The first person that can file a claim on behalf of the wrongful death is the deceased’s surviving spouse. Spouses, parents, and children receive first priority in filing a wrongful death lawsuit, followed by any blood relative or adopted sibling who was, either wholly or in part, dependent on the deceased, financially or personally. These regulations apply only to the state of Florida, as different states can have very different laws regarding wrongful death suits. But in any state, the spouse would be the closest in their relationship and the most obvious choice for filing a claim. The surviving spouse can file a claim, and the surviving minor children can also be included in the claim for loss of companionship, loss of support, and a variety of other losses. Now, if there’s no surviving spouse, all the children can bring a claim for wrongful death. If there are no surviving children and no surviving spouse, then the parents of the deceased can bring a claim on behalf of their adult child that was killed. If a minor child was killed, the parents would, of course, be entitled to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of their child.
The people listed here— spouses, children, and parents— are going to be the ones most directly affected by the loss of their loved one, and the ones who see the biggest change in their life as a result of that death. Financially, spouses lose the income their partner brought in to help maintain their household and their lifestyle. Children may be deprived of an inheritance or a pension from which they stood to benefit. And parents may be deprived of the kind of care their adult child would provide for them later in life. In the case of a minor child’s passing, the damages, aside from medical bills and funeral costs, are entirely non-financial. In terms of non-financial losses, the potential losses are largely the same against all possible claimants. Spouses, parents, and children alike may suffer from the loss of companionship, guidance, love, nurturing, and consortium that the deceased provided. This is the basic overview of the right to make claims with respect to survivors.
Now, with respect to the estate, the estate can bring a claim for medical bills incurred, funeral expenses, things of that nature that were taken directly from the estate. Here, the estate is defined as the assets and liabilities left behind after a person’s death. So, if you were a beneficiary of someone’s will, and that will divided up their estate, you would see a loss in your inheritance due to the financial losses to the estate. Bringing this kind of claim works on behalf of anyone who would benefit from the deceased’s estate. Rather than being filed by an individual on their own behalf, claims with respect to the estate would be done and filed by the personal representative. The estate would be opened, the person representing would be assigned— that would likely be a family member— and they will handle not only the claim on behalf of the estate but also the claim on behalf of the survivors. The suit would be in the representative’s name, but the damages would be dispersed to all beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate. If you find yourself contemplating filing a wrongful death suit, contact us. We know what a serious responsibility a wrongful death suit is, and we will honor your loss by doing our utmost to get you the best result possible.