Reports | February 2, 2023 | Personal Injury
What is the Florida statute of limitations for wrongful death?
According to current law, the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Florida is generally two years from a death. Exceptions to this rule may apply, so consult a Florida wrongful death lawyer to ensure you don’t miss this important filing deadline.
In Florida, they must file general personal injury cases within two years from the accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. When someone is injured, for example in a car accident, and then dies as a result of those injuries, it can be confusing to know when the statute of limitations begins to run.
Most Florida wrongful death lawyers also handle personal injury cases, but not all personal injury lawyers accept wrongful death claims. If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence, work with a seasoned wrongful death attorney who can protect your family’s legal rights.
What Is a Florida Wrongful Death?
When a loved one dies unexpectedly due to someone else’s negligent behavior, the surviving family members may receive compensation from the person or entity that negligently caused the death of their loved one. Every wrongful death claim differs and the related law is complicated. For example, in Florida, individual family members cannot bring a wrongful death claim on their own.
When you meet with an attorney who focuses on Florida wrongful death cases, they can explain the legal process, including how to calculate the applicable statute of limitations deadline. They can also answer questions about who may file a wrongful death claim, and the potential outcome you can expect.
Because of the strict statute of limitations in Florida wrongful death cases, you should not wait to schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer. If you don’t file your lawsuit before the statute expires, you may miss the opportunity to pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Case in Florida?
While some other states allow a surviving family member to bring a wrongful death case, Florida law specifies that only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death claim.
If the deceased person (legally known as the decedent) had an estate plan or will at the time of their death, those documents might name the personal representative. Absent a will or other estate plan, the probate court can appoint a representative to act on behalf of the decendent’s estate. Under certain circumstances, the representative can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the beneficiaries.
When the personal representative files a wrongful death lawsuit, they must name the family members with a legal interest in the claim. Interested family members can include:
- A surviving spouse,
- Minor children of the decedent,
- The decendent’s parents,
- Adopted children,
- Adult children if there is no surviving spouse, and
- Other blood relatives that depended on the decedent before the death occured.
Although many family members may recover receive compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death, the decendent’s personal representative is the only one who can bring the legal action.
How to Prove a Florida Wrongful Death Case
Similar to a general personal injury lawsuit, wrongful death cases must satisfy four basic elements. In Florida wrongful death cases, the presonal representative of the estate serves as the plaintiff and the at-fault party that caused the decedent’s death the defendant.
The plaintiff must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty to the decedent – Florida law creates general legal duties in certain situations. For example, doctors and other medical practioners have a duty to care for their patients and not cause harm. Similarly, motorists have a duty to drive carefully and not injure others on the roadways.
- Negligent behavior – The defendant must have acted negligently, recklessly, or carelessly and breached their legal duty toward the decedent.
- Legal causation – The defendant’s negligent actions or failure to act must have substantially contributed to or caused the wrongful death.
- Monetary damages – The decedent and surviving family members incurred financial losses related to the wrongful death.
Unless plaintiffs prove each of these elements, they cannot recover compensation in a Florida wrongful death claim. To meet all legal requirements, including filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, surviving family members should hire a seasoned wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
What Losses Can Florida Wrongful Death Cases Recover?
When a personal representative brings a wrongful death case to benefit the decendent’s estate and surviving benficiaries, they can request certain monetary damages to compensate the estate and family members.
Potential wrongful death damages may include:
- Medical expenses incurred before the decendent’s death,
- Funeral expenses and burial costs,
- Lost income,
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering,
- The value of the decedent’s support and family services, and
- The value of the decedent’s expected earnings that would have been received if they had lived.
Proving the value of these damages requires specific, detailed evidence. Your lawyer may need to hire an expert witness to establish the value of your losses and testify at a trial to convince the judge or jury to award the amount you deserve. A skilled wrongful death attorney knows how to prepare and present a solid case and protect your legal rights.
What Losses Can Florida Wrongful Death Cases Recover?
A Wrongful Death Claim Is a Civil Action
The term wrongful death can confuse people. Although your loved one died because someone else acted or failed to act in a way that caused their death, criminal courts do not try these cases. A wrongful death lawsuit or claim is a civil action that only allows payment of monetary damages to the estate and surviving family members.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your family member’s death, authorities might also charge and prosecute the responsible party with a crime. If found guilty, the court could order the responsible person to face fines, jail or prison time, or probation. A guilty criminal defendant usually does not pay compensation to the decedent’s family.
To fully understand the outcome you may receive in a wrongful death claim, sit down with an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney who can explain your unique circumstances. Most Florida wrongful death lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and how they can help you.
What Can Cause a Wrongful Death in Florida?
Any situation that can cause personal injuries may also lead to wrongful deaths.
For example, some of the most common causes of wrongful death claims include:
- Car accidents,
- Truck and commercial vehicle accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Slip and fall accidents and other premises liability incidents,
- Pedestrian accidents,
- Bicycle accidents,
- Toxic torts, and
- Other personal injury situations.
If your loved one died in any of these scenarios, work with a dedicated wrongful death lawyer so you receive the maximum possible compensation under Florida’s wrongful death laws.
Trust Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. to Comply With the Florida Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations and Protect Your Rights After the Loss of a Loved One
Losing a family member after a tragic accident is a devastating experience. Dealing with the shock and sorrow can overwhelm you. You shouldn’t have to worry about missing the Florida wrongful death statute of limitations on top of everything else. This is why it is important to understand the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Florida.
Reach out to the compassionate and highly qualified team of wrongful death attorneys at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. to ease your mind and protect your family member during this difficult time. Complete our simple online form or call (800) 800-2575 for a free consultation today.