If your loved one has been killed in an accident or due to someone else’s negligence, you may consider suing for wrongful death. While a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring back your loved one, it may allow you to obtain the compensation you need to carry on in their absence. In Florida, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is limited to a personal representative bringing the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate, the deceased’s immediate survivors, and certain relatives who were financially dependent upon the deceased.
If you are contemplating filing a wrongful death lawsuit, let the experienced personal injury team at James Horne Law PA help. We can determine whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim and help you get started on your healing journey.
Helping the Right Parties in Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Florida has a specific set of rules governing wrongful death claims. Florida’s wrongful death statute specifically identifies who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Following the untimely death of a loved one due to someone’s negligence, a wrongful death claim is usually filed by a representative of the deceased’s estate, on behalf of the deceased’s survivors, who are defined by law. Under this definition, a spouse may bring a wrongful death action on behalf of their deceased spouse. If a child is killed, parents of minor children may also bring a wrongful death action.
Minors and dependent relatives can collect compensation for the death of their parents or guardians, as long as that relationship has been recognized by the deceased. For instance, a minor step-child who was financially dependent upon the deceased may be able to sue for wrongful death as long as they were a step-child recognized by the deceased and they were dependent upon them for support.
These rules can be confusing so you should speak to a personal injury and wrongful death attorney to determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death suit. An experienced lawyer can help you ensure that your case is as strong as possible and that you are in the best position to receive the compensation you deserve.
A Personal Representative of the Deceased’s Estate
Florida law requires that a personal representative be appointed to act on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative’s job is to represent the interests of the deceased’s estate, whether or not there are any survivors. If a person was wrongfully killed, a personal representative files the lawsuit on behalf of the estate and the survivors. The personal representative is typically named in the deceased person’s will or appointed by the court if there is no will.
The Deceased’s Immediate Survivors
Florida law identifies specific family members and dependents considered “survivors” eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Survivors may include:
- The deceased person’s spouse;
- The deceased person’s children, including biological, adopted, and, in some cases, stepchildren;
- The deceased person’s parents, if the deceased was a minor child; and
- Blood relatives and adoptive siblings who were dependent on the deceased for support or services.
If you fit into any of these categories and want to sue for wrongful death, speak to a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to act quickly since there are time limitations on how long you can wait to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Dependent Blood Relatives
Certain blood relatives who were partly or entirely dependent on the deceased person for support or services may also be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These individuals may include grandparents and grandchildren. In the case of dependent blood relatives filing a lawsuit, it is important to note that the personal representative brings the lawsuit on behalf of all survivors. The damages awarded are typically distributed among them based on their losses and dependence on the deceased.
Statute of Limitations on Suing for Wrongful Death
Florida law imposes a statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. In most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the person’s death. However, there are exceptions and nuances to this rule, and you may be able to extend the time you have to file a lawsuit. Consult an experienced Florida attorney specializing in wrongful death cases to understand your rights and options if you believe you have a valid claim.
Speak With an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit, a Florida personal injury and wrongful death attorney can help you understand how Florida’s wrongful death statute may shape your case. James “Jay” Horne has helped hundreds of Florida residents receive the compensation they deserve after someone else’s negligence killed a loved one. Contact James Horne Law PA today by phone or the form on our website to request a consultation.