Common Questions About Florida Law
It is natural to have many questions and worries when faced with a legal issue or litigation. The experienced lawyers at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., ask many common legal questions and provide useful answers to help get you in making the best decisions for you and your family.
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What's the difference between a Medicaid specialist and an elder law attorney?
Medicaid can be a lifesaver when it comes to paying for nursing home care. Unfortunately, the various requirements for the program can be extremely confusing, and you may need help with the application process. Elder lawyers and Medicaid specialists can both help you apply for Medicaid, and the right one for you will depend on your specific circumstances.
What Do Medicaid Specialists and Elder Law Attorneys Do?
First, let's talk about Medicaid specialists. These can be individuals or whole firms that specialize in Medicaid eligibility and application. For a fee, they can gather the documents you need to apply, submit your application, and follow up with you as the application moves through the system.
However, Medicaid specialists are not lawyers. They don't help with the many issues that usually arise along with the need for Medicaid, and can't offer legal advice if something goes wrong.
An elder law attorney does all of the above, plus:
- Protects healthy spouses. If your loved one is married, but their spouse does not require long-term care, the spouse's assets may be counted against Medicaid eligibility. An elder law attorney can protect spousal income and assets over the Medicaid limit and ensure a spouse can continue living in the family home.
- Helps your relative create an estate plan. Without an attorney's help, families may spend their loved one's life savings on care—but it doesn't have to be this way. An elder attorney who practices estate planning can set up trusts and other structures to ensure that there's something to pass on to heirs.
- Performs incapacity planning. Attorneys can create an enforceable plan using durable powers of attorney and designation of healthcare surrogates if your loved one becomes unable to make decisions on their own.
- Helps you through life care planning. There are invaluable legal services related to aging, such as choosing the facility that will preserve your loved one's dignity and independence, securing in-home care, preventing elder abuse, and ensuring the best care for the best price.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, our goal is to help your whole family through the most difficult times in their lives. We have completed thousands of Medicaid applications while protecing our clients and protecting assets. If you need help qualifying or applying for Medicaid, simply fill out our quick contact form or call us at (727) 777-6842 to set up a consultation.
What does trust reformation mean?
Sometimes, a person's trust document may have provisions that are not in line with the creator's true intent. Trust reformation is the process of legally modifying a revocable or irrevocable trust to reflect the creator's wishes. If the settlor (the person who created the trust) is still living, they may be able to amend the trust without reformation. If the settlor is deceased, reformations may require agreements among beneficiaries or court proceedings.
Provisions That Can Be Changed Through Trust Reformation in Florida
Under the Florida Trust Code, a trust can be reformed to correct a mistake by the settlor even if the plain language of the trust is unambiguous. In simple terms, the document says something contradictory to what the settlor would have wanted. To reform a trust, you will need to provide clear and convincing evidence of the settlor's original intent.
Reformation may be used to correct many types of errors in a trust document, including:
- Mistakes of law. A trust may need to be modified to reflect any changes in state or federal inheritance and tax laws.
- Mistakes of fact. Reformation may be needed if the trust document was not updated after the birth or death of family members, changes in the settlor's or family's financial condition, or revisions in the settlor's personal beliefs.
- Drafting and printing errors. Florida does allow reformation to correct printing, signing, or drafting errors in an otherwise valid trust. However, it can't be used to correct an invalid trust document if the proposed changes would make the trust valid.
Trust reformation has its limits. For instance, it can be difficult or impossible ot make any modifications that are contrary to the interest of the settlor. In addition, reformation may not make it easier to make additional changes to the trust terms in the future.
The estate litigation attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can meet with you to discuss your legal concerns and help you fight for what you deserve. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
When should I consider getting guardianship over my elderly parent?
Most people who come to us to establish guardianship have already taken on the duties of caring for an ailing loved one. You may be cooking their meals, running them to hospital visits, or picking up their mail and paying bills on their behalf. However, there is a limit to how much you can legally do for your parent without the proper authority—and it is generally best to get this authority sooner rather than later.
Warning Signs That You May Need Guardianship Over an Elderly Relative
The choice to get legal control of a parent’s affairs can be unsettling, and can lead to family disagreements that push the decision, and the elder's safety, down the road. Unfortunately, putting off guardianship proceedings may force emergency action when your parent hits a crisis point, adding to your stress and discomfort in an already difficult time.
