Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?

You hear it every day on the news in Orlando, a person died because of an accident. There is nothing more devastating than the loss of a loved one.  But, when that loss is the result of the careless or negligent actions of another, the grief felt by family members is often amplified and accompanied by anger and frustration. The first instinct is to want to hold that person or organization responsible. This retribution can be brought in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful death cases are civil legal actions brought when someone else’s negligence or careless actions leads to the death of your loved one.  This can happen in a number of situations, for example, in car accidents, boating accidents, fires, defective or dangerous products, medical malpractice, and negligent security situations.

After such a loss, you are likely facing significant emotional and financial challenges. A wrongful death lawsuit serves as a means for you to obtain financial compensation for unexpected expenses like funeral costs and loss of financial support as well as holding the defendant liable under the law.

Florida Statutes section 768.21 details who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.  In Florida, only a person appointed as the Personal Representative of the Estate can actually file the lawsuit.  He or she brings the case on behalf of the Estate and for all survivors.

The Personal Representative named in the decedent’s  will or next of kin, if there is no will, is the individual filing the lawsuit. Essentially, he or she is requesting monetary damages not necessarily for himself or herself but on behalf of the estate and survivors.

The persons in the estate who would receive any money won through the wrongful death claim would either be named in the will itself or would qualify based on Florida law. This normally includes the surviving spouse, any blood relative of the decedent, parent, or adoptive relative who was dependent on the decedent for financial support while he or she was alive.

The following family members are survivors under the wrongful death statute:

  • The surviving spouse.
  • Minor children of the decedent
  • If there is no surviving spouse, all children of the decedent
  • If the decedent is a minor child, the parents of the child.
  • If there are no other survivors, the parents of an adult child.

Where the wrongful death stems from medical malpractice, the surviving spouse and minor children (meaning children under 25 years of age) are the only survivors under the law who can recover for the loss of the decedent, including pain and suffering damages.  If there is no surviving spouse or no minor children, the adult children who bring the claim can only recover limited damages (funeral bills and medical bills).

In terms of financial compensation received through a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate can fight for loss of earnings, as well as compensation for medical and funeral expenses. Survivors of the deceased can request loss of support and services, loss of companionship, compensation for medical and funeral expenses paid, and pain and suffering damages.

In certain cases, punitive damages can be awarded. These types of damages are intended to punish the at-fault party in cases of extreme negligence, for example in drunk driving accidents and assault cases.

Your Time to File a Wrongful Death Claim is Limited.  

Every state imposes a statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, meaning you only have a certain amount of time to file your claim. In Florida, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim. However, the sooner you reach out to an attorney the better. The sooner the investigation can begin, and evidence can be gathered to support your claim, the better your chances are of securing a favorable outcome.

The Benenati Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its injury clients and accident victims. Our Orlando wrongful death lawyers are here to provide you with guidance and support during this difficult time. We are committed to obtaining justice for you and your family. Our oath to you is handling your case from start to finish effectively, competently, and aggressively. We offer our legal services in English and Spanish, and you pay us nothing unless we win your case. Learn how our Florida wrongful death attorneys can help you and your family by calling 407-777-7777 for a free legal consultation. You can also text or call me directly 24/7 at 407-780-5667.