What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?
For families who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of others (including individuals, corporations, and more), filing a wrongful death claim serves a few important purposes. First and foremost, it ensures that the at-fault party is held accountable. While some fatal accident cases lead to criminal charges, many do not, and even a criminal conviction won’t necessarily ensure that justice prevails.
Second, it provides closure. Knowing that the at-fault party has been held accountable helps many family members with the coping process. If the at-fault party is still living a normal life or conducting business as usual, this can be difficult to accept and it can make it hard to move on.
Finally, filing a wrongful death claim provides surviving family members with a source of financial recovery. From medical bills to loss of income and inheritance, the untimely death of a loved one can have significant financial consequences.
Grieving family members do not deserve to endure the consequences of someone else’s negligence. Filing a wrongful death claim provides the opportunity to recover compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages associated with a loved one’s death.
Wrongful Death Claims Are Subject to a Strict Statute of Limitations
If your loved one died due to the negligence of another, Florida’s statute of limitations places an absolute limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Families have up to two years from the date of death to file wrongful death lawsuits in most cases. Waiting even a day longer can result in loss of the ability to file a wrongful death claim, even if it is clear that you and your family are entitled to just compensation.
Knowing that Florida’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years, there are some other important factors that family members need to keep in mind. These factors include:
1. Filing an Insurance Claim Does Not Satisfy the Statute of Limitations
Following fatal car accidents, falls, and other types of accidents, it will often make sense to file an insurance claim before going to court. However, filing an insurance claim does not satisfy the statute of limitations. Thus, if your family (or your family’s attorney) is negotiating with the insurance companies when the statute of limitations expires, you may forfeit the right to recovery.
2. It Takes Time to Build a Wrongful Death Claim
Investigating a wrongful death takes time. From evaluating evidence gathered at the scene of the fatal accident to obtaining phone records, employment records, surveillance camera footage, and other forms of evidence from a variety of sources, it can easily take several months to determine exactly what happened.
As a result, even though your family may have two years to file a lawsuit, you will need to start the process of building the claim much sooner.
3. It Takes Time to Prepare a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Preparing a wrongful death lawsuit takes time as well. Your family’s attorney will need to determine what party or parties are liable, as well as the strategies for successfully resolving your claim.
Although a wrongful death attorney can do a lot of the heavy lifting on your behalf, you and your loved ones will likely need to be involved in the process as well. Your input and testimony could be crucial for making the strongest case possible.
4. Only the Decedent’s Personal Representative Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Under Florida law, only a decedent’s personal representative can file a wrongful death claim. If your loved one left a will, the will should designate a personal representative.
However, there will occasionally be disputes regarding who should serve as a decedent’s personal representative. In the absence of a will, a personal representative will need to be appointed through the probate process.
5. Waiting Can Make It More Difficult to Secure a Favorable Result
In general, any unnecessary delays can present potential risks for your wrongful death claim. With this in mind, it is best to start the process as soon as possible.
If you believe that your family may have a claim, you should contact an attorney promptly. You and your loved ones should be prepared to work with the lawyer to ensure that he or she is able to assert your family’s legal rights in a timely manner.
Get Started on Your Wrongful Death Claim Today
Two years is not a lot of time. Amid the challenges of recovering from the death of a loved one (such as coping with the loss, overcoming financial difficulties, and more), it can be easy to overlook your legal options.
If someone else is responsible for the death of your family member, it is in your best interest to explore your options for obtaining compensation.
Contact Colling Gilbert Wright by calling (407) 712-7300 today for a free consultation. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and all of Florida.