Losing a loved one to a preventable accident or negligent misdeed is something no family should ever have to suffer. And while no lawsuit can ever replace the loss of someone dear, the surviving family does have the legal right to pursue financial compensation from the person who was responsible for the accident, medical malpractice, premises liability issue, or defective product or drug that caused the death.
A wrongful death lawsuit may be the only way that survivors can receive justice and recover from the costs related to the accident, especially if the lost loved one was the primary breadwinner for the family. Here’s what you need to know after a wrongful death of someone you love.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
Under Florida law, certain survivors are entitled to take legal action against a person, business, or another entity after a wrongful or negligent act, default, or a breach of contract has cost the life of a family member. The eligible survivors for a wrongful death lawsuit typically include:
- The spouse of the deceased
- Minor or adult children
- Surviving parents
- Other blood relatives or adoptive siblings who relied on the deceased for support
Children whose parents are unmarried are eligible as survivors if their mother passes away. However, they are not eligible as survivors if the father passes away, unless the father had already legally recognized the children as his and had an obligation of support.
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, the individuals do not usually bring suit. Florida law requires that the decedent’s estate file the lawsuit on behalf of survivors through the estate’s personal representative. This person may be named as a part of the estate plan of the deceased (such as in a last will) or be appointed by the court if there is no estate plan.
Florida law has a strict time limit for wrongful death lawsuits, called a statute of limitations. The law says that the suit must be filed within two years of the date of death, and there are very few exceptions to this. After the two-year period has expired, chances for successful recovery are very slim, so starting the legal process early is important.
Financial Recovery After a Wrongful Death
The type of financial recovery that may be sought depends on the relationship to the deceased. In general, surviving family members may be able to receive compensation for:
- Hospital bills and other medical costs
- The cost of the funeral and other related expenses
- A lifetime of wages that the deceased would have provided for the family
- Loss of benefits or inheritances
- The loss of companionship, love, care, guidance, and support of the deceased
In certain situations that involve severe or malicious wrongful acts, punitive damages may also be awarded to survivors. Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and send a message to society by imposing a severe financial penalty to discourage others from acting in a similar fashion.
Get Started With a Wrongful Death Case
If you have lost a loved one due to negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing, the Law Office of Andrew G. Rosenberg, P.A. understands the emotional trauma you’re facing.. To pursue a wrongful death case through our firm, use our online contact form to send an email, and arrange a free consultation today.