The death of a loved one can be devastating emotionally – and financially too. This is especially true in cases of wrongful death, where one person’s negligence brought about the death of another person or if they were the victim of a wrongful act that ended up in their death.
When wrongful death happens, Florida law recognizes that families deserve to be compensated for their loss. However, there are some laws and rules that govern these types of cases that must be understood in order for a case to proceed.
Here’s what you need to know about wrongful death claims in Florida and what types of damages can be recovered from a wrongful death lawsuit in the state.
Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
Florida defines wrongful death as one that occurs through negligence, breach of contract, default, or wrongful act of someone else or an entity.
The deceased person’s estate can bring a civil lawsuit in the Florida court system that seeks losses stemming from the wrongful death.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Florida law only allows a select group of people to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal representative from the estate can bring a claim as can certain members of the deceased person’s family. These family members include:
- Spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Parents of the person who died
- Any adopted sibling or blood relation that is wholly or partly reliant on the support or services of the deceased
In Florida, children of unmarried parents can also file for damages resulting from a wrongful death case if one of their parents dies.
Only if the child was formally recognized by the father, though, will that child be able to recover damages if the father dies as a result of wrongful death. The father must have been obligated to support the child by law.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Florida, as in many other states, you only have a certain amount of time to file a lawsuit in the case of a wrongful death claim. This is called the statute of limitations.
You have two years to file a wrongful death suit. However, Florida also has something called the “discovery rule.” In certain cases, the statute of limitations can be extended when it’s not immediately apparent that an injury was caused by another person or entity.
However, this rule does not apply to wrongful death cases in Florida. Even if you don’t discover the death was caused by another person or entity until later, you still only have two years from the date of death to file.
What Damages Can Be Sued For?
In a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, a personal representative of the estate or an eligible family member can sue for damages such as:
- The value of the services and support the deceased provided the family
- Loss of guidance, companionship, or protection that was given by the deceased
- Emotional and mental pain suffered due to the loss
- Funeral or medical expenses that were paid by the family for the deceased
- Lost benefits, wages, or other types of earning that they reasonably could have been expected to earn if they lived
Wrongful death is a terrible thing, but there are legal remedies to help. They may never be able to replace the one that was lost, but that can help to ease the pain just a little bit.