Yes, family can sue for wrongful death. Every state carries its own set of laws pertaining to wrongful death claims. The legal procedures for these types of cases vary from state to state. In the state of Florida, the Wrongful Death Act outlines who may file wrongful death lawsuits.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
While the laws for wrongful death lawsuits vary for each state, every state does allow a wrongful death claim to be filed by a member of the immediate family. Most often, a decedent’s surviving spouse will bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases where no surviving spouse exists, an adult child can bring forth the lawsuit. If the person who died was a minor child, the parents of the child typically file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Some states allow a domestic partner or civil union to file the lawsuit on behalf of their partner. In cases of an unmarried, adult decedent, many states allow more distant family members, such as siblings, grandparents, or an aunt or uncle, to file a wrongful death claim.
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Limits to Number of Claims Filed by a Family
Sometimes a dispute among family members will arise over who will be the one to file a wrongful death suit. These issues may cause more than one claim to be filed on behalf of the decedent. However, most courts will only allow one wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. If families file more than one wrongful death claim for the same individual, the court will often consolidate all of the claims into one lawsuit.
When the Decedent Left a Will
When it comes to determining the right of individuals to file wrongful death lawsuits, a lot can depend on whether or not the decedent left a will. If the person who died established a will, the court will typically appoint a personal representative or executor to administer their estate. In most states, only the personal representative or executor of the will can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.
In cases where a will exists, the filing of wrongful death claims can turn more complicated. If the person the deceased named as executor is not an immediate family member, a member of the immediate family may still have the right to file a wrongful death claim. However, in these cases, a family member may sometimes file a lawsuit against the executor of the will in order to obtain the right to file a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf.
Going to Court
When a dispute arises over a will or any item in the deceased’s estate, the dispute may need to go before the court. Some estates may end up in probate for a very long time if the parties cannot come to an agreement over the items in the will. When this occurs, the wrongful death suit may suffer due to the time restrictions on when family may file wrongful death claims after a person’s death.
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Timeframe for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Identifying which family member has the right to file a wrongful death claim must happen quickly because every state upholds statutes of limitations. This statute places time limits on how long you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The length of time to file this type of lawsuit varies by state, with none having a time frame shorter than one year. In most cases, the “clock” starts running at the time of the person’s death, with some exceptions. Courts may grant extensions if the reason or possible negligence that caused the person’s death was not revealed until a later date.
Seeking Legal Help
If your loved one has passed away, and you believe it resulted from the negligence of a company or person, consider seeking legal advice on how to pursue a wrongful death case.
A legal professional will understand the laws surrounding these types of cases and can guide toward taking the proper course of action. Our team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC can discuss your wrongful death lawsuit with you during a free phone consultation. Contact us at 800-593-3443 to get started right away.