A Florida woman was killed over the weekend while traveling on Interstate 95. The victim, who was a passenger in the car, died when the Ford Expedition she was riding in hit a wire guardrail, drove into an embankment and, becoming airborne, crashed into a tree. The vehicle was traveling northbound on Interstate 95 in mid-afternoon when, according to police reports, it left the right lane. The driver is reported to have suffered from minor injuries.
Although little is known as to the cause of the crash or the relationship between the driver and the deceased passenger, the surviving family of the passenger could have the legal right to seek compensation for their loss. Such a legal action in Florida is called a wrongful death suit.
A wrongful death claim can be brought when the negligence or wrongful act of party (in this case, the driver) causes the death of another person (i.e., the passenger). Florida’s wrongful death statute is found in Florida Statutes section 678.18. According to this statute, “when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract of another person or some other entity, the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit in Florida’s courts seeking a legal remedy for that death and the losses stemming from it”.
Florida law is somewhat unique in that it requires the estate of the deceased to file the lawsuit. However, one should not be confused by this requirement, as the personal representative of the estate files the suit on behalf of any surviving family members. That being said, Florida law does limit who qualifies as a ‘family member’ to:
- The deceased’s spouse, children and parents
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support and/or services
Thus, the key to being able to file a wrongful death suit is to demonstrate that one was dependent on the deceased for income or some other form of support.
As Florida wrongful death claims are complex, it is highly advised that you seek the advice of an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. today and schedule your free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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