Who can file a wrongful death action in FLA loved one’s death can cause grief and upheaval across whole extended families, especially if the person was lost through someone else’s negligence.

Unfortunately, it's the person’s closest relatives who will feel the most pain and financial pressure as a result of an unexpected death.

While relatives may recover these losses through a wrongful death claim, only certain family members are eligible to bring the lawsuit and benefit from any awarded damages.

Only One Person Can File Your Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In the state of Florida, only the personal representative of the deceased person's estate may legally file the wrongful death claim. The personal representative may be chosen during a person's lifetime and named in a will or estate plan, or may be appointed after death if the deceased left no will or estate plan.

Although the wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the personal representative, any compensation from the claim is paid to the victim’s estate for the benefit of their survivors and dependents. When filing the claim, the personal representative must list every survivor who has an interest in the case and could legally claim a portion of the damages. As part of the deceased’s estate, any amount paid as legal damages is distributed according to Florida inheritance laws, ensuring that the closest family members are provided for in all matters.

Family Members Who Can Collect Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

In a wrongful death claim, family members eligible to recover damages are known as beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can claim compensation for a wide variety of personal injury damages resulting from a loved one's death, including:

  • Payment for any funeral and burial expenses paid for out-of-pocket
  • Expenses for medical treatment, such as surgeries and hospitalization, that a loved one incurred between the accident and their death
  • An award for the pain and suffering the victim experienced between the accident and death

Florida's wrongful death laws allow beneficiaries to collect compensation for a victim's losses, but also their own personal losses related to the loss of a loved one. These damages might include loss of future income and benefits, loss of household services, increased costs of becoming a single parent, and other expenses and financial consequences that directly result from the loved one’s unexpected death.

Only certain relatives are considered beneficiaries in a Florida wrongful death case, including the victim’s:

  • Spouse. The surviving spouse has the right to make a claim for the loss of comfort and companionship suffered as a result of the death, as well as compensation for the emotional trauma caused by the sudden loss of a partner.
  • Children. Children under the age of maturity may be awarded damages for the lost benefits provided by the deceased parent, such as protection, guidance, and emotional support.
  • Parents. If the victim was a minor, parents are eligible to recover damages for their lost relationship with the child, loss of future care and comfort, and emotional trauma stemming from the loss of a child.
  • Dependent family members. State law allows any blood relatives or adoptive brothers or sisters of the deceased to collect damages if they were partially or completely dependent on the victim for financial support or services.
  • Children of unmarried parents. Under Florida law, children born to unmarried parents are eligible for damages after their mother’s wrongful death. However, a child can only recover damages in an unmarried father’s wrongful death case if the father formally recognized the child as his own and had an obligation to support the child.

It's important to note that families have a limited period of time to file a lawsuit before the right to receive damages is lost forever.

If someone in your family was killed as a result of negligence, we will listen to your story and advise you on all options. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.


Paul R. Cavonis
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Injury Law and Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney