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What Qualifies as Wrongful Death in Florida?

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Posted By SalterHealy | May 19 2022 | Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one is incredibly challenging, particularly if they lost their life due to the negligent, intentional, or careless actions of someone else. Here, we want to examine what actually qualifies as a wrongful death in the state of Florida. Not every death that occurs is considered “wrongful,” even if the death is caused by another individual or entity. We want to examine what the statute says, and we strongly encourage you to contact an attorney if you think you have a valid wrongful death claim.

What Florida Law Says About Wrongful Death Claims

When we examine Florida law, we can see that a wrongful death claim can arise anytime a person or entity leads to the death of another due to the “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” (Fla. Stat. § 768.19 (2021)). 

We need to move past that single, rather confusing sentence in order to understand whether or not a wrongful death claim will be valid. Deaths can occur in a wide variety of ways, often not due to the actions of other individuals or entities. Wrongful death claims in Florida must specifically revolve around the negligence of another. This means that there will need to be a few elements in place in order for the claim to move forward.

  1. Duty. It must first be established that the defendant (the person alleged to have caused the death) owed some sort of duty of care to the deceased. This duty of care will look different depending on the situation at hand.
  2. Breach. After establishing that there was a duty of care, it must be shown that the defendant somehow breached the duty of care that they owed to the defendant.
  3. Causation. If a breach of duty did occur, it must be shown that the breach of duty directly caused the injury that led to the death.
  4. Damages. Finally, it must be shown that the plaintiff(s) suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the death. This can include the estate of the deceased and the surviving family members.

How do Wrongful Death Claims Arise?

Wrongful death claims can arise in a wide variety of ways in the state of Florida. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Car accidents
  • Commercial truck accidents 
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Premises liability incidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective product incidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Intentional acts of violence

If you have lost a loved one due to the careless or negligent actions of another, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can examine the facts of your case and help determine whether or not your claim is valid and assist you with the next steps moving forward.

Time Limit for Filing a Florida Wrongful Death Case 

It is important to understand that there is a limited amount of time to file these claims in court. The Florida wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. If a claim is not filed by the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate, it is likely that it will be dismissed. If this occurs, the estate and the survivors will not be able to recover compensation for their losses. The exception to this is a claim filed after a death due to murder or manslaughter. In these situations, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed at any time.

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