There are a few ways to tell if it’s time to start the guardianship process. For example, you may need legal help if there is a threat to your parent’s:
- Safety. Guardianship can help if a parent is suffering from a medical condition that often results in long-term decline (such as dementia, cancer, or organ failure) and he or she does not realize that they are unable to make the correct health care decisions.
- Life savings. The elderly are often targeted by scammers, caretakers, and even relatives looking to profit from their vulnerability. If you have seen strange transactions in your parent’s accounts or fear that someone is trying to gain access to their money, you should speak to us about guardianship.
- Health and well-being. If your parent has not appointed someone to act as the health care surrogate and the family does not get along, you will need guardianship to make decisions about their healthcare, housing, and long-term care. Under Florida law, if the elder has not created a health care surrogate, then the family would generally make decisions as the elder's health care proxy. But if the family does not get along and they do not agree on the health care decisions to be made, it is likely that a guardianship attorney would be necessary.
- Lack of Pre-Planning. Guardianships can often, but not always, be avoided through the proper estate planning. If your loved one has not created a durable power of attorney, for instance, and then loses capacity, then a guardianship will be needed to handle his or her affairs.
Lack of Capacity Standards for Guardianships
When a guardianship is sought, the court generally needs to find that the alleged incapacitated person lacks capacity. Here, an “incapacitated person” means a person who has been judicially determined to lack the capacity to manage at least some of the property or to meet at least some of the essential health and safety requirements of the person. Further,
- To “manage property” means to take those actions necessary to obtain, administer, and dispose of real and personal property, intangible property, business property, benefits, and income.
- To “meet essential requirements for health or safety” means to take those actions necessary to provide the health care, food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene, or other care without which serious and imminent physical injury or illness is more likely than not to occur.
We understand that seeking a guardianship is a hard decision—and while we cannot change the past, the attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can take it from here. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
When does a family member have grounds for contesting a will?
In Florida, there are only a handful of legal reasons for contesting a will. If the will was created voluntarily by a person of sound mind and in accordance with state law, you may not have any legal basis for challenging it.
However, if you do have a valid claim, you should know that only certain parties can challenge the terms of a last will and testament in court.
Who Can Contest a Will in Florida?
In the Sunshine State, people who can challenge the terms of a will include:
- Heirs-at-law. Heirs-at-law are close relatives that would have received a share of the estate if the decedent had died intestate (without a will). Under Florida intestacy laws, surviving spouses inherit first, then children, then grandchildren, then parents, then other descendants. As an example, let’s say Grandpa left a will that provides for his wife, children, and two grandchildren. The problem is, Grandpa had three grandchildren. This could mean that the will wasn’t updated to include Grandchild #3, or that Grandpa had his reasons for disinheriting her. If Grandchild #3 brings a claim, she has to prove that Grandpa didn't intentionally mean to cut her out of the will, or that will isn't valid for some other reason.
- Beneficiaries. Anyone named in the current or previous versions of a will may have legal standing to make a claim. For example, an adult child may contest a parent’s will if they were named as executor in a prior will, but was replaced by someone else in the current version.
- Guardians of interested minors. While minors typically cannot contest a will because they're not old enough to bring legal proceedings, a disinherited minor’s parent or legal guardian may be able to challenge the will on the child's behalf.
As the person bringing forth the will contest, you have the burden of proof in the case. This can be difficult, especially if you don't have explicit medical proof of incompetence or other evidence of fraud. We can help you gather evidence to establish that the will isn't valid, allowing you to collect what's rightfully yours.
The estate litigation attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can meet with you to discuss your legal concerns and help fight for what you deserve. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
What is trust litigation?
Trust litigation occurs when there are disputes about the distribution or handling of a deceased person’s assets. Just as probate litigation involves challenging the terms of a will, trust litigation involves challenging the terms of a trust. You may be named in an estate litigation lawsuit if you're one of the beneficiaries of the trust, or if you're a trustee accused of mismanagement.
When Is Trust Litigation Necessary?
Ideally, a trust should be formed with the help of an estate planning attorney to ensure that instructions are clear and there are no errors or oversights that could lead to lawsuits. However, legal problems can still arise if heirs disagree on the terms of a trust.
You may need to hire us as your trust litigation attorneys if:
- There are assets missing from the trust. Trustees have a duty to follow the directions laid out in the trust, and to act only in the best interests of the trust or its beneficiaries. If you suspect a trustee has been stealing or mismanaging trust assets, they can be compelled to provide accounting information to the beneficiaries or be considered in breach of the trust.
- You were unexpectedly disinherited. Although some heirs are intentionally left out of a trust, there are cases where disinheritance should be challenged. For example, if the deceased promised that you would inherit and the trust was recently amended, we can help you investigate the matter and press your claim.
- You suspect fraud or criminal activity. If someone coerced the creator of the trust to change the terms in their favor, you may have a case of financial elder abuse. If any documents were forged, the trustee could face both civil and criminal charges.
The attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can meet with you to discuss your legal concerns and help fight for what you deserve. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
What is voluntary guardianship in Florida?
Most people who come to us to establish guardianship are relatives of a loved one who is incapacitated. However, some family members realize that they're incapable of handling certain financial matters on their own, and wish to surrender control of their affairs willingly. If you're unable to manage your finances, Florida law allows you to seek voluntary guardianship over property and assets.
Benefits of Voluntary Guardianship in Florida
The greatest benefit of guardianship is that it helps to protect your assets from those who would take advantage of you if you suffer an illness, are diagnosed with dementia, or have a progressive health condition that prevents you from making your own financial decisions.
There are other advantages to voluntary guardianship of property, including:
- Choosing your guardian. People suffering from illness may not recognize their inability to handle their affairs until it’s too late, forcing their families to step in and begin guardianship proceedings. A voluntary guardianship gives you the ability to choose who will serve as your guardian now, instead of taking a chance that a relative you might not trust will seek guardianship later.
- Setting your own limits. Taking action now allows you to control how much of your property is handled by your guardian. You may give your guardian authority to manage specific assets, such as stocks, or the entirety of an estate, and can choose how long the voluntary guardianship remains in effect.
- Protection of the courts. If you simply hand over control of your finances to a family member, there are no restrictions in place to prevent them from using your assets for their own gain. Voluntary guardianship is supervised by the courts, so your chosen guardian will be legally required to manage your affairs in a way that benefits you and your estate.
You should know that the state of Florida only recognizes voluntary guardianship over property. A voluntary guardian won't be able to make medical decisions on your behalf nor choose where you'll live. If you wish to give your guardian medical authority, you should consider including a durable power of attorney as part of your estate plan.
When would you want a Voluntary Guardianship?
Most estate planning is done to avoid any type of guardianships, but there are times when estate planning alone cannot stop people from hurting themselves. Here is an example of when we would think a voluntary guardianship would be helpful:
Mom, age 84, is getting forgetful but is still legally competent. She has a trustworthy daughter who lives locally but she also has a difficult son with "spending problems" who shows up to beg his mother for money. Mom is just not able to say "no" to lending (or giving!) her son money. The son has even taken mom to see an attorney to try and become her power of attorney. While mom is competent, placing her assets under a voluntary guardianship may be the best way to make sure mom cannot take her own money and just give it to her son.
Alternatives to a Voluntary Guardianship
While every situation is different, it is possible that a good estate plan can prevent a guardianship, such as through creating a revocable living trust and naming a trusted person as the trustee. But this has limitations if, for instance, the elder is subject to bad influences from close family members, as an example.
We Can Help
The attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can meet with you, listen to your concerns and help discuss options to make sure you or your loved one is protected. We can help establish voluntary guardianship if necessary, and ensure that your wishes will be followed. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
How Can I Stop My Loved One From Writing Checks?
We frequently receive questions regarding children trying to help when their parents going starting with dementia or Alzheimer's. The question is frequently something like:
I have durable power of attorney for my mother, but she keeps writing checks and making poor financial decisions when I’m not around. What do I do?
We have seen situations like this many times - Mom or Dad is getting forgetful, some type of dementia, and is not spending her money well. He or she may be writing checks to charities, scammers, needy family members, etc.
So, while durable powers of attorney are an important part of a well-rounded estate planning, they do have one major shortcoming: A durable power of attorney appoints an agent to act on behalf of the Principal (e.g., Mom or Dad), but it does NOT stop the Principal from still conducting business on his or her own. We frequently say that a durable power of attorney is a delegation of your rights, but it does not actually take away your rights.
The big picture is that a durable power of attorney is not really enough to stop someone with dementia from being taken advantage of. The power of attorney cannot stop mom/dad from writing checks/paying bills. There are some things that can help in these difficult situations:
Set Up a Revocable Living Trust
If Mom or Dad does not already have a revocable living trust, then the durable power of attorney may allow the child to set up and fund a revocable living trust in order to help Mom or Dad. Florida law says that a durable power of attorney executed after October 1, 2011, must specifically be initialled to allow the power of attorney to execute a living trust on mom/dad's behalf. Assuming this power is available, as power of attorney, the child may be able to transfer the parent’s assets into the trust and then manage the trust as trustee. Only a trustee can conduct business on behalf of a trust, therefore, the parent would not be able to write checks or conduct financial transactions for any assets that are in the trust.
Of course, we strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney regarding this option and whether the child is legally authorized to establish a trust on your parent’s behalf.
The next step may be to consider an adult guardianship proceeding. A guardianship proceeding will include an incompetency hearing. If the court finds your parent to be incompetent, the clerk of court will issue an order of such finding and will appoint a guardian to manage your parent’s affairs. You can then give copies of the court order to all banks and financial institutions where your parent holds accounts to notify the bank or financial institution that your parent has been declared incompetent by the court and no longer has legal authority to conduct transactions on his or her own behalf.
We typically recommend guardianships as a last resort only - if Mom/Dad is highly functioning (i.e., can go to the bank themselves and refuse to give up the car keys/check book), is not recognizing their own dementia, for instance, or if they are subject to elder exploitation. Florida also has an elder exploitation injunction that can help people when they are being exploited.
We Can Help!
You may be struggling to help your loved one make the right decisions, hitting roadblocks, looking for Medicaid, waitlists in trying to get your loved one placed in an appropriate facility, or constantly fighting with doctors, hospitals (or even other family members) because you don’t have the necessary legal or financial authority to oversee your loved one’s affairs and/or care.
Solid legal and financial planning is your answer and can help you put an end to all of the confusion and overwhelm that you currently face.
If you read this, you may want to read:
- How Your Estate Plan can help prevent elder exploitation
- When Durable Powers of Attorney Cannot Prevent a Guardianship in Florida
- Emergency Temporary Guardianships in Florida
What should I say to an insurance adjuster after an accident?
I recommend that victims never talk to an at-fault driver’s insurance company, no matter how much an adjuster calls you or attempts to contact you. However, it may be necessary to coordinate with your own insurance provider after a car accident to make repairs to your vehicle. Although your insurer should be working for you, you must still be careful what information you provide.
Keep This in Mind When Talking to Your Insurance Representative
Your insurance adjuster conducts a comprehensive review of the accident and works with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to settle any claims. It's still in your insurer’s best interest to pay as little as possible, and any mistakes you make after a crash can give it a reason to reduce your payment.
When it comes to dealing with your own insurance agent, you should:
- File a claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company as soon as possible following a car accident. Most companies have a dedicated claims hotline where policyholders can report accidents day or night. Your insurance representative should explain your coverage and ask for a few basic details, such as the location of the accident and the name and insurance provider of the other driver.
- Discuss vehicle repairs only. Your own insurer handles the property damage portion of your claim. This can include towing your vehicle, finding a body shop nearby, providing you with a rental car, and making satisfactory repairs—or replacing the vehicle if it's a total loss.
- Don’t talk about your injuries. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, your auto insurance provider becomes liable for your injury damages if the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your medical costs.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we secure the rightful compensation you need to put a car accident behind you—and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. If you have any questions, please fill out the form on this page, and a member of our injury team will get back to you immediately. And of course, you can always call our office at 727-777-6842.
If I have a good estate plan, can I avoid a guardianship proceeding altogether?
For the most part, yes. But as is always the case, the answer is “it depends.” As in cases where an estate plan is not updated to adjust to changing life circumstances. An estate plan is never a “set it and forget it” type of thing. Here is one example:
A married couple in their sixties, nearing retirement, with one adult daughter makes an estate plan. As part of the estate plan, the couple appoint each other the agent on their respective Powers of Attorney, and their adult daughter as the only successor agent.
