Although Florida imposes some restrictions regarding who may be sued for a wrongful death, it is, in fact, possible to sue some family members in some circumstances.

A wrongful death is always tragic and always unexpected. You’re about to learn some of the details regarding wrongful death lawsuits in Florida, who can sue for a wrongful death, who can be sued, and how a wrongful death lawyer can help.

A wrongful death claim is a civil action that may be brought by surviving family members who have lost a loved one because another party was negligent.

HOW DO WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS HELP SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBERS?

While cash alone can never assuage a family’s grief over the unexpected and sudden death of a family member, wrongful death claims help families avoid the financial hardships that plague so many families after a loved one’s death.

In Palm Beach County and throughout Florida, when one party’s negligence was a direct cause of another person’s death, the negligent party may be held liable with a wrongful death action.

Historically, the legal principle known as “family immunity” prevented a family member from suing a second family member for the wrongful death of a third family member.

HOW DID “FAMILY IMMUNITY” WORK?

For example, if a husband and wife were traveling together, and the wife died because of the husband’s negligent driving, their children could not sue the husband/father for wrongful death.

Family immunity was intended to keep families from splitting apart, but it was also meant to keep families from conspiring to get into a bogus “accident” so that one family member could collect damages in a personal injury claim against another family member’s insurance company.

The problem was that the principle of family immunity left far too many personal injury victims with no way to be compensated for their medical bills and lost wages after a serious accident.

Family immunity also left far too many surviving family members of wrongful death victims with no reimbursement for their losses. Today, many states have abolished the family immunity principle.

CAN CHILDREN IN FLORIDA SUE THEIR PARENTS FOR NEGLIGENCE?

In Florida, however, and speaking generally, a child still may not sue a parent for negligence. In a 1982 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court proclaimed:

“Protecting the family unit is a significant public policy behind parental immunity. We are greatly concerned by any intrusion that might adversely affect the family relationship. Litigation between family members would be such an intrusion.”

However, the Florida Supreme Court has allowed exceptions to parental immunity, and if a child dies in Florida because of a parent’s negligence, in most cases, a representative of the child may file a wrongful death action on his or her behalf.

WHO MAY FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM IN FLORIDA?

Only adults age 18 and over have standing to file a wrongful death claim in Florida, but a parent or guardian may represent a child and bring a wrongful death claim on a child’s behalf.

Spouses may not sue one another in Florida, but in any other situation, if you have lost a loved one in Florida because another family member was negligent, the smartest thing you can do is to discuss the details of the case with an experienced West Palm Beach wrongful death attorney.

Your attorney will review the details of the case and explain how the law applies in your own situation. If you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, your attorney will explain how a wrongful death claim works, and if you choose to act, your attorney will help.

WHAT IS A HOUSEHOLD EXCLUSION CLAUSE?

However, here in Florida, your right to file a wrongful death claim against a member of your own family may be impaired in cases arising from traffic collisions if your auto insurance policy includes a “household exclusion clause.”

When the states began to eliminate the family immunity principle from state laws, insurance companies responded by adding a household exclusion clause to auto insurance policies.

If an insurance policy has a household exclusion clause, family members may not collect from an auto insurer for a wrongful death that any other member of the household has caused by negligence.

In the state of Florida, it is absolutely imperative that auto insurance policyholders fully understand the terms, conditions, and provisions of their automobile insurance policies.

HOW ARE MOST WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS RESOLVED IN FLORIDA?

If you file a wrongful death claim in Florida, you should know that most wrongful death actions in this state are settled in out-of-court negotiations when attorneys for both sides meet privately to resolve the claim.

However, if no acceptable settlement is offered during these negotiations, your wrongful death lawyer will not hesitate to take your case to trial and demand the compensation that your family needs and deserves.

In some Florida wrongful death cases, along with compensation for the losses suffered by surviving family members, a court may also choose to award punitive damages to punish the negligent party and to deter similar negligence in the future.

HOW QUICKLY DO YOU HAVE TO ACT AFTER A WRONGFUL DEATH?

If you lose a loved one in a wrongful death incident in Florida, as difficult as it might be for your family, you need to discuss your family’s rights and options at once with a wrongful death lawyer.

Florida imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims, so if you wait more than two years to take legal action after a wrongful death, the courts in Florida will not hear your case.

Don’t wait two years after a wrongful death – and then scramble to file a lawsuit at the last minute. Don’t even wait two weeks. After a wrongful death in south Florida, put your case immediately in the hands of a wrongful death attorney.

WHAT WILL IT COST YOU TO LEARN MORE?

If your family has lost a loved one in a wrongful death, most wrongful death attorneys in Florida will provide you with a free first consultation and case review. It will cost you and your family nothing to learn more about your rights and where you stand legally after a wrongful death.

If your lawyer recommends a wrongful death lawsuit, you’ll pay no fees until your attorney obtains an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict on your family’s behalf.

If you have lost a loved one suddenly and accidentally because someone else was negligent, your family should be compensated. If the negligent person was also a member of your family, you may or may not be able to obtain that compensation in Florida.

You’ll need to have a wrongful death attorney look at the details of the wrongful death. It won’t cost you anything to get the legal advice you need – and it’s your right.