skip to content
Home Frequently Asked Questions Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

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, P.A. 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.

Do I Have A Case?

padlock 100% Secure and Confidential

Martindale Hubbell | Highest Ethical standing
  • 5 StarsI would most definitely recommend James Cunningham for a Personal Injury Attorney

    We interviewed 3 different lawyers before we chose Mr. Cunningham. We are glad we did. I felt besides helping us with the needed funeral expenses for my father, he was honest, upfront, and of the highest ethics.

    - Jay, a Wrongful Death client
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • The Florida Bar Board Certified
  • NBLSC Board Certified Lawyers
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Lead Counsel Rated
  • Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb
  • The Florida Bar Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
  • Avvo Clients' Choice Personal Injury
  • Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb Top Attorney Personal Injury
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent High Ethical Standing
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • Super Lawyers
  • Florida Legal Elite

Client Testimonials

5 StarsGreat Service (auto accident)
After totalling my vehicle my father recommended I retain Mr. Cunningham. A little online research lead us to Mr. Cunningham who made this case an easy process and educational. I recommend Jim Cunningham. He is doing a great service. Tyrone, an Auto Accident Client

5 StarsOutstanding Attorney
I was in an automobile accident and didn't know where to turn. My son-in-law recommended James Cunningham and I am so happy I took his advice. James and his staff were very professional and compassionate in guiding me through a difficult time. I highly recommend him. Hilda, an Auto Accident Client

5 StarsExcellent Service
Mr Cunninghan was a consientious, competant attorney and very professional. His service was excellent and we would recommend him highly. Barbara his assistance was also excellent in her services to us both. Lawrence, a Car Accident client

Read Reviews

Request a free 30-minute case evaluation with attorney James O. Cunningham. Request Free Evaluation

Close Form

Receive a free case evaluation.

All submissions are personally reviewed by attorney James O. Cunningham within hours.

padlock 100% Secure and Confidential