A Florida wrongful death lawsuit is filed when the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity caused someone’s death. If you have lost a loved one in such circumstances, you may seek justice and compensation legally. However, it is essential to know that pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can be complex and time-consuming.

Various factors contribute to the duration of these cases, including gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and navigating court proceedings. Having a general idea of the timeline for a typical wrongful death lawsuit in Florida can help you have realistic expectations about the duration of your claim.

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When can a wrongful death lawsuit be filed? 

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when another party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions cause an individual’s death. In Florida, the specific circumstances under which a wrongful death claim can be pursued are outlined in the state’s statutes. According to Florida law, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed if a wrongful act, negligence, default, breach of contract, or warranty caused the decedent’s death.

What is the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits?

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida generally allows eligible individuals to file their claims within two years from the date of the deceased person’s passing. However, there are exceptions and variations depending on the specific circumstances of the case, as follows:

  • Cases against the government: The statute of limitations is shorter when filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a government entity or employee, such as in cases involving negligence by a government agency or healthcare provider. In Florida, you typically have three years from the date of death to file a claim against the government.
  • Murder: If the death resulted from intentional and criminal actions, such as murder or manslaughter, there isn’t technically a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This means that you can initiate legal proceedings at any time.
  • Medical malpractice: In cases where medical malpractice leads to wrongful death, Florida law allows up to two years from the date the cause of action was discovered (or should have been discovered) to file a lawsuit. However, under certain circumstances, the statute of limitations could be four years from the date of the alleged malpractice, regardless of when it was discovered.

It is important to consult with a Tampa wrongful death attorney to understand the statutes of limitations that may apply to your situation. Failing to meet these deadlines can result in losing your right to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

What factors affect a wrongful death lawsuit timeline?

It is essential to remember that every wrongful death case is unique. Timelines can vary significantly depending on various factors and other circumstances specific to each situation, including:

  • Complexity of the case: The case’s complexity plays a significant role in determining how long it will take to resolve. Cases involving multiple parties, extensive evidence gathering, or complex legal issues may require more time for investigation and preparation.
  • Witness availability: Witness testimonies are often crucial in wrongful death cases. The availability and cooperation of witnesses can impact the timeline as their statements need to be collected for use during negotiations or trials.
  • Responsiveness of parties involved: If all parties involved promptly respond to communications and requests from attorneys, it can expedite the litigation process. Delays caused by unresponsive defendants or insurance companies may prolong resolution.
  • Settlement negotiations: Parties involved often engage in settlement negotiations at different stages throughout the lawsuit process. Arriving at an agreeable settlement can expedite resolution compared to going through court proceedings.
  • Court workload: The court’s schedule and caseload also contribute to how long a wrongful death lawsuit takes to reach its conclusion. Courts have varying capacities, and high caseloads may result in longer waiting times.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida?

In Florida, it’s essential to note that only certain individuals are eligible to be considered as personal representatives, such as immediate family members or the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative is appointed by the court and can be named in the decedent’s will or appointed as per state laws if there is no will. 

The Florida Wrongful Death Act also outlines who may recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. These eligible parties include:

  • Surviving spouse: The surviving spouse can seek damages for economic and non-economic losses resulting from the wrongful death
  • Children: Minor children (including adopted children) of the decedent have a right to recover damages in their own name. If a child is an adult but was dependent on the decedent for support, they may also be entitled to compensation.
  • Parents: If there isn’t a surviving spouse or minor children present, parents of unmarried deceased adults may potentially pursue legal action and receive compensation under certain circumstances
  • Other dependents: In unique cases where any other blood relatives were partly or wholly dependent on financial support from the decedent, they might have grounds for seeking damages

How long does a wrongful death lawsuit generally take?

The duration of a Florida wrongful death lawsuit can vary significantly depending on the specific factors and the case’s complexity. While it is difficult to provide an exact timeline, wrongful death lawsuits can take anywhere from several months to multiple years to resolve. 

How can a Tampa wrongful death attorney help me?

A Tampa wrongful death attorney provides invaluable assistance in navigating the legal complexities while helping you seek justice and fair compensation:

  • Legal advice and guidance: A knowledgeable attorney will assess your case, explain applicable laws, and advise you on your legal rights and options. They will guide you through each step, ensuring you understand what to expect.
  • Investigation: An experienced attorney will conduct an investigation, potentially collaborating with experts to build a strong case on your behalf
  • Document preparation: Your attorney will handle all necessary paperwork to file a wrongful death claim accurately and within statutory deadlines. This includes drafting legal documents, communicating with insurance companies or opposing parties, and preparing court filings if litigation becomes necessary.
  • Negotiations and settlements: Your attorney will represent your best interests during discussions with insurers or opposing parties to secure fair compensation for the damages suffered by surviving family members
  • Litigation representation: If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer can prepare litigation strategies and represent you vigorously in court
  • Emotional support: Losing a loved one is emotionally challenging, especially when dealing with legal matters concurrently. A compassionate wrongful death attorney understands this and provides emotional support.

Get help from wrongful death attorneys in Tampa today

A Tampa wrongful death attorney is discussing a case with their client. In front of them is paperwork, a gavel, and a Lady Justice statue in the background.

If you have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one due to wrongful death in Tampa, don’t navigate the legal complexities alone. Seek guidance from the caring, compassionate, supportive, and experienced wrongful death attorneys at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys. Our team is dedicated to helping you during this challenging time. We will fight for justice and secure fair compensation on your behalf. 

Contact our Tampa wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation.


FLA. STAT. § 768.19.

FLA. STAT. § 768.21.

FLA. STAT. § 95.11.

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