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what is the statute of limitations for wrongful death in florida

What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Florida?

Under Florida law, surviving family members have a right to seek compensation from the person or company whose negligence caused their loved one’s death. Florida’s wrongful death statute allows the victim’s surviving family members to hold the at-fault person financially accountable for their loved one’s death. The wrongful death also ensures that surviving family members and loved ones receive fair financial compensation that will help them survive in the future without the financial support of their deceased loved one. Surviving family members should know that they only have a limited time to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations

Every state has statutes of limitations that limit the amount of time family members have to submit a wrongful death lawsuit. If you would like to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit, you must comply with the Florida statute of limitation. Parties must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of their loved one’s death date in most cases. If the statute of limitation passes before you file a lawsuit, you will lose all of the legal rights associated with your wrongful death lawsuit.

Regardless of the type of accident that caused your loved one’s death, you have two years from the date of their death to file a lawsuit. Suppose your loved one passed away in a car accident on January 1st, 2020. In that case, you would have until January 1st, 2022, to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The time frame is based on the date of your loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one was in a car accident on January 1st, 2020, but did not pass away until January 14th, 2020, you would have until January 14th, 2022, to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

We recommend discussing your case with one of the experienced wrongful-death lawyers at Gould Cooksey Fennell as soon as possible. We will carefully review your case and help you understand how much time you have before you lose your ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Thinking about filing a lawsuit after your loved one’s death may seem overwhelming. However, you do not want to lose your right to seek the compensation you deserve. 


Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations

In general, you will only have two years to bring a wrongful death lawsuit from the date of your loved one’s death.  Florida courts are strict about the statute of limitations and will refuse to hear cases after the limitation is up if there are no extenuating conditions in place. However, and certain extenuating circumstances, the court may shorten or extend this time frame based on the nature of the wrongful death lawsuit.  For example, when the death was a result of one of the following conditions, the time limit may be extended longer than two years:

  • Murder or homicide
  • Medical malpractice
  • A government entity

In the case of death caused by medical malpractice, the two-year time frame does not begin at the date of your loved one’s death. Instead, the time will start when your loved one’s cause of death is discovered. For example, when a family does not know that their loved one died because of medical negligence, they cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Deaths caused by homicide are another exception to the general rule. Homicide investigations frequently take a considerable length of time. Surviving family members cannot bring a lawsuit against the person who killed their loved one if they do not know the defendant’s identity. It could take over a year to identify and arrest the person responsible for a loved one’s death. In that case, the statute of limitation may not start until the responsible person has been identified.

Finally, if a government entity such as a city, state, or county was responsible for your loved one’s wrongful death, you may have an extended statute of limitations. The court may extend the statute of limitations to four years to give you more time to gather information. Lawsuits involving government entities are more complex and require a longer timeframe. 


Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits Involving Nursing Homes

Under Florida’s nursing home laws and wrongful death act, a victim’s family or estate has two years from the date of elder abuse to file a claim. The surviving family members can bring legal action against any parties responsible for the nursing home resident’s death. According to Florida law, any legal action for damages via a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within:

  • Two years of the date the incident giving rise to the legal action occurred, or
  • Two years from the time the incident was discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence

When nursing home residents have to endure abuse, neglect, pain, and suffering, it can be heartbreaking for family members. If you know that your loved one was abused or neglected while living in a nursing home, we recommend discussing your case with a lawyer as soon as you can. 

The team at Gould Cooksey Fennell will investigate your case, file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of your deceased loved one, and fight to get answers for you and your family. Nursing homes should be held accountable when they allow abuse and neglect to take place instead of protecting their residents and keeping them safe.


Contact a Florida Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in a wrongful death case, it is advantageous to begin working with an attorney as soon as possible. At Gould Cooksey Fennell, we offer potential clients a free initial consultation so they can discuss their case with us without the financial burden of paying for the consultation. If you have questions about your legal rights in Florida, contact our Vero Beach law firm as soon as possible.

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