Although families who lost a loved one to wrongful death can take legal action to recover damages, there is a strict deadline to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida. Generally, this limit is two years, but there are some exceptions to the rule.
While this may seem like a lot of time, it’s important to take the time to understand the wrongful death statute of limitations in Florida to ensure you don’t miss the deadline for recovering damages. Our Florida wrongful death attorneys explain the details you need to know about the Florida wrongful death statute of limitations.
How Long Do You Have To File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
According to Fla. Stat. § 95.11 (4)(c) (2023), the Florida statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years from the date the death occurred. Family members of the deceased person can bring a wrongful death claim within that timeframe to recover damages caused by their loss. If they fail to take legal action within that strict two-year window, they lose the right to pursue financial compensation.
What Is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Florida?
If your loved one’s death was a result of medical malpractice, there’s a chance you may have more time to file a lawsuit. In most cases, the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Florida is two years. However, there are exceptions for medical malpractice that could extend this deadline if fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation of facts prevented the discovery of the cause of death.
While exceptions for medical malpractice are not common in wrongful death cases, that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you determine the exact deadline that may apply to your case if you lost a family member due to medical malpractice.
Is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Different When Suing Florida Government Entities?
Wrongful death lawsuits filed against the government are another exception to the two-year statute of limitations in Florida. Because government entities have sovereign immunity in Florida, the process of suing the state or its agencies looks different than standard civil claims. Sovereign immunity simply states that the government cannot be sued without its permission or consent.
Florida law does waive sovereign immunity in some cases involving injuries and wrongful death, with strict limitations on how much a victim can receive in damages. The claimant must follow official procedures to notify the Department of Financial Services in writing of the intent to sue for wrongful death within two years. Also, under Fla. Stat. § 768.28 (6)(d) (2023), the statute of limitations is tolled or paused during the period of time the agency is reviewing the claim, which can extend the process beyond two years.
Are There Other Exceptions to Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
There are other exceptions that could impact the two-year statute of limitations for Florida wrongful death claims, including:
- Death of the at-fault party: If the person you are suing for wrongful death dies during the legal process, you need to act quickly to avoid dismissal of the case. You must file a motion to name the deceased defendant’s estate representative as the new defendant in your wrongful death case within 90 days.
- Death of the plaintiff: According to Florida law, the wrongful death victim’s personal representative is the person who files the claim. If that person dies, the court handling the case may order a substitution to continue. Speak with an attorney to ensure you don’t miss crucial steps during this process.
- The defendant is out-of-state: The statute of limitations may be extended if the defendant does not live in Florida, requiring additional time to begin the legal proceedings.
- Missing defendants: The Florida statute of limitations for wrongful death may pause if a defendant is missing to prevent that person from hiding or waiting out the deadline.
- Deaths caused by murder or manslaughter: Under Fla. Stat. § 95.11 (10) (2023), a wrongful death that results from murder or manslaughter does not have a statute of limitations. In these cases, a civil wrongful death claim can start at any time, regardless of an arrest, criminal charges, or conviction.
If you’re unsure whether you have a wrongful death claim and what time limits apply to your case, contact our team of trusted attorneys in Florida at (877) 245-6707 to schedule a free consultation.
When Does the Florida Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations Start?
The statute of limitations starts on the date the victim dies, which could be different from the day the accident or injury occurred. For example, if a family member was severely hurt in a car accident, but did not pass away until weeks later, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit starts on the day your loved one died, not the car crash date.
Although two years might seem like a long time, it can pass very quickly when you are grieving and trying to get your life back on track after your loss. If you do not bring your civil action within the legal time limit, you lose the ability to recover damages. To avoid missing the deadline to file your lawsuit, it’s important to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney right away. A skilled lawyer can:
- Explain your rights and important Florida laws.
- Evaluate whether you have a case.
- Walk you through the legal process and what you can expect.
- Gather crucial evidence right away.
- Make sure you meet the deadline to file your lawsuit.
Our Compassionate Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers Are Here To Help
At Farah & Farah, we understand how overwhelming a tragic death can be for the family members left behind. Our compassionate and supportive team of wrongful death attorneys can help you seek justice for your loved one and work to claim the maximum financial compensation you need and deserve. With more than 40 years of experience with complex wrongful death cases, you can trust that our team has the resources and knowledge to handle your case. We treat every client with honesty, dignity, and respect, and we will have your back every step of the way.
If you recently lost a loved one to wrongful death in Florida, call us at (877) 245-6707 or contact us online to schedule a free initial case review. We can discuss the specific deadlines that apply to your wrongful death case and how we can help you take action. Don’t lose your opportunity to recover damages to support your family during this difficult time.