Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?

Recovering for wrongful death is a way for family members to seek justice for their loved one. It’s also a way to get needed financial compensation for final expenses, lost income, lost personal services, and pain and suffering endured by the surviving family.

Recovery for wrongful death is a legal process. It is much like a traditional personal injury claim, but it’s brought by surviving family members. As a family member bringing a claim, you have the right to the assistance of a Tampa wrongful death attorney. Let our attorneys explain the process of recovering for wrongful death in Florida.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?

The personal representative of the victim’s estate can sue for wrongful death in Florida. Although the personal representative can bring the claim, they must notify all eligible parties of the claim so that they can participate if they choose. The surviving spouse, minor and adult children, parents, and other blood relatives that depend on the victim for financial or personal support can be a part of the wrongful death suit in Florida.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?

The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Florida is two years. The personal representative has two years from the date that the cause of action arises to initiate the wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations is a two-year time limit that applies to begin a wrongful death action in Florida. Florida law 95.11 [1] is the law that creates the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Florida.

How Long Does It Take for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

How long it takes for a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the complexity of the case and how long it takes for the parties to reach a resolution of the case. If the facts of the case are relatively straight forward, a wrongful death lawsuit might take approximately six months.

Wrongful Death Recovery Paperwork

However, if the issues are highly contested, a wrongful death lawsuit might take two years or more. Many factors influence how long it takes for a wrongful death lawsuit, but most cases take between six months and two years.

Can a Sister Sue for Wrongful Death?

Yes, a sister can sue for wrongful death in some states. Whether a sister can sue for wrongful death depends on state law. Florida state law 768.18(1) [2] says that survivors, including blood relatives, like sisters, can be a part of a wrongful death suit if they are dependent on the victim for services. The services can be financial or personal. A sister can often sue for wrongful death if they meet requirements that apply under the applicable state law.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?

To prove wrongful death, you prove four things:

  • The defendant acted negligently. They acted without reasonable care.
  • A death resulted from the defendant’s negligence.
  • There are surviving family members or an estate to represent the victim and the family’s loss.
  • Damages have resulted.

Proving a wrongful death case is much like proving any other kind of personal injury case. You have to show that the responsible party acted negligently. Proving negligence is a matter of proving the facts and what the defendant’s actions are. You have to show how they failed to act with the amount of care that the law requires.

Unlike traditional negligence cases, you have to show that a death results from the defendant’s negligence. You have to prove the link between the defendant’s actions and the death that occurs. In all wrongful death cases, there are obvious damages. It’s critical to fully value all of the possible damages to receive all that you might deserve for the case.

Florida Wrongful Death Law 768.19

Florida wrongful death law 768.19 [3] says that the appropriate party may bring a wrongful death claim under the same circumstances that the victim themselves could bring a negligence claim. Florida law allows for a wrongful death claim when a death is caused by an improper act, negligence, default, breach of warranty or breach of contract. In the State of Florida, there is a statute specifically for wrongful death. Florida law 768.19 is the Wrongful Death Act right of action law.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

The damages in a wrongful death case depend on the relationship with each family member. For example, damages should generally include lost support and services from a victim, including future damages. The surviving spouse may claim loss of companionship and pain and suffering. Minor children can claim lost companionship, lost guidance, and pain and suffering.

If there’s no surviving spouse, adult children can step in and claim compensation that could have been awarded to a surviving spouse. Medical expenses and funeral expenses may be recovered by the person who paid them. Loss of earnings is another part of damages in a wrongful death case.

The Wrongful Death Case Process in Florida

If the parties are able to agree, a Florida wrongful death case can resolve by agreement. There is a settlement, and the funds are apportioned to each party. The various relatives that are part of the wrongful death case can all receive a share of the settlement. In fact, it’s very common for relatives in a wrongful death case to receive different amounts.

When a wrongful death case goes to trial, the jury must return a verdict that separates out who gets what. They can’t just state the total of what’s awarded to all family members combined. Instead, Florida law 768.22 [4] requires the jury to specifically award each family member an amount separately. Florida law 768.26 [5] also says that attorney fees can be deducted from the awards. Attorney fees are deducted proportionally from each person’s recovery, except that attorney fees for efforts that are just for the benefit of one person can be deducted from that person’s share only.

Recovering for Wrongful Death in Florida

Do you have questions about recovering for wrongful death? Our understanding and compassionate attorneys are here to help. We know how difficult it can be to lose a loved one. That’s why we’re here to represent you and ensure that you win all of the compensation that you deserve on behalf of your loved one. Call us today for your free consultation.

Sources

[1] FLA. STAT. § 95.11 (2019)

[2] FLA. STAT. § 768.18(1) (2019)

[3] FLA. STAT. § 768.19 (2019)

[4] FLA. STAT. § 768.22 (2019)

[5] FLA. STAT. § 768.26 (2019)

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 36 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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