If you’ve had the misfortune of losing someone in your family, you are all too familiar with the challenges of dealing with the aftermath. In addition to the emotional and psychological burden of dealing with a loved one’s departure, there are many issues that have to be dealt with. These tasks include, preparing for a funeral, executing a will and dealing with bank accounts, etc.
Dealing with all these different issues while grieving a loss can take a huge mental and emotional toll. So it’s understandable that any thoughts of a lawsuit remain on the backburner. However, if you believe that your loved one’s passing was a wrongful death you are able to pursue a wrongful death claim.
What are Wrongful death claims and who can file them?
Wrongful death claims are a civil claim against a party who was at fault for a death. These lawsuits can be filed against individuals as well as organizations whose negligence or malfeasance caused the death of your loved one. In Florida, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. However, when the representative files the claim, they technically do so on behalf of the deceased’s estate and any surviving family members.
While an individual may be facing criminal charges for manslaughter or murder, these are criminal proceedings that generally do not make provisions for the survivors of the deceased. If you believe that you or other family members should seek damages, then you may consider pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time limit for claims to be brought to court before you forego any right to seek damages. For wrongful death cases in the state of Florida, the statute of limitations is two years.
If you have cause to believe that someone may be responsible for a wrongful death of a family member and are considering taking action, you must be aware of Florida’s two-year statute of limitations if you are to have any right to damages.
A discovery rule is a provision for certain cases whereby a statute of limitations can be extended. For example, a medical malpractice claim where the effect of the medical malpractice wasn’t noticed by the victim until years after an operation.
However, the courts have held that the discovery rule does not apply for wrongful death cases in Florida. Thus, you must submit any wrongful death claims within two years of the death, regardless of any new discoveries.
Because of all the other immediate concerns following a death, filing for a wrongful death claim can be one of the last things on a grieving family member’s mind. Due to Florida’s strict statute of limitations, however, it is imperative that you start this process sooner than later if you believe that the survivors of the deceased should receive damages.