If you have recently lost a loved one and believe their death resulted from someone else's negligence, you may wonder if you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
To better understand the complexities of a wrongful death lawsuit, the Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen team put together this blog to provide an overview of who is eligible to file, including who can receive benefits. Read more to find out if you’re eligible to file a claim.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act
The Wrongful Death Act, Florida Statutes Sections 768.16 to 768.26, provides a right of action on behalf of the survivors and the estate by the personal representative of a decedent whose death is caused by negligence. The personal representative of the decedent’s estate brings forth the claims of the estate as well as any statutory survivors who qualify under the act.
Who Qualifies As A Statutory “Survivor” Under the Wrongful Death Act?
Many people who call our offices are surprised to find out that they do not qualify as a “survivor” under the terms of the Wrongful Death Act. Survivors and their claims are defined in the the act and may include the decedent’s:
- Minor children (defined as under the age of 25 years),
- Parents, and
- Blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters (when dependent on the decedent for support or services).
Adult children (children over the age of 25 years old) are not considered survivors unless the decedent did not leave behind a surviving spouse. However, if the decedent’s death was caused by medical malpractice, the adult children are never considered survivors irrespective of whether or not there is a surviving spouse.
If I Am A Survivor or a Personal Representative, What Can I Recover?
If you do qualify as a survivor, then you may be able to recover money damages for the death of your loved one depending on your relationship with the decedent. The law generally allows for survivors to be compensated for lost support, services, and their mental pain and suffering.
Your relationship with the decedent, will determine what types of damages you are eligible for. For example:
- Each survivor may recover the full value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to the date of the decedent’s death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death reduced to present value.
- The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury;
- Minor children of the decedent may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance for mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury;
- Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury; and/or
- Medical and funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.
- The decedent’s personal representative may recover for the decedent’s estate:
- The loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death and the loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate (if the decedent’s survivors include a surviving spouse or lineal descendant, or if the decedent is not a minor child, there are no lost support and services recoverable, and there is a surviving parent); and
- Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death that have become a charge against his or her estate that were paid by or on behalf of decedent.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Florida is two years from the date of the decedent’s death. If the claim is not filed before the deadline, the decedent's personal representative will most likely not have the chance to file. While we understand how heavy the grieving process of losing a loved one can be, we recommend acting as quickly as possible with a wrongful death claim to ensure you get the maximum compensation you and your family deserve.
Wrongful Death Attorneys
If a loved one lost their life due to someone else’s negligence, we want you to know that you are not alone and are here to listen to you. Our firm has experience filing complex wrongful death claims for a variety of cases. To get in touch with one of our attorneys, call our office at (866) 629-1061 or fill out a consultation request form.