In the ensuing years, their daughter predeceases each of them. Many years later, now in their 80s, the husband becomes incapacitated, and while serving as the husband’s agent under the Power of Attorney, the wife (the “caretaker spouse”) dies. In this tragic, but not uncommon example, the last to survive is incapacitated, with nobody authorized to manage his affairs through the Power of Attorney. A guardianship will need to be created to manage the health and finances of the surviving husband.
Importantly, it should be noted that even this example could have been avoided if the couple simply updated their Power of Attorney at the death of their daughter by adding one (or two) successors (i.e. grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc.). The takeaway being that an estate plan needs to be revisited by everyone in order to account for the various changes in circumstances life brings.
Further, one of the key ways to avoid a guardianship is by creating a durable power of attorney. This document allows the person of your choice the ability to make your legal and financial decisisons. Here, you can read about how a good durable power of attorney has its own limitations in preventing a guardianship.
Another key aspect of estate planning involves elder exploitation. Here, you can learn about how a good estate plan can help prevent elder exploitation.
If you need help updating your estate plan, elder exploitation or have questions about guardianship for your loved one, please do not hesitate to contact us.
How Is the Probate Estate Closed?
Once all assets have been gathered, inventoried, the 90 day creditor’s period has run, and payment of claims, if any, have been made, the estate can usually start making the distribution of assets. Interested parties are provided a Petition for Discharge, setting forth the personal representative’s fee, attorney’s fees, estimated final costs, and an accounting of all of the estate’s income and expenditures. As all of the assets will be known at this point, the beneficiaries will receive the amount of their inheritance.
If all beneficiaries agree to the Petition for Discharge, the estate can be finalized quickly. Assets can then be distributed to the beneficiaries, costs paid, etc. In the event of problems, the beneficiaries have 30 days in order to make objection to the Petition for Discharge. If an objection is filed by a beneficiary, the probate court may require a hearing on the objection’s validity.
As previously discussed, the full probate process takes about 6-7 months from start to finish under most circumstances.
What Will I Need to Start the Probate Process?
After reviewing the decedent’s assets, the family will generally determine that they need a probate attorney to get things started. Sometimes a financial institution such as a bank or insurance company will inform the family that they need “letters from the court” or something to this affect. Before seeing an attorney, the family will generally want/need the following information:
- Original Last Will and Testament (if one exists)
- If the original cannot be found, the attorney will have a way of "proving" the copy
- At least original death certificate – short form (2 if real property is involved)
- Preliminary list of decedent’s probate assets
- Names and address of all persons named in the last will and testament, if known, or name/address of intestate beneficiaries
Once the probate attorney is hired, a petition for administration is sent to the court. If all works well, the court then issues letters of administration, which allows the personal representative the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
The process mentioned is for a formal probate administration. If the estate is simple and worth less than $75,000, then a summary administration may be available, although the documentation needed for a formal probate is the same as that of a summary.
- Original Last Will and Testament (if one exists)
How Do I Find The Right Probate Attorney?
You should first start by gathering the names of potential attorneys. If you know any attorneys in the area, that is a good place to start. The attorney you know may practice in probate or may be close to an attorney who does. You can also use the internet to find an attorney. Do not type in “probate attorneys” as this will call up a million results. Rather, type in “probate attorney in ___ [your town] Florida.”
Look for lawyers who practice primarily in probate and estate planning. A lawyer who specializes is better than a “jack of all trades” type of firm or lawyer. Today, the law is more complex than ever and you need an attorney who stays on top of his or her primary field. When you meet with the prospective attorney, be prepared to ask the following questions:
- What are their primary areas of practice?
- How many probate cases have you handled?
- Would your past probate clients recommend you?
- How many continuing legal education conferences to you attend each year?
- Do you have experienced paralegals who will help you?
- What are your fees and how do you calculate them?
- Do they bill by the hour or will they use a flat fee?
Of course, you should be comfortable with the attorney you hire, have a good rapport, and feel that you can go to them in the event problems arise.
Will my case go to trial?
