What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil legal action that one party makes against another in the event the defendant’s actions led to the death of a plaintiff’s loved one. Not all deaths are considered wrongful deaths. Under Florida law, a wrongful death is one that occurs as a result of a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person…”

When Can I Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Florida law entitles eligible surviving family members, if they believe they have a cause of action, to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged liable party immediately following the demise of a loved one.

What Do I Have to Prove in a Florida Wrongful Death Claim? 

In a Florida wrongful death claim, the burden of demonstrating fault falls upon the plaintiff. The following four elements must be present to prove liability:

  • The defendant’s actions led to the death of an individual
  • The deceased would be able to bring a claim for damages had they survived
  • The estate of the deceased has appointed a personal representative and identified surviving family members
  • The death that occurred due to the defendant’s wrongful act or negligence caused harm to the deceased’s family members

Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A wide array of scenarios can give rise to a Florida wrongful death lawsuit. Some common types of wrongful death claims stem from:

  • Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
  • Boating accidents
  • Pedestrian, bicycle, and scooter accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Workplace injuries and illnesses
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective drug and medical devices 
  • Theme park accidents
  • Defective products
  • Assault, domestic violence, and other criminal activity

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?

Florida law requires that a personal representative of the deceased or the estate of the deceased must file a wrongful death claim on behalf of eligible family members. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act clearly states which family members receive compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit which include: 

  • Surviving spouse
  • Dependents including minor children, adopted children, and other blood relatives who relied on the deceased
  • Adult children of the deceased when no spouse exists
  • Parents when the deceased is a minor
  • Parents of adult victims when no other survivors exist

Florida Wrongful Death Damages 

Florida courts award wrongful death damages based on the financial need of surviving dependents, the expected life of the deceased, and the amount of fault the deceased holds for his or her own death. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, the estate of the deceased can recover the following wrongful death damages:

  • Loss of support and service
  • Loss of companionship after losing a spouse
  • Emotional pain and suffering
  • Lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance for minor children
  • Burial costs and funeral expenses
  • Lost wages from the date of injury to the date of death
  • Loss of prospective net accumulations of an estate 
  • Medical costs incurred until the time of death

In rare cases of extreme negligence or willful harm, Florida courts also award punitive damages in wrongful death cases intended to correct and punish the defendant’s behavior. Your Florida wrongful death lawyer can advise you on whether punitive damages apply to your case.

To connect with a leading Florida wrongful death attorney, call 561-678-4584 or fill out the form below.

Florida Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

A Florida wrongful death lawsuit must be filed against the alleged at-fault party within two years from the date of death. If parties do not take action within the two-year timeframe, it is highly unlikely a Florida court will hear the case. 

There are a few specific circumstances in which the statute of limitations can be extended. Reach out to a Florida wrongful death attorney, by calling 561-678-4584 or filling out the form below, to determine if your situation qualifies you for an extension under Florida law.

Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim if Criminal Charges Are also Brought?

Yes, you can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit if the alleged at-fault party has been criminally charged. Wrongful death claims are civil actions that are completely different from criminal proceedings. The outcome of a criminal trial does not impact the outcome of a civil case as civil jurors must adhere to a lower burden of proof when they decide a case. In a civil court case, the majority of the jury must agree that the defendant’s actions most likely lead to the death of your loved one based on a ‘preponderance of the evidence.’ This is different from the stricter ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ benchmark that jurors must use in a criminal trial.

Hiring the Leading Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer 

Coping with the sudden, tragic, and preventable loss of a loved one can put a massive amount of emotional pain and financial stress on families. We understand that obtaining compensation will not make up for what’s happened, but financial restitution can cover lofty expenses related to the loss of a family member, allowing families the time and space they need to heal. Florida wrongful death claims can be complex and overwhelming to navigate. A leading Florida wrongful death attorney will guide you through your case, seek justice on your deceased’s family member’s behalf, and advocate for you and your family to receive maximum compensation.

How The Law Center Can Help

The Russo Firm

The trusted and distinguished attorneys at The Russo Firm have been representing families in wrongful death suits throughout Florida for the past 25 years. The firm’s commitment to professional excellence and seeking justice for their clients have led to multiple landmark settlements, recovering over $1 billion in damages. In the event of a loved one’s wrongful death, the reputable and skilled attorneys at The Russo Firm are ready to take on your case and fight to ensure your legal rights are protected and exercised. 

The Law Center 

Our mission at The Law Center is to connect those who have been wrongfully injured, and the families of individuals who were killed by the negligence of another, with both reliable legal information and the premier attorneys who are best suited to help. We are devoted to ensuring our clients receive the exceptional legal aid they need to achieve justice and maximum compensation, to be able to restore their lives and move forward. For a free case evaluation and to be connected with a leading Florida wrongful death law firm, like The Russo Firm, call 561-678-4584 or fill out the form below.