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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death In Florida?

March 1, 2024 Legal Team
clock with the caption: What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?

When a family unexpectedly loses a loved one, it’s always a terrible time, but knowing that the death was preventable if only someone else had taken reasonable care causes additional anguish for those left behind. While nothing can make things right or bring the loved one back, a Florida wrongful death claim helps to relieve the additional burden of expenses and income loss from the death and provides family members with a sense of justice.

The timing of a wrongful death claim in Florida is important. Filing a claim too soon sometimes results in a lowball early settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurer. Overwhelmed family members may accept a low settlement before they know the full scope of the economic damages they’re facing from the death. Accepting a low offer means signing away the right to file a lawsuit. On the other hand, it’s critical to file a claim within the state’s time limit for wrongful death lawsuits so there is time to complete the claim, calculate the full damages, and file a lawsuit if the insurer doesn’t offer a fair settlement. So, what is the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Florida, and are there exceptions?

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Florida Wrongful Death Claims

Like all states, Florida places limits on filing claims for wrongful death. Not only does the state limit those who can file claims to immediate family members through a family representative, but it also limits the amount of time available to take the claim to court in a lawsuit. Florida’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the death. While two years may seem like more than enough time, it’s helpful to understand that a wrongful death claim typically begins much sooner. However, it takes time for the plaintiff in the case and their Florida wrongful death attorney to investigate the death, document evidence of the at-fault party’s liability, and then negotiate with the appropriate insurance company. For example, a malpractice insurer in a medical malpractice claim or an auto insurance company after a car accident may require multiple mediation attempts to reach a settlement agreement. If both sides cannot reach an agreement, the family representative must file a lawsuit and go to court within the state’s two-year statute of limitations.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Florida?

Sometimes family members worry that they’ve missed the deadline for their wrongful death claim due to Florida’s two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits. In limited cases, the state might “toll” or delay the time limit. Some examples of cases that might qualify for an extension include the following:

  • If fraud, a cover-up, or concealment of the facts took place, the court extends the statute of limitations to accommodate the lost time
  • In medical malpractice cases, it often takes time and an investigation to determine that the death resulted from malpractice. In this case, the time clock begins ticking on the date the family members discover their loved one’s cause of death rather than on the date of the death
  • In murder cases, the statute of limitations begins when the police identify the killer or take them into custody
  • If the person who caused the death is a hit-and-run driver who isn’t identified or apprehended until sometime after the death, the statute of limitations begins once they’re identified
  • If your wrongful death claim is against a government agency, the statute of limitations in Florida extends to four years after the death

If you have questions about the timing of your wrongful death claim and Florida’s statute of limitations, your Florida wrongful death attorney in Sarasota and wrongful death attorney in Bradenton can advise you.