The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Florida is generally two years, after which there is little the family can do to recover damages. That may seem like a long time, but these complicated civil lawsuits are difficult for most people to understand without the assistance of a wrongful death attorney, and those two years can pass quickly.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, many plaintiffs wonder how long Florida wrongful death cases really last, from the time of filing to the conclusion of the case. That’s a difficult question to answer, as each of these cases is unique. However, keep reading for general information on the typical timeline of wrongful death claims in Florida.
Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Florida Statutes section 768.19 states that a wrongful death claim may be filed when a victim’s death “is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract” of another party. In Florida, only the official representative of the victim’s estate can file this type of claim. However, this representative is filed on the behalf of surviving family members. Because this process can be complex and hard to parse, many families choose to work with a wrongful death attorney familiar with relevant Florida statutes.
How Long Do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Last in Florida?
The duration of any lawsuit is difficult to figure out and impossible to predict with precision, especially for wrongful death cases. It’s important that all state laws and available evidence is thoroughly inspected at the beginning of each lawsuit to ensure that you have a viable case to bring to court. For the majority of wrongful death cases, about 18 months to three years can be expected. That time may be shorter if the defendant chooses to settle outside of court, and much longer if the case goes before a judge in a courtroom. Likewise, if complicated issues are involved, such as multiple responsible parties, or if a significant amount of potential damages are involved, a lawsuit can take much, much longer.
Globally, about 1.2 million people die in car accidents every year, a common source of personal injury and wrongful death cases in the U.S. court system. The basis of liability in wrongful death suits ranges from legally straightforward auto accidents with one driver clearly at fault, to larger accidents with multiple people denying, sharing, and/or fighting over liability. In addition, there are even more complex issues surrounding medical malpractice within the medical sector.
Are There Any Exceptions To the Statute of Limitations in Florida?
In general, these cases must be filed within two years of the date of death in Florida, although there are rare exceptions. In some cases, the cause of death is not discovered until the statute of limitations has already passed. For instance, Florida Statutes section 95.11 states that:
An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence; however, in no event shall the action be commenced later than 4 years from the date of the incident…
Emphasis added. There are several other exceptions, so if you have questions about how long a wrongful death lawsuit might last or how long you can wait to file, talk to a wrongful death attorney for a consultation. A Florida wrongful death attorney can walk you through every step of these difficult and complicated processes. Whether the death was a result of an auto accident, medical error, or a workplace fatality, if a family plans on filing wrongful death lawsuits, a wrongful death attorney can help you and your family throughout this difficult time.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience this complicated and emotionally stressful legal situation. However, if you are in need of legal assistance and want to contact a Tampa wrongful death attorney, give Herron Law a call today.