The Florida Wrongful Death Act is a legal statute defining a wrongful death, who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and the type of compensation that can be awarded by the court.
Put simply, wrongful death is a death caused by negligence or misconduct. Legal cases involving wrongful death are referred to as “torts” and fall under the category of civil law rather than criminal law.
If you feel a loved one has died due to negligence, consulting a personal injury attorney is an essential first step. A wrongful death attorney can determine whether or not you have a case, and if you do, help guide you through the legal process and ensure you receive the most compensation possible.
There are many potential causes for wrongful death, including automobile accidents, workplace accidents, accidents or injury resulting from defective products, and medical negligence. Because Florida wrongful death cases often involve medical negligence, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you understand your rights under the Florida Wrongful Death Act.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?
Since those who suffer a wrongful death are unable to sue, one of the most commonly asked questions is, “Who can sue for wrongful death?” Florida law allows a personal representative to file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. Those who can sue for wrongful death include:
- The surviving spouse
- Minor children under the age of 25
- Parents of minor children
- Parents of adult children if there is no surviving spouse and there are no surviving children
- All children — including adult children — if there is no surviving spouse
- Siblings or other blood relatives under certain circumstances
It’s important to note that siblings (both by blood or adoptive), and other blood relatives can sue for wrongful death. However, they can only do so if they were dependent upon the deceased for “support and services.” Under the law, “support” usually refers to monetary contributions, whereas “services” often refers to household tasks that become a necessary expense for the survivor (although this can vary, depending on individual circumstances).
It’s also important to note that in cases of medical negligence, only the deceased’s spouse and children can sue for pain and suffering.
What Types of Compensation Can Survivors Receive?
Certain types of damages and losses figure into a survivor’s compensation. Who receives which type of compensation depends on the relationship to the deceased. For instance:
- Lost support and services may be recovered by each survivor, as defined by the Act. However, the amount will vary. It depends on factors including the survivor’s relationship to the deceased and the replacement value of the deceased’s services to the survivor.
- The surviving spouse, children, and parents of children under the age of 25 are entitled to compensation for mental pain and suffering. Parents of an adult child may also recover these damages if there are no other survivors.
- The surviving spouse may receive compensation for loss of companionship and protection, while children can recover damages for loss of companionship, guidance, and instruction.
- Medical or funeral expenses are recoverable by the survivor who paid them.
- In the case of a personal representative acting on behalf of the estate, loss of earnings is recoverable. However, if a survivor has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate cannot file a separate wrongful death suit. Each case is unique, so it’s best to consult with a personal injury lawyer.
How are wrongful death settlements paid out in Florida?
The negligent party is responsible for paying the settlement. In many cases, if the negligent party has liability insurance, the insurance company will pay. The negligent party is responsible for paying the balance if the amount exceeds the total allowed by the insurance policy.What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Florida?
What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Florida?
In most cases, a survivor has two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death suit. There are a few exceptions, but the circumstances are unusual. When in doubt, an attorney can help clarify these exceptions.
If you believe a loved one has suffered a wrongful death, Menendez Trial Attorneys can help. With our experience serving clients in Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and all major metro areas in Florida, we understand how difficult it can be to lose a loved one, especially if their death could have been prevented. While nothing can adequately compensate for your loss, we can help you determine if you are entitled to compensation due to wrongful death. Call us now for a free consultation at (305) 376-7689.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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