In Florida and throughout the nation, deaths can be intentional or they can be completely accidental. So, intentional deaths would be criminal offenses, whereas accidental deaths would subject the wrongdoer to a civil lawsuit. Sometimes however, an accidental death, such as the case of a drunk driver taking someone else’s life, can be criminal in nature. In fact, if a drunk or drugged driver takes someone else’s life, he or she could face both criminal charges and a wrongful death lawsuit.
A “wrongful death” action arises in the case of an accidental death. Essentially, state laws were enacted all over the country to deter people from reckless and irresponsible behavior that could result in death. Under wrongful death laws, if someone “accidentally” kills another person, the at-fault party can face a civil lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits often arise under the following circumstances:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Drowning accidents
- Premises liability claims
- Acts of violence (on private or commercial property)
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
Florida’s Wrongful Death Laws
Under Florida law, wrongful death claims are brought on by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If a decedent dies without a will or trust in place, the court appoints a personal representative to handle the deceased person’s estate. Even though personal representatives are the ones to file wrongful death claims in Florida, they file these claims on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members.
Which family members can recover damages?
- The decedent’s spouse.
- The decedent’s children.
- The decedent’s parents.
- The decedent’s blood relatives or adopted sibling who were supported partially or fully by the decedent prior to their death.
Under Florida Statutes Section 95.11(4)(d), wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of death in most situations. Under very limited circumstances, the deadline or “statute of limitations” may be delayed.
To learn more about filing a wrongful death claim in West Palm Beach and the types of damages available, contact the Law Offices of Craig Goldenfarb, P.A. for a free consultation!