Florida Wrongful Death Actions
For Florida families, facing the death of a loved one is painful, traumatic, and often expensive. When the death could have been avoided or is due to the negligence of another person, the trauma and grief may be significantly worse. Fortunately, Florida law allows the family of someone killed due to the negligence of another person the ability to seek compensation for their losses. In Florida, wrongful death suits are civil lawsuits that can be brought against a negligent party. These claims can be made in addition to any criminal actions pursued against the individual, and can be filed exclusive of any criminal actions.
When a wrongful death claim is filed, it becomes the responsibility of the family filing the claim (note that only certain individuals may file a claim on behalf of a deceased, such as a spouse, parent or child) to prove that the actions of the defendant are what caused the death leading to financial and emotional damage. Wrongful death claims can be pursued in cases involving automobile accidents, gunshot wounds, defective products, or medical malpractice.
While it is true that there is no “adequate” compensation for the loss of a cherished life, wrongful death claims can provide the family of the victim with much needed financial assistance, which can help pay for medical or funeral expenses, and can cover loss of future income that many families rely on.
The Florida Wrongful Death Act
The Florida Wrongful Death Act is the law that governs Florida wrongful death lawsuits. The Florida Wrongful Death Act contains certain procedural guidelines for wrongful death claims, including the statute of limitations, who may file a claim, and what damages can be sought. Additional guidelines of the Florida Wrongful Death Act include:
- The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the death under Florida law. Compensation cannot be sought after the two-year deadline has passed unless very specific circumstances are present. There are also specific circumstances that may prohibit filing within the two-year time period. Always consult an attorney about specific legal guidelines for your individual case.
- Persons legally able to file a wrongful death claim include the spouse, parents, children, or any relatives supported by the deceased individual.
- Compensation sought in wrongful death claims may include: medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages or income, pain and suffering caused by the death, and loss of companionship.
- Wrongful death laws in Florida have specific guidelines for negligence claims, claims arising in another jurisdiction, and other circumstances.
- Wrongful death claim guidelines are different for state entities or government entities, with a statute of limitations of four years. These cases often involve additional requirements, limitations, and exceptions to wrongful death cases filed against individuals.
- In the event that the defendant (wrongdoer) in a wrongful death case dies before the claim is settled, then the plaintiff (family member of deceased individual) must file a motion with the court to substitute the original defendant with a representative of his or her estate. This must be completed in 90 days in order for the case to proceed. If this requirement is not met, then the insurance company of the defendant may file for summary judgment, barring the claim from continuing.
While these are only some examples of the complexities of wrongful death claims, these examples show how important it is for Florida residents to be aware of their rights and responsibilities. Additionally, when considering filing a wrongful death claim, it is crucial to get the help of an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about wrongful death cases.
Examples of Wrongful Death
Many situations can result in a wrongful death claim. Some of the common situations that lead to wrongful death claims include:
- When the operator of a vehicle is driving while impaired causing an automobile accident that takes the life of a passenger, occupant of another vehicle, or a pedestrian
- When a vehicle malfunctions causing the driver to suffer a fatal accident
- When workplace machinery is neglected and malfunctions leading to a fatal accident
- When a healthcare provider fails to provide adequate care, such as prescribing the wrong medications, failing to monitor vitals, or improperly performing surgery
- When nursing homes neglect patients leading to injury or illness resulting in death
- When a fatal accident occurs due to neglected property owned by another party
- When a person is attacked by someone else’s dog leading to fatal injuries
While this list is hardly exhaustive, it does highlight some of the most common situations that result in wrongful death claims. Unfortunately, there are also situations that may seem like wrongful death cases but that are not covered under Florida’s wrongful death laws.
One of the most common situations that may seem like a wrongful death case is when a loved one is murdered. Because murder is the result (generally speaking) of intentional malicious acts, it does not qualify for wrongful death claims, which are based on negligence or defect.
What Gainesville Residents Should Know
Florida residents who have lost a loved one under any of the circumstances above, or a situation where the negligence of someone else has caused death, should be swift to investigate their legal rights. With the statute of limitations being only two years, families must act quickly to file their wrongful death claim in a timely manner. It is easy after a fatal incident to focus on grieving and settling the estate of loved ones, and often, filing a lawsuit is last on the list of priorities. Unfortunately, many families lose the opportunity to file a claim and seek compensation for their loss.
Fortunately, with the help of an experienced Gainesvilles wrongful death lawyer, families can rest assured that their case is in good hands as they focus on grieving and attending to personal matters. With the right balance of diligence, patience, and dedication, wrongful death claims can be successfully litigated providing Florida families with financial compensation that can be a tremendous help during a difficult time.
Contact an experienced Gainesvilles wrongful death attorney today for your free consultation.