Florida Law Limits Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

In some states, family members such as the surviving spouse, surviving adult children, or surviving parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated in Florida. 

Under Florida law, the wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. The situation becomes more complicated if the victim does not have a will or other estate planning document that names a personal representative. However, this does not mean that you have no claim – just that additional steps will need to be taken in order to have someone appointed as the victim’s personal representative. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions or negligence, a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can help you navigate the process. 

Who Can the Personal Representative Assist?

It is important to note that the personal representative is not suing on their own behalf. Instead, they are filing the lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s estate, including any potential beneficiaries. To that end, the personal beneficiary must list all potential beneficiaries who may have an interest in the outcome of the lawsuit, including the following: 

  • The surviving spouse
  • The surviving children (both minor and adult children)
  • The surviving parents

The people listed above are considered to be the “primary beneficiaries.” In other words, their claims will be given priority over claims that other family members or other people who were financially dependent upon the victim may have. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can help you determine whether you might have a claim. 

A Boca Raton Wrongful Death Lawyer Helping You Recover the Compensation You Need to Rebuild Your Life

While no amount of money can fully replace the loss in your life, Florida law allows the surviving family members to pursue damages to cover the financial harm and other losses you are experiencing. 

The damages that are available fall into two categories: 

  1. Damages available to the family; and
  2. Damages available to the estate. 

The damages available to the family members include the following: 

  • The loss of services and support that the victim provided to the family, including their support, instruction, and guidance as a parent; 
  • The loss of companionship;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • The victim’s medical and funeral expenses were paid by the family.

The damages available to the estate include the following: 

  • The victim’s lost wages, benefits, and other income from the date of their injury until their death (unless they died at the scene of the incident); 
  • The victim’s expected earnings and benefits that were lost as a result of their premature death; and
  • Any medical and funeral expenses that were paid by the estate. 

All of these damages are not necessarily available in every case. In the case of the death of a child, for example, expected lost income may not be available. Furthermore, surviving minor children are likely to be entitled to greater damages than surviving adult children. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer can evaluate your claim and determine what compensation you may be entitled to pursue. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Wrongful Death Claims

How long do I have to file a wrongful death claim?

The statute of limitations under Florida law requires that any wrongful death claim be filed within two years of the date of the victim’s death. If you do not file within that deadline, you will lose all of your rights to compensation regardless of how strong your case may be. The only exception is in deaths caused by murder or manslaughter. Even though this sounds like a long time, we encourage you to contact a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. 

My loved one has been seriously injured and may not survive. Should I contact a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer now? 

Most lawyers who handle wrongful death claims also handle personal injury cases. As a result, they may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation if their injuries are the result of another party’s negligence. Should your loved one not survive, they will be well-positioned to handle the subsequent wrongful death claim. 

What do I have to prove in a wrongful death claim?

Generally speaking, you will need to prove that another person intentionally or negligently caused the death of the victim. Cases involving intentional deaths often involve criminal investigations and prosecutions and therefore have unique considerations. 

You will also need to prove your damages. This means that you will need to document any medical and funeral expenses, lost income, anticipated income, as well as things like lost companionship. Calculating damages in wrongful death claims is not easy, and we recommend that you work with an experienced Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer to ensure that you receive the compensation your family deserves. 

How does a pending criminal case affect my wrongful death claim?

While the cases arise from the same incident, your wrongful death claim is independent of any pending criminal case. For example, if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you can proceed with a wrongful death claim independently from any drunk driving charges. Even if the other person is found not guilty, you may still be able to successfully pursue your claim. The question is whether or not you should wait for the conclusion of the criminal charges – a conviction can be powerful evidence in your case. A Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer will be able to provide guidance as to when is the right time to pursue your claim.  

How much does it cost to hire a Boca Raton wrongful death lawyer?

Most, if not all, wrongful death lawyers handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that their fees are paid as a percentage of any compensation they recover for you. As a result, you do not pay any legal fees out-of-pocket. 

Turn To A Boca Raton Wrongful Death Attorney At The Grife Law Firm

No Fees Unless You Win

If you have been injured because of someone else’s careless actions on the water, you should contact a Boca Raton boat accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm to find out more about your legal options. We assist injured individuals throughout Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, including in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Call us at 855-998-0770 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We also are available to assist people who need a cruise ship accident attorney when they are injured on vacation.
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