Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act is an incredibly painful and traumatic experience. In addition to the emotional toll, families often face financial burdens, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and the loss of income.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act allows certain family members to seek compensation for these losses by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, not everyone is eligible to bring a wrongful death claim in Florida. The law specifies which surviving family members have the right to sue and the types of damages they may recover.

Understanding these legal requirements is crucial for families seeking justice and financial support after the tragic loss of a loved one. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of Florida’s wrongful death statute.

Wrongful Death Claims: Eligibility in Florida

Under Florida law, wrongful death occurs when a death results from any of the following:

  • Wrongful acts
  • Negligence
  • Default
  • Breach of contract or warranty

A good way to determine whether someone has grounds to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit in Florida is to consider what the deceased’s rights would be if they were still alive. If the deceased had sustained injuries but not lost their life, and thus would have had grounds to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit (or similar action), surviving loved ones of the deceased may be justified in filing a wrongful death claim.

Beneficiaries in a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida

The personal representative of the deceased may bring a wrongful death action in Florida. Potential beneficiaries in a Florida wrongful death claim are the deceased’s:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents

Other blood relatives and adoptive siblings of the deceased might be eligible to receive compensation as well. Those not named above may only be eligible for compensation if they were “partly or wholly dependent on” the deceased.

A child born out of wedlock of a mother may also be eligible to receive compensation in a Florida wrongful death case. However, unless a father has a responsibility to provide child support, a child born out of wedlock of a father is not automatically eligible to receive compensation.

Proving Negligence in Wrongful Death Cases

You will likely need to provide substantial evidence of negligence when filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. Your goal is to prove the deceased would still be alive had it not been for a negligent party’s actions or carelessness.

The specific ways you will prove negligence can depend on the nature of the case. For example, perhaps you lost a loved one in a motor vehicle wreck a drunk driver caused.

A police report showing the driver was intoxicated would help you prove negligence in these circumstances. On the other hand, you may need to coordinate with medical professionals if a loved one died as a result of medical negligence.

That said, general tips to keep in mind when building a case include:

  • Never say anything to anyone suggesting the deceased contributed to the cause of their death.
  • Speak with witnesses who may have seen the incident resulting in a loved one’s passing.
  • Request copies of police reports, accident reports, and other such official documentation.

Be sure to keep documentation of your losses as well. For example, keep all receipts for funeral expenses.

Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Florida

If a jury awards money in a trial, the money is referred to as “damages.” You may not receive damages if you settle your case out of court. In that case, you’d receive compensation in the form of a settlement.

Damages available in a Florida wrongful death case include:

  • The value of the deceased’s lost support and services
  • Loss of companionship and protection
  • Mental pain
  • Loss of a parent’s companionship, instruction, and guidance
  • Medical and funeral expenses

Not all damages are available to all parties. For example, only children can receive compensation or damages for loss of a deceased parent’s guidance. The party who covered the cost of the deceased’s funeral and medical treatment is the party eligible to receive compensation for those expenses.

Calculating damages may require gathering documentation of relevant losses, such as medical bills. It may also involve complex calculations and formulas to assign dollar values to future losses and losses without exact financial values.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida

You probably have numerous matters to attend to in the aftermath of an unexpected death. However, you shouldn’t neglect your wrongful death case or otherwise treat it as a task you’ll “get around to.”

The statute of limitations requires you to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s passing. You’ll be ineligible for compensation if you miss the deadline.

Survivor Claims vs. Estate Claims in Florida

A survivor claim is a claim or lawsuit brought by or on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members. An estate claim is brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Damages available in an estate claim include:

  • Loss of earnings if there was a period between when the deceased was injured and when they died during which they couldn’t work (Note: Any loss of financial support surviving loved ones may be eligible for may be deducted from the earnings a personal representative could seek on behalf of the deceased’s estate)
  • Medical or funeral expenses that have become a charge against the deceased’s estate or that someone paid on the deceased’s behalf (not including medical and funeral expenses for which survivors may receive damages)
  • Loss of potential accumulations of an estate

Various factors can influence what types of damages may be available. For instance, damages for loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate are only available when one of the following applies:

  • The deceased’s survivors include a spouse and/or lineal descendants.
  • The deceased was a minor child with a surviving parent, and no survivors are eligible to receive damages for loss of support or services.

Fatal Accidents and Wrongful Death Compensation: How a Florida Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

Navigating complex legal processes is virtually always overwhelming. Doing so may be particularly difficult when you’re also coping with a loved one’s untimely passing.

We at Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers can offer much-needed assistance in these painful circumstances. A Florida wrongful death lawyer may help by:

  • Reviewing your case
  • Explaining if you have grounds to take legal action
  • Identifying liable parties
  • Gathering evidence of negligence
  • Estimating the potential value of your claim
  • Filing a claim
  • Negotiating on your behalf
  • Representing you in court if necessary

For more information about how our Florida wrongful death firm can assist you and your loved ones, contact us online or call us at (619) 233-5020 for a free case review.

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