Frequently Asked Questions
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In a wrongful death case who is the right family member to hire a lawyer before the Personal Representative is appointed?
Florida law is very clear that the personal representative (PR) of the estate of the person who died is given legal authority to hire a lawyer and pursue the wrongful death claim on behalf of all survivors. However, it may take weeks before the order appointing the personal representative is signed by the judge of the Probate Court. The family often needs to make the decision to hire a lawyer before the PR has been appointed in order to investigate the traffic crash or other fatal incident. Who is the right person to engage the lawyer before the personal representative has been appointed?
The answer may turn on whether the person who died had a will or died without a will. Florida Statute 733.301 offers guidance on who has preference to be named as personal representative. If the deceased had a will it may nominate a specific person to serve as the personal representative of the estate. That person would have first preference to be appointed by the judge as the PR and would be the appropriate person to meet with a lawyer. If the will does not nominate a specific person, the majority of the estate beneficiaries could agree on the person to serve as the personal representative. Otherwise it would fall to the best qualified beneficiary of the will. This person would hire the lawyer for the wrongful death case.
In situations where the deceased died without a will, the person with first preference to act as the personal representative would be their surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, or if the surviving spouse is not able or qualified to act, the majority of the heirs could agree on the person to be nominated. Otherwise, it could fall to the best qualified heir closest in line to select the lawyer.
In situations where an agreement is needed on who is best qualified to serve as PR, a meeting of the heirs or beneficiaries ideally would be held with the lawyer. If such a meeting is not feasible, once an agreement is reached on who will serve as the PR, the lawyer may give each beneficiary or heir forms to sign confirming their agreement on the person to be nominated as personal representative.
The Benefits of Hiring A Wrongful Death Attorney
The purpose of this system for nominating the personal representative is to have the court name one person with legal authority to act on behalf of the estate. That person has the authority to hire the attorney to pursue the wrongful death claim, approve the filing of any lawsuit and, ultimately, sign any settlement checks and releases. Retaining the wrongful death attorney is a very important decision and it should be done as soon as possible. By identifying who will serve as the PR in a smooth and orderly manner, that person can engage the wrongful death lawyer with confidence. This allows the wrongful death lawyer to be retained before the PR is officially appointed by the court so that he or she can pursue all needed steps to investigate the case at the earliest opportunity.
If you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney please contact us online or call our office directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule your free consultation.
What are Florida’s No Fault Death Benefits?
If your loved one was killed in a Florida car accident involving a vehicle, whether they were a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist, they are entitled to $5,000 in Florida no-fault death benefits. Which insurance company pays this amount is dependent on the coverage of the individuals involved. These benefits are generally paid directly to the family of the deceased to help with funeral expenses.
If the deceased owned their own vehicle and carried no-fault (PIP) coverage then their own insurance company would pay the no-fault death benefits following a fatal Florida car accident. The no-fault death benefits carry over whether the victim was the driver, a passenger in another car, or a pedestrian/bicyclist. The no-fault death benefits are not tied to the vehicle, but rather the insured person themselves.
If the deceased did not carry no-fault coverage then the insurance company of the driver of the car that caused the Florida car accident would pay the no-fault death benefits. When a car accident occurs in the deceased’s own car their own insurance company pays the no-fault death benefits, whether the accident was caused by another negligent driver or if it was a single-car accident.
When no-fault death benefits are paid for a Florida car accident, they generally go directly to the family of the deceased. This is to allow for help in funeral expenses and other immediate financial stresses. Most insurance companies will require a copy of the death certificate and proof that the death was caused by a car accident.
It is important to understand how the insurance companies impact your wrongful death claim when you have lost a loved one in a car accident. Before accepting a settlement offer, order a FREE copy of my consumer guide, Survivor’s Guide to Florida Wrongful Death Claims or contact Jim Dodson Law to schedule a complimentary case review at 888-207-0905.
What is the Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
If someone you love has been killed in an accident in Florida and that accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, there is a specified amount of time in which you can file a wrongful death claim. According to the Florida statute of limitations, you will generally have 2 years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim.
If you have questions about Florida’s statute of limitations regarding wrongful death, you can get the professional advice of a lawyer who has experience handling such cases.
In addition to this 2-year statute of limitations, there may be specific notice requirements that apply to claims against government entities. These requirements may need to be fulfilled before a lawsuit can be filed.
If your wrongful death claim is due to medical malpractice, there is a time period in which the wrongful death must be investigated. Furthermore, in a claim due to medical malpractice, a notice of intent to file a claim must be sent to potential defendants before a lawsuit can be filed.
If you want to learn more about the Florida wrongful death claims process, start by requesting a free copy of our legal guide, Survivor’s Guide to Florida Wrongful Death Claims. Or, if you prefer to speak to us right away, contact us today for a no cost evaluation of your case at 888-207-0905. Don’t wait to call. Florida has limits and deadlines on when you can bring a claim. Don’t let your claim be turned down or refused…call today!
Who Can Be a Personal Representative in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If someone you love has been killed in Florida as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death claim. However, there are specific rules on who is eligible to make a wrongful death claim in Florida. If you have questions on whether or not you can make a claim, you can get the professional advice of a wrongful death attorney.
Under Florida law, the only person who can make a wrongful death claim is the deceased’s personal representative. This representative must make the claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate, and on behalf of each individual survivor. In this case, survivors may include:
- the deceased’s spouse,
- the deceased’s children;
- the deceased’s parents;
- the deceased’s blood relatives; and
- in some cases, their adoptive relatives.
Under Florida statutes, survivorship is to be determined at the time of the deceased’s death. Furthermore, statutes specify what type of damages each type of survivor may recover. In a Florida wrongful death claim, damages may include the deceased’s medical expenses, their funeral and burial costs, and specific losses that were suffered by the survivors.
If you want to file a wrongful death claim, or to know more about who can act as a deceased’s personal representative, you should get the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney.