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Navigating Florida’s Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Which Relatives Can File A Lawsuit?

November 18, 2023 Legal Team

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is a devastating experience. In Florida, the law allows certain individuals to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. Understanding who has the right to initiate such legal action and the procedures involved is crucial for seeking justice for the departed and their family.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?

According to Florida’s statutes, specifically Florida Statute 768.20, only certain individuals, as outlined by the law, have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These eligible individuals typically include:

  1. Surviving Spouse: The surviving spouse holds the primary right to bring a wrongful death claim.
  2. Children: If there is no surviving spouse, or if the spouse does not initiate legal action within a specified time frame, the deceased’s children may have the right to file the lawsuit.
  3. Parents: In situations where there are no surviving spouse or children, the deceased’s parents may be eligible to bring forth a wrongful death claim.

Disagreements Between Beneficiaries

In cases where multiple eligible individuals exist—such as surviving spouses, children, or parents—disagreements might arise regarding who should file the wrongful death lawsuit or how any potential compensation should be distributed among the beneficiaries.

When there is a disagreement between eligible beneficiaries, it’s essential to resolve the matter amicably and in accordance with the law. If no consensus can be reached, the court may intervene to make decisions in the best interest of all parties involved.

Creation of an Estate for the Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Upon the death of an individual, especially in cases involving wrongful death, an estate may be established to pursue legal action on behalf of the deceased. The creation of an estate allows for the appointment of a personal representative, often named in the deceased’s will or appointed by the court if no will exists.

The personal representative acts on behalf of the estate and the beneficiaries, managing legal proceedings related to the wrongful death lawsuit. This representative is responsible for collecting assets, paying debts, and distributing any awarded compensation to the appropriate beneficiaries as directed by the court.

Initiating the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

Once the personal representative is appointed, they can proceed with filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. This legal action seeks to hold the negligent party accountable for the death and seeks compensation for damages suffered by the surviving beneficiaries.

The lawsuit typically involves gathering evidence, witness testimonies, expert opinions, and presenting a case to prove negligence or wrongful actions leading to the death. Damages sought in such lawsuits may include medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, and compensation for the emotional pain and suffering of the surviving family members.

Navigating a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida involves understanding the eligibility criteria for filing, addressing potential disagreements among beneficiaries, and establishing an estate to proceed legally. Seeking legal counsel from experienced attorneys specializing in wrongful death cases is crucial for proper guidance and representation throughout this challenging process. It is important to remember the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years.

Remember, the laws surrounding wrongful death lawsuits in Florida can be complex, and seeking advice from legal professionals and referring to the statutes, such as Florida Statute 768.20, is vital to ensure the proper and just handling of such cases. Contact the experienced wrongful death lawyers in Sarasota and Bradenton at Shapiro | Delgado | Hofmann. We offer free consultations and don’t get paid unless you win!