Can I file a wrongful death claim in Florida?

Losing a loved one is always hard. But when another person’s negligence or deliberate actions directly caused your loved one’s death, it is especially painful. Although nothing can bring your loved one back, a wrongful death claim can help you recover legal compensation that you and your family deserve. It is important to note that not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim in Florida.

Learn whether you can file a claim here.

Who can file a wrongful death claim? 

Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, only the personal representative of the person who died can file a wrongful death claim. This rule prevents duplicate wrongful death cases from ending up in court for the same accident.

In some cases, the deceased names the personal representative in his/her will. If a person dies without a will, obviously, there is no personal representative. In these cases, a judge will appoint someone to act as the personal representative and this person will file the claim.

By default, the court will first appoint the surviving spouse. If no spouse exists, the court will appoint the majority heir as the personal representative. To be a personal representative, a person must:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Be mentally and physically able to perform the tasks of a personal representative
  • Have no felony convictions 

Who can benefit from the settlement?

Traditionally, only close family members or people who were financially dependent on the person who died can benefit from a wrongful death claim. Under Fla. Stat. § 768.21, many different types of people can recover compensation through a wrongful death claim.

The following types of people may receive funds from a wrongful death claim in Florida:

Surviving Spouses: Legally married spouses can receive compensation for mental pain and suffering and for the loss of support, services, companionship, and protection.

Minor Children: Any children under the age of 25 (for the purposes of the Wrongful Death Act, these are “minors”), including children who are not yet born and adopted children can recover compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Adult Children: Children over the age of 25 can receive compensation for damages for lost support and services. They can only recover compensation for loss of parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and mental anguish if there was no surviving spouse.

Parents: Both the natural or adoptive parents of a child who was wrongfully killed can recover compensation through a wrongful death claim. Parents may recover mental pain and suffering damages, but only if there is no spouse or child of the person who died.  

Other relatives: Additional relatives, such as siblings, can recover economic damages if they were partly or wholly dependent on the person who died.

Where can I get help with my wrongful death claim?

Losing a loved one is extremely difficult. We want you to focus on your yourself and your family during this difficult time instead of trying to prove your loved one’s death was due to another party’s negligence or malicious actions.

Coffey Trial Law will handle your case for you. Give us a call at 954-541-3194 to schedule a free consultation when you are ready.