Important Terms in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Accidents happen every day in Florida. Tragically, sometimes these accidents are so serious the accident victim does not survive them. Family members often wonder after these fatal accidents if they can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. To understand whether you have a valid wrongful death claim after losing a loved one, there are first some important terms to know.
Of course, before knowing whether you can file a lawsuit, you must understand what constitutes a wrongful death in Florida. Florida’s Wrongful Death Act defines wrongful death as a death that was the result of another person’s negligence. A wrongful death claim is essentially a personal injury claim the deceased could have filed on their own if they had survived the accident.
Reckless driving, medical malpractice, and slip and falls are just a few examples in which another person’s negligence, or carelessness, can cause a wrongful death. Murder, manslaughter, and assault and battery are examples in which someone’s intentional act could also result in a wrongful death. While these examples are part of criminal law with the perpetrator potentially facing charges in criminal court, they could also result in a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.
The Personal Representative
A personal representative is a term more common in probate law and elder law. However, personal representatives are very important in wrongful death claims, as well. A personal representative is named in someone’s will or estate plan. Only the personal representative can file a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident caused by someone else’s negligence. If the deceased had not named a personal representative in their estate plan prior to their death, the probate court will assign one.
Family members often become very concerned when they learn that only the personal representative can file a wrongful death claim after they have lost a loved one. Generally speaking, however, this concern is unwarranted.
While the personal representative is the only person that can file a wrongful death lawsuit, they are acting on behalf of the survivors. Florida law defines the survivors of a deceased individual as the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased. In certain cases, other blood relatives as well as adoptive sisters and brothers are also considered survivors as long as they were wholly or partly dependent on the deceased for services or support.
In regards to children specifically, a child of a mother born out of wedlock is considered a survivor. However, a child of a father born out of wedlock is not considered a survivor unless the father supported the child.
Anyone that is named as a survivor can receive a portion of the damages, or compensation, awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit even though they were not the ones to file the claim.
Our Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers are on Your Side
Wrongful death claims can never replace your loss, but they can help with the financial burden a death causes. However, the wrongful death laws in Florida are extremely complex. If you have lost someone due to another person’s negligence, our Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyers at Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. are here to help. Call us today at (772) 905-8692 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.