Every Florida legal action arising from the death of a person caused by the negligence of another person is guided by the “Florida Wrongful Death Act” (Sections 768.16-768.26), various other statutes, and case law. This blog touches on the considerations common to most Florida wrongful death actions.
- Statute of Limitations: Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 95.11(4)(d) an action for wrongful death must commence within two years of death. Section 95.11(4)(b) describes an exception for cases involving medical malpractice. (For a further discussion of this topic, read this blog: The Statute of Limitations (SOL) Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.)
- Court of Competent Jurisdiction: Most Florida wrongful death claims are brought in state circuit courts. Regarding venue, Florida Statue, 47.011 provides that “Actions shall be brought only in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action accrued…. This section shall not apply to actions against nonresidents.” If none of the defendants reside in or have a principal place of business in Florida, the action must be brought in federal court. This is known as diversity of jurisdiction.
- Parties to the Lawsuit (Plaintiff): Florida WD actions are prosecuted by court appointed personal representative(s) for the benefit of the decedent’s statutorily defined “survivors.” (Link to this blog, Florida Wrongful Death Survivors Chart, for detailed information on the subject of survivors.) The court appointed PR is often a survivor, such as an adult child or parent. Where a survivor is a minor or incompetent adult, the court may also appoint a