Wrongful Death Cases In Florida
The average person is generally able to understand the concept of murder, where someone willfully and maliciously ends the life of another person. However, the civil action of wrongful death is less understood, and as a result, some people who might have a claim over the wrongful passing of a loved one may go without the compensation they deserve. Wrongful death is a claim made against someone whose negligence or ‘wrongful act’ caused the death of someone else, and the details must be correct in order to prevail on this type of case. An experienced attorney can help you get the process going.
Who Can Sue?
While murder and its lesser cousin manslaughter are criminal actions, meaning that the State of Florida brings those charges, wrongful death is a civil action that must be filed in court by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate – either chosen by the person or by the court, if the person died without a will. The personal representative brings the suit on behalf of any survivors – in Florida, that usually means the deceased’s spouse, parents, and children, as well as any blood relatives or adopted siblings that were “partially or wholly dependent” on the deceased.
It can be confusing to determine when a wrongful death suit is actually appropriate. In Florida, a wrongful death suit may be proper if a person’s negligence, ‘wrongful act,’ default, or breach of contract or warranty was the direct cause of your loved one’s passing. By comparison, if your loved one died as a result of an unforeseeable accident, it would likely not be a good idea to bring suit, because no one can prevent something that is not foreseeable by a reasonable person (that is, no one could possibly stop a random freak accident, so they should not be held liable for it).
If you do determine that there may be cause to file a wrongful death suit against a person, you must be able to establish that they were negligent or otherwise acted wrongfully (though the majority of wrongful death claims are filed under a theory of negligence). There are specific criteria that one has to demonstrate in Florida to establish a case for the defendant’s negligence. They are (1) that the defendant owed a duty of care toward the deceased person; (2) that the defendant breached that duty of care; and (3) that the defendant’s lack of care was the direct cause of the deceased’s passing.
Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations on wrongful death claims – in other words, a specific time frame in which you must file your suit before it is barred by law. In Florida, you have two years from the date of the deceased’s passing in which to file suit – which sounds like a long time, but it is actually quite short; filing papers and obtaining records takes time, and any witnesses’ memories will start to fade. Time will generally be of the essence if you decide to file suit, so it is crucial to act fast.
Call A Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Losing someone is never easy, especially if you believe it is due to another person’s negligence. If you have lost a loved one to a death you believe is wrongful, contacting a Tampa wrongful death lawyer at the Rinaldo Law Group is a good idea. While money cannot bring back the person your family has lost, it can help to keep the bills paid while you try to recover. Contact our offices today for compassionate and zealous representation.