No single scenario presents more horror than suddenly losing a loved one. Whether it be a spouse, sibling, parent, or child, the loss of a family member can be devastating emotionally and financially.
When the death of a loved one is caused by the carelessness of someone else, Florida law provides you with the right to file suit and obtain justice and compensation for things like funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of companionship, and more. While money will not bring your loved one back, being compensated financially may bring your family peace of mind and may alleviate any financial burden caused by your loved one’s departure. Here is a brief overview on wrongful death claims in Florida, including what you should do if you are contemplating filing a claim.
What You Should Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
The state of Florida allows the family and loved ones of a deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages if the decedent’s death was caused by the negligent act of another. This lawsuit generally must be filed within 2 years of the decedent’s death. Typically, the person who is legally responsible for administering a deceased person’s estate – known as the personal representative – is the only person who is eligible to officially file this type of lawsuit. The personal representative is usually named in the deceased person’s will. If there is no will, or the will does not name someone as the personal representative, then the court will appoint one.
The only people who will be entitled to recover damages from a wrongful death lawsuit are the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents, or other blood relative or adoptive sibling who were dependent on the decedent for support or services. What this means is that only a select group of people are eligible to receive compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit. Friends or mere acquaintances are not able to receive an award from the court arising out of a wrongful death claim.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
A wrongful death suit can arise from a variety of scenarios. One of the more common cases is the death of a person due to an auto accident. Thousands of Americans each year lose their lives in car crashes. Collisions that cause the death of someone due to the negligence of another driver may turn into a wrongful death claim. Fatal accidents from distracted driving, drug or alcohol impairment, or speeding could easily serve the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Defective products are another classic example of a wrongful death case. It is important to remember that poorly labeled products – including those with inadequate safety warnings – are considered defective products. If a product that is defective in design, manufacture, or labeling causes the death of a person, then their estate may file a wrongful death claim. In a recent example, the parents of children who were killed by dressers that tipped over had successfully sued the manufacturer and were awarded damages under a wrongful death claim.
Medical malpractice that results in the death of the patient is another common example of a wrongful death claim. These claims can be brought against individual physicians along with their medical providers (e.g., hospitals) based upon allegations of medical care falling below the accepted medical standard. The families of women that die during childbirth due to a physician’s negligence or misdiagnosis often file wrongful death suits against the doctor and hospital. These claims are often extraordinarily complex and involve expert witness testimony to establish the precise cause of death.
Do You Need to File a Wrongful Death Claim? Let Us Help
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an immensely difficult experience regardless of the circumstances. However, it hurts even more when that loved one’s death is caused by someone’s careless actions. The stress of handling your loved one’s affairs coupled with the despair from the loss can be overwhelming. If you believe that the loss of your loved one may have been the result of the carelessness or negligence of another, remember that the law limits the time in which you can file a lawsuit. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your right to recovery.
Our personal injury attorneys at The Watson Firm, PLLC have a vast amount of experience handling wrongful death cases and are here to help you through the entire process.