A wrongful death lawsuit is filed when a death is caused by a person or company’s negligent or reckless conduct. In some cases, wrongful death lawsuits are brought against someone for intentional conduct. Since the person who was harmed is no longer living, the right to file a lawsuit passes to their surviving relatives.
Some common examples of wrongful death cases include:
- Medical malpractice
- Automobile accidents
- Work place injuries
- Product liability claims
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative for the estate of the deceased person is asking the court for damages. Damages are the amount in which the surviving family members were harmed as a result of the wrongful death of the decedent. Damages can include medical bills, funeral expenses and loss of future financial support from the deceased. Damages also can be sought for emotional harm such as loss of companionship.
In Florida, the issue of who may file a wrongful death claim is set forth in the Florida Wrongful Death Act. Although the award of a wrongful death lawsuit is given to the deceased’s spouse, children or parents, these relatives are not automatically entitled to file a wrongful death claim.
A personal representative of the deceased must begin the wrongful death proceedings. The personal representative of the deceased is named in a will. If a will is not available, the issue of who can file a wrongful death suit becomes more complicated.
The courts usually offer first right to be appointed personal representative of the estate of the deceased to the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse is unable to perform the duties of a personal representative, or the deceased was not married, the personal representative is decided by majority vote among the deceased’s heirs. If this option is not possible, a court will appoint a personal representative.
Once a personal representative has been named, that person may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the other beneficiaries.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two (2) years from the date of death. In other words, if a loved one passes away because of another’s recklessness or negligence on January 1, 2015, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit by January 1, 2017.
The statute of limitations deadline for wrongful death claims is very strict. Failing to file a claim within the wrongful death statute of limitations may prohibit the deceased’s family from ever recovering compensation for their loved one’s death.