What is a wrongful death case?
The simplest answer is that when negligence results in death, that is a wrongful death case. Wrongful death does not necessarily refer to the type of negligence that causes the death, but instead refers to the result of the negligence. A wrongful death case could be the result of a car accident, medical malpractice, premises negligence, or any other type of negligent conduct. In Florida, when someone is killed as a result of negligence, there are specific laws and rules that must be followed in order to preserve and prosecute the rights of those left behind.
Considerations in a wrongful death case
Who can bring a wrongful death case?
The Florida Wrongful Death Act is contained in Florida Statute Chapter 768.16 to 768.26. The Act eliminates the ability of every survivor to bring a lawsuit and instead confers standing to bring a wrongful death case on the Personal Representative of the Estate of the deceased individual. Accordingly, a Personal Representative must be appointed in a wrongful death case and that will be done in a probate court. Although only the Personal Representative can bring a lawsuit, each of the survivors of the deceased is permitted to have a separate attorney that will represent their interests. At our firm, we will prosecute cases on behalf of the personal representative or we will represent the interest of survivors even if they are not appointed as the personal representative.
Who is considered a survivor?
Pursuant to Florida Statute 768.18, a survivor is defined as follows:
Survivors are individuals that MAY have a claim for damages in a wrongful death case. There may be situations where someone is a survivor but they do not have a claim for damages. For instance, a brother or sister of a deceased individual could be a survivor but if that person did not rely on the deceased individual for support or services they may not have any damages.
What type of damages are recoverable?
The damages recoverable in a wrongful death case are covered in Florida Statute 768.21. The damages available may differ depending on the type of negligence that resulted in the death. For example, in a wrongful death case caused by medical malpractice, if the deceased individual is 25 years old or older and does not have a surviving spouse, the surviving parents do not have a claim for mental pain and suffering. This is an arbitrary distinction created by the legislature to impair the rights of survivors in medical malpractice cases but it exists nonetheless. The type of damages are also specific to the survivor. A brother or sister is not able to recover for mental pain and suffering but a spouse may be able to. If you are the personal representative or a survivor in a wrongful death case it is imperative that you consult with an attorney to ensure that your rights are being protected.
Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations in a wrongful death case is covered in Florida Statute Chapter 95.11. The statute of limitations defines how long the personal representative has to file a lawsuit for the wrongful death of the deceased. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case is two years. If you believe that an individual may have died as a result of negligence, you must consult an attorney so the rights of all the survivors are protected.
Why to consider Bodenheimer Personal Injury Law Firm
If your loved one has passed away as a result of negligence, you need an attorney that will focus on that case. At our firm, we do not take every case that comes through the door because our mission is to provide every client with the representation that we would want for our family. That requires us to keep our case load low so that we can give each case the attention it deserves. If we are able to take your case, we promise to make ourselves available to communicate with you at any time, including the weekends. Achieving justice for the death of a loved may be the most important thing to a person and we have to be there to ensure that justice is achieved.
Contact us today
If you believe you are a survivor in a wrongful death case, contact us today. At Bodenheimer Personal Injury Law Firm, our main office is located in Hollywood, Florida but we handle cases throughout the State of Florida. You can reach us at (954) 712-7402, [email protected], or you can fill out a contact form on this website. Let us help you get the justice you deserve.