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Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller, P.A
 
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit? Florida’s Wrongful Death Act and what it means to you.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit? Florida’s Wrongful Death Act and what it means to you.

The time immediately after a family member has passed away as the result of someone elses negligence or malpractice is one of grief, and, in most instances, confusion. You may feel that your loved one died due to someone elses negligence, but are unsure of the circumstances surrounding his or her death. Perhaps you have heard about wrongful death in passing reference to the most extreme types of personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuits, but are wondering if you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your deceased family member. In these, and most other serious cases, it is important to quickly consult with a lawyer. Doing so can not only help your case legally, but can also help you concentrate on your family during this difficult time while your lawyer begins to prepare your claim, handles the Probate and keeps insurance company representatives from trying to contact you.

The state of Florida has outlined several parameters for wrongful death lawsuits in Florida Statutes 768.16-768.26, commonly referred to as the “Florida Wrongful Death Act.” The Act states that if the death of your family member has been caused by the wrongful act, negligence, or other improper act of another person or business, then that person or business can be held liable for the death of the person injured. The statute clarifies the responsible party shall be held liable for any damages incurred by the deceased as if death had not occurred—that is to say, for example, that if your relative was still alive and supporting his or her family were it not for the incident or accident.

Additionally, the statute outlines that the damages sought in the wrongful death case may be distributed to the survivors of the deceased, whom it defines as “the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives or adoptive brothers and sisters.” A wrongful death lawsuit could result in the recovery of monetary damages for the deceased’s immediate family, covering lost wages, funeral costs, medical expenses, and in some cases, punitive damages which are designed to punish the wrongdoer.

A frequently asked question in wrongful death cases is “Who has the legal authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit?” The law states that the action “shall be brought by the decedent’s personal representative.” Under Florida Probate law, for an individual to act as the personal representative, they must be a legal resident of the state of Florida or, if not a resident, they must be a blood relative of the decedent. The personal representative is typically designated in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. However, if no Will exists, then either the decedent’s surviving spouse, or if unmarried, the person who is nominated by a majority of the heirs or the heir in the nearest degree is generally appointed personal representative.

For any type of legal matter, and especially personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, it is critical to seek the counsel of an attorney as soon as possible to avoid making costly errors that could damage your case. At the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller, we understand the difficulties that you face at this time and will leave no stone unturned in helping you and your family get the recovery that you deserve. We accept personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you would owe us neither legal fees nor costs unless we recover money damages for you, thus there is no up front cost to you for us to investigate the case.

If your relative died as the result of someone else’s negligence, contact the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller for a free phone consultation at (866) 496-8752 or via email at Info@ForYourLaw.com

BY: Stephen K. Miller, Attorney at Law
May 29, 2012
 
 
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