Losing a loved one in a preventable accident can be devastating. At the Wells Law Group, P.A. we know how difficult it can be to think about filing a lawsuit when you are dealing with emotional and psychological repercussions of a family member's untimely death. While it may seem impossible to think about seeking compensation through a lawsuit at this point in time, it is important to discuss your case with a Tampa Bay wrongful death attorney who can help you to understand the types of compensation for which you might be eligible.
When we work with families who have recently lost a loved one due to another party's negligence, we often hear a similar question: what is the difference between filing a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit? These two types of claims are similar, but there are important, key differences that you should know about in order to prevail in a successful lawsuit.
Personal Injury Law and Wrongful Deaths
How are personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims related? Generally speaking, personal injury law is a broad area of the law that allows an injured party to recover damages from a defendant whose negligence or intentional bad act resulted in that party's injuries. For example, if a person gets hurt in a car accident caused by an aggressive or a distracted driver, then that injury victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in which she seeks compensation from that negligent driver. In this scenario, the injury victim becomes the plaintiff in the lawsuit, and the negligent driver becomes the defendant.
Wrongful death lawsuits are related to personal injury law in that they also allow for the recovery of damages after another party's negligence or intentional bad act causes harm. However, in a wrongful death case, the injury victim is no longer alive to file a claim for compensation (such as in the scenario we discussed above). This is where a wrongful death claim can come into play. Wrongful death lawsuits allow the personal representative, on behalf of the estate and on behalf of the deceased person's survivors-the close family members of the deceased-to essentially file a claim on behalf of the deceased injury victim since she or he is no longer alive to do so. The family members with potential claims include: the deceased person's spouse, children, and parents, and any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is "partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services." It should also be noted that the types of damages recoverable by all these potential claimants are different, and beyond the scope of this blog.
Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
Florida sets forth a time in which any potential claimant is required to file a lawsuit filed or the claim is forever barred. It is called the statute of limitations or the limitations period. If the claim is not filed before the statute of limitations runs out, then the party cannot seek compensation through a lawsuit.
The statutes of limitations are different under Florida law for personal injury and wrongful death claims. The personal injury statute of limitations is generally four years from the date of the injury. Differently, for a wrongful death claim, you must file within two years from the date of the injury victim's death.
Learn More About Filing a Claim By Speaking with a Tampa Bay Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, an experienced Tampa Bay wrongful death lawyer can assist you. Contact the Wells Law Group, P.A. to speak with an advocate today.