Every state, including Florida, has a statute of limitations that limits how long you have to file a lawsuit. However, the amount of time you have to file a case is different in each state.
In Florida, the wrongful death statute of limitations is found in Section 95.11(4)(d) of the Florida Statutes. You generally have two (2) years from the date of death to file a wrongful death case. In very specific circumstances, such as when a person is intentionally killed, the statute of limitations may be extended.
What is the length of time required in wrongful death lawsuits?
Complicated wrongful death litigation may go on for years. Many time-consuming stages are involved, including:
- Making a personal representative appointment.
- Obtaining data on survival and the reason of death
- Making a claim for compensation and requesting a monetary settlement.
- Filing a formal legal claim, also known as a complaint, with the court.
- Obtaining statements and documents from the opponent is known as discovery.
- Witnesses are being interviewed.
- To try settlement, a mediation meeting is being held.
- If necessary, taking the matter to trial.
- If you disagree with the result of a decision, you may appeal it.
- Your wrongful death attorney will undertake all of these tasks as soon as feasible in order to move the case ahead.
How Do You Establish Wrongful Death?
To file a legitimate wrongful death claim, you must be able to show the following four elements:
In wrongful death claims, we must demonstrate that the death of the plaintiff's relative was caused in part or entirely by the defendant's negligence, recklessness, or negligent behavior.
To be successful in a wrongful death action, the plaintiffs must be able to demonstrate that the defendant had a responsibility to the victim. Motorists, for example, have a responsibility to drive safely and to observe and respect traffic rules. Medical health professionals and physicians have a responsibility to keep people healthy.
The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate how the defendant had a responsibility and how that obligation was broken as a consequence of their negligent behavior.
Furthermore, in order to establish that the defendant's responsibility to the victim was broken, the plaintiff in the action must demonstrate how the defendant's conduct caused the death of their loved one.
In order to establish a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim's death must also result in measurable losses. This might include:
- Medical costs
- Funeral expenses
- The price of a funeral
- Income loss Potential earnings loss
- Loss of security, direction, and inheritance
- The victim's agony and suffering before to death
Proving these issues in court via a wrongful death case will need the provision of strong and persuasive evidence. Some evidence may need the testimony of expert witnesses. A wrongful death attorney will assist you in building your case based on the facts and evidence supplied.
What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations?
If you miss the statute of limitations, your wrongful death case will likely be dismissed. The defendant will file a motion with the court to dismiss the case explaining that the statute of limitations has expired. Unless you have a legally valid reason for missing the statute of limitations, your lawsuit will be dismissed without ever being heard on its merits, and you won’t make a financial recovery.
How to Start a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Florida, What Is "Wrongful Death"?
A wrongful death occurs in Florida when a person or business causes the death of another person via a "wrongful conduct, carelessness, default, or breach of contract or guarantee." (Florida Statute 768.19 (2021).) In other terms, a wrongful death happens when one person dies as a consequence of the legal fault of another party, such as:
- A case of carelessness (such as a car accident)
- Medical malpractice, a faulty product, or a deliberate act (including a crime)
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
In certain places, the deceased's family may sue for wrongful death. In contrast, Florida law requires the personal representative (sometimes known as a "executor") of the dead person's estate to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. (Florida Statute 768.20 (2021).)
A personal representative brings a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the dead person's estate and any surviving family members, and the personal representative must specify all prospective beneficiaries when submitting the claim.
What Are the Possible Damages in a Florida Wrongful Death Case?
In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant will be ordered to pay "damages"—or the plaintiff's stated losses—to compensate for the death. Under Florida law, prospective wrongful death remedies are divided into two categories: damages granted to the dead person's family and damages paid to the estate. Damages given to the family often involve monetary compensation for:
- The loss of the dead person's support and services to family members
- Emotional agony and suffering as a result of the departed person's loss of company and protection
- The loss of parental companionship, instruction, and direction, as well as the payment of medical and burial costs by a surviving family member
The estate of a dead individual may also collect certain sorts of damages, such as:
- Lost wages, benefits, and other earnings from the date of the person's injury to the date of his or her death
- The value of earnings and benefits that the deceased person could reasonably have been expected to save and leave as part of the estate if he or she had lived
- Medical and funeral expenses paid directly by the estate
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
A personal representative of the deceased's estate must file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. This personal representative might be named in the dead individual's estate plan or will. If there is no will or estate plan, a court-appointed representative will be chosen.
In Florida, a wrongful death lawsuit is brought on behalf of the dead person's estate and any family members, as well as the personal representative. The personal representative must provide a list of people from the deceased's estate who have an interest in the claim in the claim.
During a Florida wrongful death lawsuit, the following family members may collect damages from the deceased:
- Wife, children, or parents
- relatives by blood
- Adoptive children
- When there is no spouse, adult children
- Parents of little children
How Do Wrongful Death Settlements Work?
Wrongful death attorneys collect a check from the at-fault party's insurance company, subtract their own costs, and then pay the agreed-upon sum to the plaintiffs in the case. These money will be distributed directly to the plaintiffs rather than to the estate of the dead.
You will not have to pay income, estate, or inheritance taxes on the amount received in a wrongful death settlement.
How Much Compensation Can You Recover for Wrongful Death?
Death compensation is computed by first totaling the monetary losses linked with your loved one's death. Once this value is decided, it will serve as the foundation for calculating your pain and suffering damages. The multiplier or per diem procedures will be used by your wrongful death attorney and the at-fault party's insurance to arrive at this sum.
The easiest way to make sure that you comply with the statute of limitations and all other legal timelines and requirements is to contact an experienced Florida wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
You shouldn’t wait until the statute of limitations has almost expired. Instead, you should contact an attorney as soon as you can after your loved one’s death. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more likely it is that the attorney can gather credible evidence for your wrongful death case. Additionally, the sooner you begin a case, the sooner the case may be resolved.
If you need to file a wrongful death case, contact attorney Coy H. Browning today to schedule your free evaluation. He will discuss your rights, how to best protect them, and what you may recover in a successful Florida wrongful death lawsuit.