When a person dies because of the actions of another individual (like another motorist) or an entity (such as a car manufacturer), the survivors may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida.
A wrongful death lawsuit asks the court to award damages in the form of compensation for the survivors’ loss, such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses.
A wrongful death claim can arise from all kinds of fatal accidents. These can include:
- An automobile or motorcycle accident;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Work accidents;
- Medical malpractice on the part of a physician or health care facility;
- Nursing home patient abuse and/or neglect; and
- Product liability where a product isn’t designed correctly or malfunctions and causes death.
Individuals, businesses, and governments can be legally responsible for acting negligently (or failing to act in a reasonable and prudent manner) and for acting intentionally.
Who May Sue for Wrongful Death in Florida?
The personal representative (executor) of the deceased person’s estate must file the wrongful death claim. And while this action is filed by that person, it’s filed on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and any surviving family members.
Florida Statute § 768.19 provides that when the death of an individual is caused by a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty, the estate of the deceased person may bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Florida Statute § 768.21(1) says that “[e]ach survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.”
Florida’s Wrongful Death Act says that those related to the decedent such as a spouse, children, parents, dependent blood relatives, or a child born outside of wedlock of the mother or father (if it’s established that the father has assumed responsibility for support of the child) can bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Damages are Recoverable?
A surviving spouse may recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover from mental pain and suffering.
In addition to medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death, the decedent’s estate may recover the loss of earnings.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Action in Florida?
There’s a time limit or deadline, known as the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims.
In Florida, you typically have only two years from the time of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Do I Know if I Should Accept a Settlement?
Most people think about lawsuits and picture a trial and endless court proceedings. However, suing the responsible party in your wrongful death claim and going to trial isn’t the only way for you to receive compensation for your losses.
You and your family can also seek financial compensation when an experienced personal injury attorney at Trentalange & Kelley P.A. helps you negotiate a settlement.
Settlement negotiations are done through the lawyers for the parties prior to a trial date. Trials can be expensive, stressful, and time-consuming for everyone involved, so a fair settlement may be in the best interests of all of the parties. In addition, at trial, there’s no guarantee of success, and a jury may decide for the defendant—meaning you and your family would get nothing.
When you work with an experienced personal injury attorney at Trentalange & Kelley P.A., you’ll know that your interests are put first and that they’ll do everything they can to present the strongest case possible to the defendant’s lawyer to support the compensation you’re requesting.
Moreover, because they’ve worked on thousands of personal injury cases, they know whether the defendant is offering a fair offer. If the responsible party makes a “low-ball” offer, you may be forced to take your case to trial or at least threaten to proceed to trial. At Trentalange & Kelley P.A., we’ll advise you on the best course of action, so that you receive full and fair compensation.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s critical that you have an experienced personal injury attorney. You should speak to an attorney at Trentalange & Kelley P.A. Our wrongful death litigators can counsel you and your family on the pros and cons of filing suit and going to trial versus seeking a settlement based on the specifics of your case.
At Trentalange & Kelley P.A. in Tampa, Florida, we’ll help you with all of the issues to make certain that you’re successful in obtaining the compensation you and your family deserve for the wrongful death of a loved one.
Call 813-226-1080 for a free consultation.