Most often, a decedent’s surviving spouse will bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases where no surviving spouse exists, an adult child can bring forth the lawsuit. If the person who died was a minor child, the parents of the child typically file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The personal representative acts to file a claim on behalf of surviving family members. The person who files the lawsuit is responsible for providing the names of all survivors who may benefit from the lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed on behalf of a surviving parent, spouse, child, or blood relative who was dependent on the decedent for support.
Some states allow a domestic partner or civil union to file the lawsuit on behalf of their partner. In cases of an unmarried, adult decedent, many states allow more distant family members, such as siblings, grandparents, or an aunt or uncle, to file a wrongful death claim.
Florida law allows only the personal representative of an estate to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal representative may be a person named in the decedent’s will. In the absence of a will, the court will a personal representative.
Additionally, the child of an unmarried person may benefit if the deceased parent was identified before birth and was contributing to their support. Once the personal representative is identified, they may contact a wrongful death lawyer to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the deceased and their surviving family members.
The primary beneficiaries of the lawsuit will be the person’s surviving family members, including their parents, spouses, and children.
Limits to Number of Claims Filed by a Family
Sometimes a dispute among family members will arise over who will be the one to file a wrongful death suit. These issues may cause more than one claim to be filed on behalf of the decedent. However, most courts will only allow one wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. If families file more than one wrongful death claim for the same individual, the court will often consolidate all of the claims into one lawsuit.