Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Few things in life are as traumatic as the unexpected death of a loved one. The grief that comes with such a loss can be unbearable, causing an extreme amount of pain, suffering, and anguish.
There can also be more tangible consequences of an unexpected death, including lost income and a loss of services and support. This is especially true when the deceased was the primary provider for the family. In this case, such a loss can completely upend the lives of the survivors.
If your family is facing this tragic situation, it is important to know your legal rights. Surviving family members can pursue compensation from the negligent party or parties that caused the death of a loved one. Under Florida law, however, only certain individuals can file a claim and/or are eligible to recover damages. In addition, these claims must be filed within a limited time.
The Orlando wrongful death lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter can advise you of your rights to bring a claim for the death of a loved one. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
In many states, surviving family members can bring a wrongful claim themselves. However, the claims process works differently in The Sunshine State.
According to Florida Law, the personal representative of the decedent must bring a wrongful death claim. The individual designated as the personal representative may be named in the decedent’s will or estate plan (if such a document exists). If no will or estate plan exists, the court will appoint a personal representative who will act on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
Generally, the appointed personal representative will be a surviving family member. If you are named or appointed the personal representative, you have the option to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate as well as surviving members of the family.
Who Can Recover Damages for Wrongful Death?
Damages in a wrongful death claim include both economic losses and non-economic losses. These types of damages are defined as follows:
- Economic damages refer to loss of earnings, medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of benefits (including a pension and 401k), and loss of services (for example, childcare or housekeeping).
- Non-economic damages refer to the pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance, and other “intangible” losses experienced by the surviving family.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be considered. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party for extreme negligence or malicious conduct.
While there are some technicalities around who can recover compensation for these damages, the eligible parties generally include:
- Blood relatives who were partially or fully dependent on the deceased
- Adoptive brothers and sisters who were partially or fully dependent on the deceased
When filing a claim, the personal representative must list potential beneficiaries. The beneficiaries’ relationship to the deceased must also be established in a wrongful death claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In wrongful death claims, as with most lawsuits, there is a statute of limitations. This sets a time period during which a claim can be brought. If the claim is not filed during this time period, then surviving family members will most likely not be able to pursue compensation for the damages stemming from the wrongful death.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is generally two years from the date of death. The time limit may be extended in some situations, but these circumstances are rare.
With this in mind, you and your loved ones should contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after your loved one’s passing. It takes time to build a case against the party or parties at fault for your loved one’s death, and delaying legal action can make it more difficult to recover the compensation you and your family deserve.
Contact an Orlando Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you have recently lost a loved one unexpectedly, we are tremendously sorry for your loss. Managing your affairs and facing the emotional difficulties of the situation is an overwhelming burden, to say nothing of the legal challenges if your loved one died due to the negligence of another. The team at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter is here to help.
Our attorneys have extensive experience handling many types of wrongful death claims. We can take on the complexities of your case, such as identifying those at fault, gathering evidence, and pursuing compensation for your losses, so you and your relatives can focus on healing.
For a free case review, please contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter at (407) 712-7300 today. Our wrongful death lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.