Statute of Limitations
According to Florida law, whenever an individual is killed by the wrongful conduct of another, the decedent’s heirs and/or other beneficiaries may file a wrongful death action against the person(s) responsible for the decedent’s death. However, Florida law places very strict and complicated restrictions on the time one has to file such a claim.
These restrictions, known as the Statute of Limitations, define the time within which you must file your Florida wrongful death claim. Failure to file the claim within this time period will result in the claim being barred.
Said simply, the statute of limitations for a Florida wrongful death action is two years from the date of death. However, things aren’t that simple. Florida’s statute of limitations as applied to wrongful death actions is rife with complex exceptions. To ensure your action complies with the rule and exceptions, it is best to have a Florida wrongful death attorney review the facts of your case to see what options you have.
The statute of limitations is highly influenced by the underlying claim that forms the basis of the wrongful death action. In other words, if the wrongful death is caused by a negligent act, then the statute of limitations for negligence applies. Thus, if the person dies within the statute of limitations for a negligence action, then the wrongful death action will be allowed within the statute of limitations for wrongful death. If this is not the case, then the wrongful death action could be barred.
Another exception is when the wrongful death occurred in a different state. In such cases, then the statute of limitations of that state will apply, even to an action filed in Florida. When a wrongful death claim is based on an act of medical malpractice, then the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims applies. According to Florida law, a claim for medical malpractice must be filed within two years from the time the incident is discovered – or should have been discovered – and no later than four years from the time of the incident.
Yet another exception is when the wrongful death action is filed against a state or governmental entity. According to Florida law, these actions have a four year statute of limitations – with some exceptions of course.
It is not uncommon that, after a wrongful death claim is filed, the defendant dies. According to Florida law, if the wrongdoer dies while a wrongful death action is pending, then the plaintiff must file a motion to substitute the personal representative of the estate of the wrongdoing deceased person for the original defendant within 90 days of when the death was recorded on the official public register. Failure to comply will bar your wrongful death claim indefinitely.
To ensure your Florida wrongful death claim satisfies all statute of limitations requirements, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A., at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.