According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida had over 17,000 accidental deaths in 2021, the second-highest figure in the nation. If you lost a family member in death because of an accident from someone else’s carelessness or intentional negligence, you may be due compensation.
While a payout is no substitute for your loved one’s life, compensation can give you a sense of justice and help cover your expenses. However, you must be sure that you are the right person to file the claim according to Florida Statutes.
Only one person can bring the suit
The Florida Wrongful Death Act dictates that only one person can file a wrongful death lawsuit for a loved one as a personal representative. This person is usually a close family member like a spouse, child or parent of the person who passed away.
The reason for this statute is to make the legal process simpler. If many people could file the lawsuit, complications, confusion and disagreements could more easily arise.
This personal representative is the chosen person who represents the interests of all the family members who could potentially benefit from the lawsuit. Your deceased loved one may have designated this person in their estate plans. If not, the court determines this individual, often by selecting a close living relative.
Various extended family members can be beneficiaries
Though only one person files the suit, anyone who has a legitimate interest in the deceased’s estate can be a beneficiary. The personal representative notates and works on behalf of all of these parties.
Permissible claimants typically include the spouse, children, parents and blood relatives who wholly or partially depended on your deceased loved one for support or services. This extends to adoptive siblings and any blood relatives who were “equally close” to the deceased as a sibling.
In cases where the deceased individual had no immediate family members, distant relatives such as grandparents or grandchildren might have the right to pursue a wrongful death action. Importantly, the law stipulates that stepchildren may also have standing to file a claim if they can establish dependency on the deceased.
Understanding who has the legal right to file a wrongful death suit helps you navigate the legal aftermath of a tragic event. The state’s statutes can ensure that you have an appropriate avenue to seek compensation for the emotional and financial toll.