Wrongful death claims can be complex. The claim is a civil lawsuit that arises from someone’s direct actions or negligence that caused the death of another. The Florida legal system allows the personal representative of the deceased to recover financial compensation in a wrongful death claim. However, Florida has its own limitations on filing a suit and the personal representative must act quickly following the death in order to give themselves the best chance possible of receiving fair compensation.
The first step in collecting compensation for a wrongful death is consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney. After an initial consultation, your attorney will determine whether you have a valid claim for a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do, then your attorney will immediately begin establishing your case.
It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone that was close to the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate must be the one to file the claim. There cannot be multiple people with a wrongful death case for the same decedent, but the claim can be filed by the personal representative on behalf of all of the surviving family members or dependents affected. Each person must be listed in this case. This could include children, parents, a spouse, siblings or other relatives that depended on the deceased for support.
In addition to their being limitations on the person that can file, there is also a time limit in which the claim can be made. In Florida, this time limit is two years from the date that the person passed away. The date can be postponed for special circumstances, but typically once two years have passed the personal representative no longer has grounds to make a claim.
Aside from making sure that you have grounds to sue based on the time limits in place, you also need to make sure you have grounds for a claim in general. You must be able to establish two things in order to file a claim:
- Proof that the decedent’s death was caused by the other party. Whether that was through negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. Under the same circumstances if the person had survived the incident they would have had grounds to file for damages themselves.
- The survivors of the deceased must be able to prove that they have suffered a measurable loss due to the wrongful death of their loved one.
Hiring an attorney that is experienced with wrongful death claims is the best way to prove the above. A wrongful death attorney will present your case and attempt to negotiate for a fair settlement outside of court. Settling outside of court can save you the expense and stress of taking your case to trial. If a fair settlement cannot be agreed upon then your attorney will represent you in court. Your attorney will fight to collect damages that may include, but are not limited to:
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Lost income, earning, and benefits
- Medical and funeral expenses