The personal representative of the estate of someone who passed away is the person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Orlando. In this type of lawsuit, the personal representative of an estate is seeking damages for the benefit of the survivors of the deceased person, as well as their estate.
Persons Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Florida Statutes § 768.20 states that the personal representative of the estate of the deceased person is the one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Orlando. In some cases, the deceased has named a person or persons to act as personal representative of his estate through the estate planning process. In other cases, the probate court will appoint a personal representative of the estate of the deceased person.
The personal representative must list all survivors when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Florida Statutes § 768.18, the survivors of a deceased person include their:
Children born out of wedlock are survivors of their deceased mothers. However, children are only survivors of their deceased fathers if their fathers had recognized a responsibility for support of the children. Furthermore, if they were dependent on the deceased person for support or services, survivors also may include any blood relatives and adoptive brothers or sisters.
When You Have the Right to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
Florida Statutes § 768.19 gives individuals the right to file a lawsuit and seek damages after the death of loved ones, as long as they would have had the right to bring a claim for damages had they survived their injuries. Wrongful death lawsuits are possible when a person dies as a result of negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty, including when accidents occur on navigable waters.
Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Survivors can request different types of damages in a wrongful death case based on the circumstances. Common damages in wrongful death cases include expenses for final medical expenses that accrue before death, as well as funeral and burial expenses paid by survivors.
Families also can claim the lost income, benefits, and other earnings that their loved ones would have contributed to them if they had survived.
Some types of compensation depend on the relationship between the surviving relative and the deceased. For example, if parents lose their minor child as a result of the negligence of others, they can claim compensation for the emotional suffering resulting from the loss of a child; parents can claim similar damages for the loss of their adult children if they have no other survivors.
Damages Spouses May be Eligible to Collect
Individuals who lose their spouses may be able to collect compensation for their loss of companionship, protection, support, and services, as well as damages for emotional suffering.
Damages Children May Qualify to Collect
Furthermore, children who lose a parent may be eligible for compensation for loss of financial and educational support. Minor children, or those who are under the age of 25 under the Florida wrongful death statute, also can collect compensation for loss of parental guidance, instruction, and companionship, as well as for mental suffering.
Minor children generally will receive more compensation than adult children, as they are more likely to be dependent on their parents for support.
Compensation for the Estate of the Deceased
The estate of the deceased also has independent claims in a wrongful death case against those who are responsible for the death. Florida Statutes § 768.21(6) allows the personal representative of the estate to recover the following forms of compensation:
- Lost earnings between the date of injury and the date of death
- Loss of the net accumulations of the estate that were reasonably expected if survivors include a spouse or lineal descendants, or if the decedent is an adult over 25 with no recoverable loss of support or services and a parent survives the decedent
- Medical or funeral expenses that become a charge against the estate
Florida Statutes § 768.18 defines the “net accumulations of the estate” as that part of the expected income that the decedents likely would have saved as part of their estates, had they lived out their normal life expectancy. In other words, this sum is the probable gross income after payment of taxes, personal expenses, and support of survivors.
How Long You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Court
Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d) generally gives a personal representative two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit in court. Meeting this filing deadline or statute of limitations is crucial.
Otherwise, the personal representative risks losing the opportunity to hold the negligent party accountable for the wrongful death or to obtain compensation for survivors and the estate.
Get Legal Representation in Your Wrongful Death Case
If you and your family have suffered the loss of a loved one as a result of the negligence of others, you may have a wrongful death case. Understanding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Orlando and other facts about wrongful death claims can help you make well-informed decisions about your legal options. Call our wrongful death lawyer today.
Contact the offices of Bogin, Munns & Munns at (407) 578-9696 today and learn more about what steps to take after a negligent accident takes the life of your loved one.