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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Florida Wrongful Death Cases?

Losing a loved one is a traumatic event. However, when another party causes the death, there are additional legal matters to consider, such as suing the responsible party. Your time to file a lawsuit is also limited by state law.

A statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury claims, including wrongful death cases. If a party fails to file a lawsuit before time expires, the court can dismiss the case without considering whether there is a valid legal claim. The statute of limitations depends on the type of claim filed and other factors.

Why Do Statutes of Limitations Exist for Civil Cases?

It might seem as if a statute of limitations is unfair. If someone causes your loved one’s death, there should not be a time limit for you to pursue a claim. However, the law tries to balance the interest of the victim with legal fairness for the party being accused of wrongdoing.

Therefore, the law sets deadlines for filing wrongful death claims so that each side can access evidence. As time passes, evidence could be lost or destroyed. Without a statute of limitations, a defendant may not have access to evidence that could refute the plaintiff’s allegations.

Understanding the Florida Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Florida is typically two years. Generally, the time begins on the day the person dies, not on the date they were injured. However, there are some exceptions.

To name one example, in medical malpractice cases, the two-year deadline begins with the date the medical malpractice was discovered instead of the date of death. Regardless, the lawsuit must be filed no later than four years from the occurrence of malpractice.

Other exceptions could apply to your case. The best way to preserve your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after your loved one’s death. A Jacksonville wrongful death attorney can review your case and can advise you of the deadline to file a lawsuit during a free consultation.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?

If another party is responsible for your loved one’s death, the Florida Wrongful Death Act gives family members a cause of action to recover damages. The law allows the family to file a lawsuit against a party if:

  • The death of a person was caused by the negligence, wrongful act, breach of contract or warranty, or default of another person; and,
  • The event would have entitled the deceased to file a personal injury claim had they lived.

Because the victim is not alive to pursue a claim for damages, the law gives the right to sue for wrongful death to the deceased person’s estate. Therefore, the personal representative of your family member’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party who caused your loved one’s death. 

Typically, the personal representative is nominated in the person’s Will, or the court appoints a personal representative if the deceased does not have a Will.

Even though the estate files the lawsuit, the damages for a wrongful death lawsuit are for the benefit of the surviving family members. Generally, the person’s surviving spouse and children receive the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit. 

In some cases, the parents, other blood relatives, and household dependents of the deceased may receive proceeds from a wrongful death claim.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Jacksonville, FL

Many accidents and incidents can give rise to a wrongful death action in Jacksonville. Examples of reasons for a wrongful death lawsuit include, but are not limited to:

A legal claim may be the last thing you are thinking about after losing a loved one. However, because your time to file a wrongful death claim is limited, you want to act quickly to protect your right to seek justice for your loved one and your family.

What Damages Are Available for Family Members in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The legal system cannot bring back your loved one, and money does not ease your suffering. However, a monetary award for damages is the only remedy the court can offer. The damages compensate loved ones for:

  • Lost wages from the date of injury until the person died
  • Future lost wages the deceased would have earned had they lived
  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical bills from the injury date through the date of death
  • Value of lost services, guidance, and support
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental pain and anguish the deceased experienced before death

The amount you receive for a wrongful death claim depends on many factors. For example, your damages can be reduced if your loved one is partially to blame for the cause of their death.

If they were 20% at fault for the car crash that resulted in their death, the court can reduce your damages by that amount. However, Florida’s modified contributory fault law bars recovery of damages if the victim is more than 50% to blame for causing their death.

When Should I Call a Jacksonville Wrongful Death Lawyer?

If you suspect that another person caused your family member’s death, you should call a Jacksonville wrongful death attorney immediately. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner they can investigate your claim and gather evidence. Furthermore, your lawyer calculates the statute of limitations and monitors the deadline to ensure time does not run out to file a claim.

Call an attorney if you have questions about a wrongful death lawsuit in Jacksonville. A lawyer can help you hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions.

Contact the Jacksonville Wrongful Death Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help

For more information, please contact the Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra personal injury law firm of Baggett Law Wrongful Death Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve Duval County, St. Johns County, and its surrounding areas:

Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
(904) 396-1100

Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Downtown Jacksonville
121 W. Forsyth St. #170,
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 822-4225

Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Ponte Vedra
480 Town Plaza Ave #130,
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32081
(904) 675-1167

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