When you lose a loved one, the consequences may be devastating both emotionally and financially. The situation might be especially hard to deal with when the loss was untimely and potentially caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another person. In these types of scenarios, families often want answers but may not be sure how to proceed without a St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer.
An experienced personal injury attorney’s guidance could investigate the circumstances of a death and determine whether a wrongful death action may be the right course of action. A lawsuit cannot bring back a loved one, but it may help provide assistance to make up for lost support and services.
Types of Damages Available
Florida’s wrongful death statutes are intended to ease a situation where a family is bearing a loss by shifting the burden to the party whose wrongdoing caused the loss, as emphasized in Florida Statutes §768.17. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members who relied on the deceased person for support may be entitled to monetary damages to compensate for a variety of factors, including:
- The value of financial support provided by the deceased
- The value of services provided by the deceased
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of instruction and guidance
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost earnings
The relationship between the deceased person and the survivor filing suit on their behalf plays a key role in determining the type of compensation that survivor may receive. Some types of compensation may be recoverable only for the “estate” of the deceased person.
An estate is the collection of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. After a death, the estate could be managed for a time to clear up outstanding debts, and then the remainder may be distributed according to a will or the division of property defined by law. A wrongful death attorney in St. Petersburg could help clarify how this process might play out in an individual plaintiff’s case.
Who Could File a Suit
The statutory wrongful death provisions in Florida specify that any such lawsuit must be brought by a personal representative of the estate who works for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving family. As per Fla. Stat. §768.18, survivors eligible to receive compensation after a wrongful death include spouses, children, parents, and blood relatives or adopted brothers and sisters who relied on the deceased person for services or financial support.
While all survivors may seek damages for lost support, only certain family members are entitled to recover damages for mental pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other specific intangible consequences. The parties entitled to those types of damages may vary depending on the circumstances, such as whether the deceased was survived by a spouse or left minor children behind.
Time Limit to File a Claim
The Florida statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim is two years in most circumstances. Claims not filed within two years of the date of death may be time-barred, and filing family members may, as a result, be unable to recover compensation.
If retained by a deceased person’s surviving family, a St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer could help ensure that no such deadlines are missed. It may be important for families considering a wrongful death lawsuit to take prompt action not only because of the statute of limitations but also because it may be easier to collect and preserve evidence close to the time of the incident that caused the death.
Work with a St. Petersburg Wrongful Death Attorney
While most people may not like to think of legal matters during a time of mourning, a wrongful death claim could make the future easier to handle for family members who relied on the deceased for support of any kind. If a family member has suffered a death you believe may have been due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, contact a dedicated St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer to learn your options.