Do You need help with Wrongful Death lawsuits in Florida?
If you have lost a family member due to someone else’s negligence or bad action, nothing can ever make up for that loss. Your entire life has changed and will never be the same. The person responsible should be held accountable.
It may be hard to even function after a loss like this, but Florida only gives you so long to file a lawsuit against the person at fault. After that time lapses, you lose all rights.
You do not have to be in this alone. Once you talk with a Florida wrongful death attorney, they can advise you and take the necessary steps to preserve your rights.
Here’s what you should know.
What Is Wrongful Death?
When someone’s negligence or bad intent results in a death, that is a wrongful death.
According to Fla. Stat. § 768.19 (2021), a wrongful death occurs “…when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person…”
The person responsible can be sued for monetary compensation that may be awarded to the family and the decedent’s estate.
Wrongful death could occur for any number of reasons. Someone could run a light and kill a pedestrian. Or a faulty product could cause death, such as from a defective baby crib, faulty industrial machinery or substandard auto brakes.
A wrongful death suit may also be filed if the decedent was a victim or murder or manslaughter. It does not matter whether or not the defendant was found guilty or innocent in criminal court. This is because the standard of proof is not the same in criminal and civil court. I
To win a wrongful death claim in civil court, you must prove the defendant was at fault by a preponderance of the evidence, a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in a criminal case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
In Florida, unlike some other states such as California, a family member cannot themselves bring a wrongful death suit no matter how close the relationship.
Under Fla. Stat. § 768. 20 (2021), “The action shall be brought by the decedent’s personal representative, who shall recover for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors and estate all damages…” In other words, it’s up to the estate’s executor to file the lawsuit.
How Long Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Action in Florida?
You do not have long to file a wrongful death action in Florida. Under Fla. Stat. §95.11 (2021), the suit must be filed within two years from the date of death.
There is an exception. If the death was due to murder or manslaughter, a wrongful death claim my be brought at any time. This is true even if the person responsible has not been convicted… or even charged or arrested.
Talk to a Florida wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the death to be certain all rights are preserved. Legal action is far from the minds of most people following a tragic loss, but you need to act. Remember, the attorney needs some time to prepare the case before filing it.
Should you go past the statute of limitations without filing, you have lost all rights to make a claim forever.
Who Can the Estate Sue?
Your Florida wrongful death attorney will need to analyze the complexities of the case to determine who should be named in a lawsuit. In many cases, more than one person or entity should be named as a defendant.
For example, if the death was the result of a workplace accident, possibilities could include a negligent employee, the employer and the manufacturer of faulty industrial equipment.
What Kind of Compensation Can the Court Award?
It’s hard to think of monetary compensation when you have suffered a loss. But a person’s death can result in substantial monetary hardship to their family.
In a Florida wrongful death action, under Fla. Stat. § 768.21 (2021), the court will award some types of damages to the deceased’s family and others to their estate.
Damages That May Be Awarded to the Family
Damages that may be awarded to family members include the following.
- Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services. The survivor’s relationship to the deceased is considered among other factors. This can be a complicated computation because it involves computing probable net income, life expectancies and more.
- The surviving spouse may\recover for
- loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection
- Mental pain and suffering
- Minor children and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse may recover for
- Lost parental companionship, instruction and guidance
- Mental pain and suffering
- A family member who paid for medical or funeral expenses may recover them.
Damages That May Be Awarded to the Estate
Damages that may be awarded to the decedent’s estate include
- Loss of earnings less lost support of surviving family members
- Loss of prospective earnings.
- Medical or funeral expenses not paid for by a family member
What Are My Next Steps
To preserve your rights, if you are a family member or the executor of the estate of the decedent, you should contact a good Florida wrongful death attorney as soon as you can. It’s important to file a claim in time to meet the Florida deadline.
At Ziegler Diamond Law, we offer you a free consultation so you can learn the strength of your case and understand your options. We understand you have suffered a great loss that can never be restored. But we can help to get the compensation the family needs to maintain its way of living. We can help you hold those responsible accountable.
To set up your free consultation, fill out and submit this form. Or just call us directly at (727) 538-4188 in Clearwater, (813) 225-3111 in Tampa or (352) 600-1326 in Mt. Dora.
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