Of the thousands of cases I've handled, a relatively small number have gone to a jury trial. In fact, only a few cases require us to actually file a lawsuit, and a lesser percentage of those will actually go to court. This is because we are able to negotiate good settlements for most of our clients before they get to court.
While the vast majority of personal injury cases never need to see the inside of a courtroom, it's critical that every single case be prepared as if you're going to trial.
Most Insurers Want to Avoid an Injury Trial
Most injury victims seek compensation from an at-fault person’s insurance company. Insurers stay in business by paying out as little as possible, and settlements are often much cheaper than jury verdicts.
Our thorough preparation is a key negotiating tool, giving insurers an extra incentive to pay a fair value on a claim.
Insurance companies will usually avoid trial if possible because:
- It’s expensive. A trial can require hiring experts, tracking down evidence, and costly court appearances, all for an unknown outcome. Insurers want to manage risk as well as costs, and will often choose to settle a demand quickly rather than go through an open-ended and unpredictable trial.
- They’re more likely to be seen as the “bad guys.” If the victim is a good witness, the jury may have a lot of sympathy, costing the insurance company more in damages—and potentially even more than that in pain and suffering.
- It can hurt business. Jury verdicts can be considered public records, meaning anyone can look up whether the insurance company has been named in a lawsuit and how much it was ordered to pay. Settlements have the potential to be secured privately, allowing the insurer to protect its reputation.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we secure the rightful compensation you need to put your accident behind you—and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. If you have any questions, please fill out the form on this page, and a member from our injury team will get back to you immediately. And of course, you can always call our office at (727) 397-5571.
What does it mean when an attorney is “board certified?"
Board certification is a mark of the highest quality of legal services in a particular field. Only seven percent of eligible Florida attorneys have earned board certification in a specialty area, making us extremely fortunate to have two board certified attorneys in our law offices: Board Certified Elder Law Attorney D. "Rep" DeLoach III and Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney Paul R. Cavonis.
Benefits of Hiring a Board Certified Attorney
The certification program is approved by the Florida Supreme Court and administered with rigorous requirements by the Florida Bar. The Florida Bar evaluates all certified lawyers for expertise in a particular area of law, as well as professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.
Certification is the highest level of evaluation by the Florida Bar, and clients who hire certified lawyers should expect:
- Experience. Board certified lawyers must have a minimum of five years practicing law.
- Focus. Certified lawyers received passing grades on comprehensive examinations for their specialty areas; or met strict criteria of knowledge, skills, and expertise to exempt them from the exams. They're also heavily and actively involved in their fields of law.
- Continuing education. In order to maintain board certification, attorneys must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses in their specialty fields. Attorneys must have their certification renewed every five years by meeting education and experience requirements similar to those of initial certification.
- Good standing among peers. Certified lawyers are recognized by their fellow attorneys as having the highest level of competence in their specialty fields. The required peer review assessment also involves opinions on the character, ethics, and professionalism of the certified attorney.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we're dedicated to helping our clients through the most difficult times in their lives. To find out how we can help, simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida?
It's understandable that a wrongful death claim isn't at the forefront of your mind in the aftermath of a sudden loss. Family members may take weeks or even months to consider filing a lawsuit after the death of a relative simply because they're overwhelmed with grief and practical matters.
Fortunately, the law takes this into account by placing a reasonable time limit, called the statute of limitations, on the right of the family to sue for damages.
Florida Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Claims
In Florida, the statute of limitations on injury cases is four years from the date of the car accident, fall, or other incident that resulted in injury. However, in cases where someone’s negligence results in death, close family members have only two years from the date of death to file a claim for compensation.
It's rare for the two-year time limit to be extended, but it may be possible in a few specific situations:
- Cases against the government. If a government entity is responsible for the death, the case follows a different process with special filing procedures. The notification requirements must be completed within three years, and the statute of limitations is extended to four years.
- Murder. If the death resulted from homicide, the statute of limitations may not begin on the date of death, but on the date that the person responsible is identified or arrested.
- Medical malpractice. If the death resulted from medical negligence, relatives have two years from the date when the cause of death is discovered to file a claim, rather than the date of death.
As you can see, it's better to get advice from an experienced Florida injury attorney sooner rather than later. At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we secure the rightful compensation you need to put your accident behind you—and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.