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Wrongful Death FAQ

What is a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim is a legal claim brought by the estate of a deceased person (on behalf of the survivors), seeking damages from another person or entity who’s wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty caused the death.

Who files a wrongful death claim?

The personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the person who must bring the wrongful death action on behalf of the estate and the survivors of the decedent. A personal representative of a decedent’s estate is appointed by a probate court. If the decedent had a will, then the will may state a preference in the appointment of a personal representative. If the decedent did not have a will, then the decedent’s spouse or other close family member is usually appointed as the personal representative.

Who is considered a survivor?

  • Pursuant to Florida Statute, “survivors” include:
  • The decedent’s spouse, children, and parents
  • When partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters
  • A child born out of wedlock of a mother
  • A child born out of wedlock of the father, only if the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support

What must I prove in order to succeed in a wrongful death action?

In order to succeed in a wrongful death action in Florida, you must prove the following:

(1) your loved has died;

(2) the death was caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person (or entity); and

(3) the event would have entitled your loved one to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.

If a settlement is not reached in your wrongful death case, then you would have to prove these three things to a jury in order to succeed in your wrongful death action. In wrongful death cases, the death is usually caused by the negligent act of another, however, intentional acts such as murder may also provide a basis for a wrongful death action.

What type of damages are recoverable in wrongful death actions?

  • Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value
  • The surviving spouse may recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury
  • Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury
  • Each parent of a deceased minor child may recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury
  • Each parent of an adult child may recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors
  • Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them
  • In some cases, the loss of earnings of the deceased from the date of injury to the date of death and the loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate, which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death

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

In Florida, a claim for wrongful death must be brought within 2 years after the person’s death. If you fail to file a wrongful death claim with the clerk of court within the two year statute of limitations, then your claim may be lost forever.

Do I need a Lawyer?

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident caused by someone else, then it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Most of the time, the person who negligently caused an injury has automobile insurance covering them for the losses they have caused. The insurance carriers who must defend the other party and pay any settlement or award have attorneys and adjusters working hard on their side. These adjusters and attorneys will stop at nothing to negate their client’s fault in causing your injury, and to minimize the extent of your injuries.

To receive the compensation that you may deserve, you need to have someone working just as hard for you. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will assist in preliminary negotiations with the insurance company’s adjusters. Attempting to negotiate with the adjusters yourself could leave you with little to nothing because the adjusters will not take your claim seriously. If a lawsuit is filed, combating the claims of the other party’s attorney requires extensive legal and practical knowledge. If you do not employ someone with this knowledge, you may not receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.

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  • Brandon Office
    206 Mason Street
    Brandon, Florida 33511
    Phone: 813-681-4246
    Fax: 813-653-9668