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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

As a rule, blood relatives can file suit for a wrongful death. However, each state has specific rules that may expand or limit the right of survivors to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

In the State of Florida, the issue of who may file a wrongful death claim is set forth in the Florida Wrongful Death Act portion of the state statutes. Although the award of a wrongful death suit is given to the deceased’s spouse, children or parents, these relatives are not automatically entitled to file a wrongful death claim.

A personal representative of the deceased must initiate the wrongful death proceedings. The personal representative of the deceased is named in a Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament. If a Will is not available, the issue of who can file a wrongful death suit becomes more complicated.

The courts usually offer first right of this duty to the surviving spouse. If the spouse is unable to perform the duties of a personal representative, or the deceased was not married, the personal representative is decided by majority vote among the deceased’s heirs. Should this option not be possible, the court will appoint a personal representative.

Once a personal representative has been named, that person may file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the other beneficiaries. Since probate issues are involved and can be quite complex, engaging the services of a wrongful death attorney well versed in probate law is strongly recommended in order to protect the interests of the beneficiaries and to honor the deceased’s final wishes.

Florida’s statute of limitations for filing wrongful death lawsuits is two years, and the delayed discovery rule that applies to some negligence and personal injury claims does not apply. This may create difficulties when the deceased died without a Will, and finding a personal representative takes more time than normal.

If you are the personal representative of a recently deceased friend or family member whose death may be the result of negligence or reckless action, please contact the Florida law offices of James O. Cunningham and schedule an initial interview.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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Florida Personal Injury Office Locations

Main Office

Orlando Personal Injury Office:
3117 Edgewater Dr.
Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: 407-425-2000
Toll Free: 877-FL-INJURY
                 (877-354-6587)
Fax: 407-843-8274

Seminole County

Lake Mary Office:
1001 Heathrow Park Lane
Suite 4001
Lake Mary, FL 32746
Phone: 407-487-4408

Osceola County

Kissimmee Office:
17 S. Orlando Ave.
Kissimmee, FL 34741
Phone: 407-966-4408

Volusia County

Daytona Beach Office:
1301 Beville Rd., Suite 8
Daytona Beach, FL 32119
Phone: 386-243-4994

DeBary Office:
465 Summerhaven Drive, Suite C
DeBary, FL 32713
Phone: 386-320-3911

Deland Office:
Downtown Executive Center
120 South Woodland Blvd.
Deland, FL 32720
Phone: 386-206-1264

Citrus County

Inverness Office:
110 North Apopka Ave.
Inverness, FL 34453
Phone: 352-205-4341

Polk County

Lakeland Office:
1102 S. Florida Ave., Suite 104
Lakeland, FL 33803
Phone: 863-968-7551

Winter Haven Office:
325 Avenue A, N.W.
Winter Haven, FL 33881
Phone: 863-968-7173

Hillsborough County

Tampa Office:
100 S. Edison St. Suite D
Tampa, FL 33606
Phone: 813-355-9772

Marion-Sumter Counties

The Villages Office:
3420 U.S. Hwy. 27/441
Fruitland Park, FL 34731
Phone: 352-419-0825

Lake County

Mt. Dora Office:
602 East 5th Ave.
Mt. Dora, FL 32757
Phone: 352-436-4696

Clermont Office:
900 W. Highway 50
Clermont, FL 34711
Phone: 352-503-4674

Brevard County

Titusville Office:
506 S. Palm Ave.
Titusville, FL 32780
Phone: 321-222-7300

Cocoa Office:
96 Willard Street
Suite 206,
Cocoa, FL 32922
Phone: 321-757-1373