When a loved one passes away because of the fault or negligence of someone else and a wrongful death claim is being considered, you're probably being introduced to the concept of a "personal representative". Many people are confused as to who is this person and the role they play.
In Florida we have a very specific law called our Florida Wrongful Death Act which outlines how this claim or any claims can be brought on behalf of the survivors of the loved one who has passed away against the person who has caused this loss. And, our law requires that one person be appointed by the probate court with the help of your lawyer to bring all claims on behalf of all survivors.
Here's an example. Someone passes away and they are survived by two children and the wife or a husband. Typically, that husband or wife would be appointed the personal representative of the estate. They would bring all claims on behalf of them and their children against the person responsible. This is really designed to prevent the fear that there might be a rush to the courthouse. There may be other survivors other than the simple example that I gave who might be concerned that someone might get the insurance proceeds or seek to file a claim against the person involved before other people get to be involved and the money might be dispersed in a way that might be uneven.
The purpose of the personal representative is to bring all claims in one action, one proceeding or one case so that everyone is compensated out of that one action and any debts of the estate are all paid through that one action. It's really to simplify things.