A wrongful death claim can be best defined as a civil lawsuit that may be brought to court when the negligence or wrongful act of one party causes the death of another person.
Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
As per Florida Statutes section 768.19, when a person’s death “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” of another person or some other entity, the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit in Florida’s courts, seeking a legal remedy for that death and the losses stemming from it.
Who is entitled to bring a Florida Wrongful Death Claim?
According to Florida law, it is required of the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file the wrongful death claim. The personal representative may be named in the deceased person’s will or estate plan. In case there is no will or estate plan, the personal representative needs to be appointed by the court. However, the wrongful death claim is filed on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and any surviving family members. When it comes to the wrongful death claim, the personal representative must list every survivor who has an interest in the case.
Family members who are entitled to recover damages in a Florida wrongful death case include:
- the deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents, and
- any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is partly or entirely dependent on the decedent for support or services.
In case a child is born to unmarried parents, the child can recover damages in a wrongful death case if his or her mother dies. In case the child’s father dies, the child can only recover damages if the father had formally recognized the child as his own and was obligated to contribute to the support of the child.
Is there any time limit for filing a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Every state has passed laws that set time limits on your right to go to court and file a lawsuit. This type of law is called a statute of limitations. Most states have passed a separate statute that covers wrongful death lawsuits.
A wrongful death lawsuit in Florida needs to be filed within two years of the date of death in most cases. This is as per the Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d). The deadline needs to be “tolled,” or postponed, under a few very specific circumstances. A genuine wrongful death attorney can handle the Florida wrongful death cases. They can help you determine exactly when the statute of limitations expires in a certain case. You should follow the deadline set by the statute of limitations, else you could lose your right to bring your wrongful death lawsuit to court.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Since a wrongful death case is a civil claim, it is brought to court by the deceased person’s estate, not by the government. Liability in a wrongful death claim is expressed only in terms of money damages. Though a criminal case related to the death might also be filed in court, it addresses different concerns. It usually does not give way to damages being paid to the estate or the surviving family members.
As per Florida Statutes section 768.21, the state’s rules for awarding damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages that surviving family members might receive in these kinds of cases include:
- the value of support and services the deceased person had provided to the surviving family member
- loss of companionship, guidance, and protection provided by the deceased person
- mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a child, and
- medical or funeral expenses any surviving family member has paid for the deceased person.
The deceased person’s estate might also recover certain types of damages. These damages are inclusive of:
- lost wages, benefits, and other earnings, including the value of lost earnings that the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to make if he or she had lived.
- missed “prospective net accumulations” of the estate, or the value of earnings the estate could reasonably have been expected to collect if the deceased person had lived, and
- medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate.
- Loss of any inheritance due to the untimely death
- the deceased person’s pre-death pain and suffering
- the medical expenses that the deceased victim incurred as a result of injury prior to death
- Loss of love and companionship
Statutes of Limitations
If a suit is not filed within the time frame, you will not be able to receive compensation. However, there are certain exceptions. Sometimes a critical discovery about a wrongful death case is made after the statute of limitation has expired. In such cases, those seeking to file a claim for wrongful death may have more time to do so.
As per the Florida Statute § 95.11, a person has to file a claim within 2 years of a wrongful death case. Different types of cases have different statutes of limitations. It is important to understand the statute of limitations since it is key to successfully filing and ultimately winning a claim.
Wrongful Death as a result of Product Liability or Mislabeling
When a piece of machinery malfunctions and then someone gets injured and later dies as a result, it forms a wrongful death case as a result of product liability. These wrongful death cases are common. Plenty of such claims are brought each year against manufacturers due to the improper labeling of products and failure to provide express warnings of potential hazards or known dangers. Thus, when manufacturers produce and sell unsafe products to the general public they need to be held accountable.
What is Auto Accident Fatality?
In a car accident where one party sustains a fatality as a result of the negligence exhibited by an individual, it is called an auto accident fatality case. Such a form of wrongful death might occur due to reckless driving, distracted driving, speeding, driving etc. Call a specialized wrongful death attorney today!