Wrongful Death Claims: Who Can File Such Claims in Florida?
Usually, a victim that sustains an injury after being in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence is the one entitled to compensation. However, in case of wrongful death, the family member’s identity on whose behalf a claim may be filed may not be that obvious. Also, the identity of the party officially allowed to file a lawsuit on behalf of a qualifying family member in case of wrongful death is not that obvious.
Some states in the United States permit dependent family members of deceased individuals to file wrongful death lawsuits. However, Florida does not allow that. Florida law expects the personal representative of a decedent’s estate to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate and/or a family member.
Defining Wrongful Death and Wrongful Death Claims
According to Florida statute 768.19, wrongful death is a type of death caused by another person’s negligence.
Therefore, a wrongful death claim is generally a lawsuit brought forward after a person dies due to someone else’s negligence. Regardless of the incident that leads to an individual’s wrongful death, for a party to successfully file a wrongful death claim and receive fair compensation, an act of negligence on the defendant’s part must have played a role in causing the death of the decedent. Generally, the defendant must have owed the deceased person a duty of care but breached their duty and caused death.
Wrongful deaths can happen after;
- a case of medical malpractice
- a motor vehicle accident
- a case of an animal attack
- a construction incident
- the use of a defective product
Who Is Sanctioned to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
According to Florida Statute 768.20, the party allowed to bring forward a wrongful death claim in Florida is a decedent’s estate’s personal representative. In some cases, the personal representative of the estate is named in a will. In other cases, where a will is absent, a Florida court appoints the personal representative.
Usually, the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate files a wrongful death claim on behalf of the dead individual’s estate and/or surviving family members. When filing a wrongful death claim, the representative has to list all family members who have an interest in the case.
Several family members can recover damages in wrongful death claims. Some of these family members include a decedent’s;
- adoptive brother and/or sister and other blood relatives who depended on the decedent either partly or wholly
According to the law, when it comes to matters of wrongful death claims, minor children are any children under 25 years.
Suppose a child was born to unmarried parents and their father wrongfully died before formally recognizing the child as their own and contributing or having been obligated to contribute to the child’s support. In such a case, the child cannot recover damages. However, if a child born to unmarried parents wrongfully loses their father after their father formally recognized them and contributed or was obligated to contribute to their support, they can recover damages. On the other hand, if a child born to unwed parents wrongfully loses their mother, they can easily recover damages in a wrongful death claim.
Claims That a Personal Representative of an Estate Can Make
Florida law clearly outlines the different types of damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death claim. Both surviving family members and a decedent’s estate can receive damages in such claims.
An estate can receive, among many others, compensation for;
- lost earnings.
- funeral and medical expenses paid directly by the decedent’s estate.
Family members are entitled to, among many others, the following damages.
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Medical and funeral expenses, paid directly by a family member.
Statute of Limitations for Filing Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
Understanding and following the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is critical because it helps people avoid losing their right to file such claims.
According to Florida Law, you need to commence an action for wrongful death within two years. In most cases, that time limit is calculated from the date of a person’s death.
However, there are times when courts allow people to file wrongful death claims after two years. An experienced Florida personal injury attorney can advise you on whether or not you can file a wrongful death claim after two years, depending on the specifics of your case.
Contact a Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney Today
Need help filing a wrongful death claim and obtaining fair compensation? Contact a Fort Myers personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., today on 239-649-8050 to schedule a consultation.