Call Today For Your Free Consultation
No Fee Unless We Win (941) 954-4000

Steps to File a Wrongful Death Claim In Florida

March 12, 2024 Legal Team
graveyard and stones near tree with caption: Steps to take to file a wrongful death claim in Florida

In Florida, civil law holds careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongful individuals or business entities accountable when their negligent actions cause death to someone else. A wrongful death claim in Florida cannot return a lost loved one, but it provides family members with financial compensation and a sense of justice and accountability. A wrongful death claim is a civil action seeking monetary compensation from an at-fault party. It proceeds independently of any criminal action in the same case. In a wrongful death claim, the courts allow close family members of a deceased injury victim to recover compensation for the loss of a provider, whether that was a family income provider or a provider of household services.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to another party’s actions or negligence and are considering a Florida wrongful death claim, it helps to know the steps for filing this type of action.

First, Know Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida

Like all states, Florida limits those eligible to file a wrongful death claim only to those family members who face financial impacts from the death. This prevents distant family members from exploiting the death for financial gain. In Florida, the following family members may benefit from a wrongful death claim:

  • The decedent’s spouse
  • The decedent’s parent
  • The adult children of the decedent

Typically, the person named as an executor or personal representative in the decedent’s estate plan or last will and testament serves as a representative and files the claim on behalf of the close surviving family members. In most cases, this is one of the above close relatives, but the court may appoint a representative if the only surviving family members are minor children.

Less commonly, a dependent sibling or other family member who depended on the decedent for financial support may file a wrongful death claim in Florida.

Make Sure You Are Within the State’s Statute of Limitations for Florida Wrongful Death Claims

In Florida, close family members must file a wrongful death claim within the state’s two-year statute of limitations. Some exceptions to this limit exist, for example, victims of medical malpractice may have extended time. The time limit may be tolled, or extended, if there was a cover-up or fraud to disguise the cause of death, when the defendant in the case is missing, or when the cause of death wasn’t discovered until some time later.

What are the Steps for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?

The following steps are a helpful guide to filing a wrongful death claim after the loss of a close family member in Florida. After determining if you are eligible to file and meet the deadline of the statute of limitations, do the following:

  • Gather documentation including the last medical report of the loved one before the accident or incident that caused their death, the medical report if they were hospitalized before the death, and the medical examiner’s or coroner’s report as well as a police report or accident report
  • Gather receipts for medical bills, funeral expenses, and burial costs
  • Have a consultation with a Sarasota wrongful death attorney or a Bradenton wrongful death attorney from Shapiro | Delgado | Hofmann and bring the documentation
  • Your attorney will document evidence and carefully calculate your damages including lost income for the number of earning years the victim would have had left to them had they not died, lost benefits like retirement and health insurance, funeral costs, and compensation for grief and anguish
  • Your attorney presents evidence to the appropriate insurance company of the at-fault party and begins negotiating for the largest possible settlement
  • In some cases, all involved parties and their attorneys may attend mediation to work out a mutually acceptable settlement
  • If the insurer and/or defendant does not offer ample compensation in a settlement agreement, the case proceeds to court under the state’s statute of limitations
  • At the trial, both sides present evidence and testimony and the jury decides on the case and issues a verdict with an award for damages if the plaintiff wins the case

When a Florida wrongful death case requires court litigation it is a longer process, but often jury awards for damages are more than the victim would receive in a settlement.