Wrongful Death Claims: Information for Surviving Family Members
After losing a loved one to the negligent actions of a third party, surviving family members will understandably want time to grieve. However, it is also the time for them to start considering filing a wrongful death claim in pursuit of justice for the decedent and fair compensation for related damages. Since going through a legal process while simultaneously mourning the loss of a loved one will be difficult, it helps to prepare by learning the basics of Florida’s wrongful death laws upfront.
Florida’s Wrongful Death Laws 101: Key Elements
- Parties who can file a claim: Florida only allows the representative of the decedent’s estate to file a wrongful death claim. The representative will be named in the will. If not, the state appoints them, typically first appointing a spouse, then a child if there is no spouse, then a parent, and finally a sibling. The person who files the claim must list all eligible, interested parties as a plaintiff.
- Recoverable damages: The estate of the decedent can be awarded the wages the decedent would have earned in their lifetime had the accident or incident never occurred, as well as the likely earnings on investment accounts. Florida allows specific close family members to be compensated for loss of companionship, consortium, or parental guidance or protection. Any claimant can cite emotional harm and mental anguish as part of their damages in the wrongful death claim. Lastly, final medical expenses, funeral, and burial costs can be rewarded to either an individual or the decedent’s estate, depending on whose or what finances were used to pay for those costs.
- Statutes of limitations: The representative of the decedent’s estate only has two years from the date of the decedent’s passing to file a wrongful death claim. Any claim filed after the statute of limitations expires will be thrown out by the court automatically or at the defendant’s request. It could be possible for a court to approve the postponement of a statute of limitations in certain circumstances, such as when new information regarding the decedent’s death is developing shortly before the statute would normally expire.
Wrongful Death Claims 102: Taking Action
Actually creating a valid wrongful death claim under Florida’s statutes and getting it filed appropriately can be more difficult than you might expect. There is so much riding on the outcome of a wrongful death claim, a single error in the case could be devastating. Even though no amount of money can bring back a lost loved one, it can help you and other surviving family members find peace of mind as bills get paid and eventually move on with your grieving.
At The Pittman Firm, P.A., we are strong supporters of injury clients in need. We offer a welcome mix of legal prowess, courtroom presence, and true compassion. Led by Panama City Wrongful Death Attorney Wes Pittman, we have been able to recover millions of dollars for our clients throughout the last 30+ years. Contact our firm today to learn more about your rights as a surviving family member and how to start a claim.