Guide to Wrongful Death Settlements in Florida

Losing a loved one is an unimaginably painful experience, and when that loss is due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct, the emotional toll can be compounded by financial and legal challenges. In Florida, wrongful death claims provide a legal pathway for families to seek compensation for their loss, but navigating this complex area of law can be overwhelming. 

At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we understand the delicate nature of these cases and are committed to guiding families through every step of the process with compassion and expertise.

Wrongful death lawsuits in Florida are governed by specific statutes that define who can file a claim, what damages may be recovered, and the time limits for initiating a lawsuit. This article aims to provide families with critical information about wrongful death claims in Florida, helping them understand their rights and how to pursue justice for their loved one. With an in-depth look at the legal framework, procedural requirements, and potential challenges, we equip you with the knowledge needed to navigate these difficult waters.

Guide to Wrongful Death Settlements in Florida

Understanding Wrongful Death in Florida

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?

In Florida, a wrongful death is considered to have occurred when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person or corporation. Examples include fatalities resulting from car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, and criminal actions. The law treats these cases with the seriousness they deserve, aiming to provide financial relief to the deceased’s survivors and dependents.

Legal Criteria under Florida Law

The Florida Wrongful Death Act, found in Chapters 768 of the Florida Statutes, outlines the specific criteria and procedures for filing a wrongful death claim. To establish a case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that:

  • The death was caused, in whole or in part, by the conduct of the defendant.
  • The defendant was negligent or strictly liable for the victim’s death.
  • There is a surviving family member or beneficiaries who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death.
  • A personal representative has been appointed to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the estate and the survivors.

These legal criteria set the framework within which wrongful death claims operate, emphasizing the need for thorough legal understanding and adept representation by firms like Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., who are experienced in these matters.

The Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Who Can File a Claim?

In Florida, the right to file a wrongful death claim is specific to certain family members and representatives. The law stipulates that the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file the lawsuit on behalf of the surviving family members. Typically, the personal representative is named in the deceased’s will or estate plan. If no representative is designated, the court may appoint one. The beneficiaries of the lawsuit can include the deceased’s spouse, children, and parents, as well as any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.”

Important Deadlines and Procedural Steps

Timing is crucial in wrongful death cases. Florida law requires that wrongful death claims be filed within two years of the date of death. This statute of limitations is strict, with few exceptions, underscoring the need to begin legal proceedings as soon as possible.

The procedural steps involved in filing a wrongful death lawsuit include:

  1. Investigation and Documentation: Collecting all necessary evidence related to the wrongful death, including medical records, accident reports, and witness statements.
  2. Filing the Lawsuit: The personal representative must file a complaint in a state court, setting forth the facts of the case and the basis for claiming wrongful death.
  3. Responding to Defenses: The defendant may raise defenses, such as contributory negligence or assumption of risk. It is crucial to prepare to counter these defenses effectively.
  4. Discovery Process: Both sides exchange information through depositions, requests for documents, and interrogatories.
  5. Settlement or Trial: Many wrongful death suits are settled out of court. If a settlement is not reached, the case will go to trial.

Handling these steps requires the expertise of experienced attorneys who can navigate the complexities of wrongful death lawsuits. At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we ensure that every procedural requirement is met with diligence and every legal avenue is explored to secure justice for your family.

Calculating Damages and Settlements

Types of Compensation Available

In wrongful death cases in Florida, the types of damages that may be awarded are designed to compensate for both economic and non-economic losses. Economic damages can include:

  • Medical and funeral expenses related to the deceased’s death.
  • Loss of the deceased’s expected earnings, benefits (such as pension plans), and other earnings until retirement.
  • Loss of inheritances caused by the untimely death.

Non-economic damages cover:

  • Loss of support and services the deceased provided to the surviving family members.
  • Loss of companionship, protection, and guidance provided by the deceased.
  • Mental and emotional pain and suffering due to the loss of a loved one.

Factors Affecting the Settlement Amount

The amount of a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit can vary significantly based on several factors, including:

  • The age, health, and earning capacity of the deceased at the time of death.
  • The degree of dependency of survivors on the deceased.
  • The circumstances of the wrongful death, including any egregiousness of the fault.
  • The skill and experience of the legal representation.

Effective legal representation involves not only establishing the liability and damages owed but also negotiating with insurance companies and opposing counsel to ensure that the family receives fair compensation. Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. is adept at handling these negotiations, often achieving substantial settlements that reflect the true value of the loss suffered by the family.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Typical Obstacles in Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful death lawsuits in Florida can encounter several common challenges:

  1. Proving Negligence: One of the most significant hurdles is demonstrating that the defendant’s actions directly caused the death. This requires clear, compelling evidence and expert testimonies.
  2. Dealing with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often attempt to minimize payouts by disputing claims or undervaluing damages. They may also delay proceedings to pressure families into settling for less.
  3. Statute of Limitations Issues: Families must be aware of and adhere to the two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Florida, missing which can bar the lawsuit entirely.
  4. Complex Legal and Procedural Requirements: Wrongful death claims involve intricate legal procedures and strict adherence to court rules, which can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the legal system.

Strategies for Success

To overcome these challenges, consider the following strategies:

  • Thorough Case Preparation: Collecting extensive evidence and preparing detailed case documentation can significantly strengthen your position.
  • Engaging Expert Witnesses: Experts in fields like forensics, economics, and medicine can provide authoritative testimony that supports your claim.
  • Persistent Legal Advocacy: An experienced attorney can navigate the complexities of the legal system, advocate effectively against insurers’ tactics, and ensure compliance with all procedural requirements.
  • Timely Action: Initiating legal action well within the deadline ensures that your right to sue is not compromised.

At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we combine deep legal knowledge with a proactive approach to tackle these challenges head-on. Our team is committed to supporting families through the difficult times and fighting tirelessly to secure the justice and compensation they deserve.

Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. Today

Navigating a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida can be an emotionally taxing and legally complex process. It requires a deep understanding of the law, a strategic approach to litigation, and a compassionate touch that respects the grieving family’s emotional state. At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we are dedicated to providing families with the support, guidance, and legal expertise needed to navigate this difficult journey.

Whether you are just beginning to explore your legal options or are ready to pursue a claim, it’s crucial to consult with knowledgeable attorneys who can offer comprehensive advice tailored to your specific circumstances. Our team is well-versed in the nuances of Florida wrongful death law and is committed to ensuring that each family we represent receives the maximum compensation and justice they are entitled to.

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, remember that you do not have to face this challenge alone. Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today to discuss your case and explore your options for securing the justice and closure you deserve.  Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright today at 561-556-3514 or schedule your free consultation online.

What People are Saying


West Palm Beach, Florida
They made the whole process really easy. They updated me with what was going on with my car insurance, they helped me out with where to go to get a car rental. They knew my case, they knew who I was, and they could really just guide me toward the right direction.


Broward County, Florida
When I came over here, they treated me like family. I really appreciate it. I referred them to a couple of friends. I explained to my friends and family how the office treated me so good.

Free case evaluation

Injured? Tell us what happened.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.