Florida's Wrongful Death Act is a set of laws that allow certain individuals to seek damages when a loved one's death is caused by the negligence, wrongful act, or breach of contract of another party. However, not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Let's delve into understanding who can file a wrongful death claim in Florida.
1. Personal Representatives
In the state of Florida, the personal representative of the deceased's estate is the primary party who can file a wrongful death claim [FL Stat § 768.20 (2019)]. The personal representative is often designated in the deceased's will or estate plan. If no one is designated, or if the designated individual is unwilling or unable to serve, the court will appoint a personal representative.
2. Surviving Family Members
Certain surviving family members may also be eligible to receive damages from a wrongful death claim. This typically includes the deceased's spouse, children, and parents. It may also include any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is "partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services." [FL Stat § 768.18 (2019)].
3. Dependent Parties
In addition to close family members, anyone who can prove they were wholly or partially dependent on the deceased for support or services may be able to recover damages. This could include a live-in partner, a stepchild, or even a putative spouse.
4. Damages Recoverable
The types of damages recoverable in a wrongful death claim can vary significantly, but may include loss of support and services, loss of companionship and protection, mental pain and suffering, medical or funeral expenses, and loss of earnings of the deceased.
Navigating through a wrongful death claim in Florida can be a complex process. It's recommended to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to ensure all eligible parties are represented and the maximum possible compensation is sought.