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Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death In Florida?


When someone dies due to the negligence or recklessness of another person, it can feel as though your entire world has changed. In that kind of situation, trying to recover financially may feel obscene, or it may simply feel like a low priority. Florida law does not actually permit a deceased person’s surviving relatives to file suit for wrongful death – but the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can do so, for the benefit of the surviving relatives. 

The Decedent’s Personal Representative 

Wrongful death is specifically defined as a death resulting from someone’s “wrongful act, negligence, default,” or breach of contract or warranty, where the deceased person would conceivably have had a claim against the defendant for damages if they had survived. There are several different ways that this can occur, but regardless of the manner, it is the defendant’s behavior that will form the crux of this kind of lawsuit. If a duty to exercise reasonable care existed, the defendant may wind up on the hook, so to speak.

Unlike in most other jurisdictions, Florida requires that any wrongful death suit be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. (That said, any proceeds gained if the suit is successful will generally go toward the deceased person’s surviving relatives.) A personal representative is usually named by the decedent in their will, but if they do not have one, or have not named one, the heirs will usually name one, who can then act on their behalf.

Who Recovers?

Establishing that your loved one’s death was wrongful can be done by following the principles of negligence law, as most wrongful death cases stem from accusations of negligence against a defendant. It can be difficult to show that the death was directly related to the defendant’s breach of their duty to exercise reasonable care, but in order to prevail in court, you must be able to do so. You must also be able to show that the decedent suffered tangible injuries that would have given rise to a claim, had they survived.

If the wrongful death case is successful, compensation will be paid to the family, then to the estate. The family and the estate can recover for different causes of action; for example, the family can recover for pain and suffering, loss of support and services, and medical expenses, among other things, while the estate can recover for expenses like medical or funeral expenses paid out of the estate, as well as benefits and lost wages for the deceased if they did not pass away immediately.

Contact A Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney

Losing someone suddenly can be life-changing, and in many situations, thinking of monetary compensation will be the last thing on your list. A Tampa wrongful death attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can try to answer any questions you may have about wrongful death suits, and provide compassionate representation at a time when many need all the help they can get. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.



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