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Not Everyone Can Sue For Wrongful Death

One of the most tragic things that can happen to any family is the wrongful death of a family member through the carelessness, negligence, or recklessness of someone else. It may be college students taking pictures of themselves in a car, not seeing a child on a bicycle in time and causing a fatal collision. Or it may be an inattentive employee not properly strapping someone in for a bungee jump. It may even be someone leaving a gun out, loaded, on a table or other accessible area while kids are visiting.

Whatever the case, there are plenty of tragic deaths around the country, and in Florida itself, where the cause of death is directly attributable to someone else’s actions. And in these cases, where the death was not deliberate, the wrongful death lawsuit exists. But who is actually able to approach a lawyer and discuss the possibility of a wrongful death trial in court?

Family First

As deep as the emotional connections may be between people, in most cases, only legally recognized immediate family of the deceased may be able to go to court for wrongful death. So, sadly, friends, romantic partners with no legal union, and even distant relatives are not eligible to sue, no matter how deep the relationship may be. There are, however, a few exceptions for family relations. If you are:

  • – Parents
  • – A child
  • – A spouse
  • – Legally adopted siblings with a financial dependency
  • – A child born outside of marriage for which the parent has established financial support
  • – Blood relatives with a financial dependency

Then you may have a claim for wrongful death and should seriously consider approaching an experienced wrongful death lawyer.

Specific Instances

As you can see from the above listing of family members qualified for litigation, some of this legal entitlement is tied into financial support and some is not. The death of a child under 25, for example, does not usually mean a loss of financial support for parents, because the child is unlikely to be a contributing an income. Quite the opposite in fact.

And yet, parents can, and do, sue other parties when their child has died as a result of negligence, often with financial compensation not being the point, so much as financial punishment.

On the other hand, older or “adult” children can go to court for the death of a parent, depending on the circumstances. If, for example, an elderly parent was taking a walk in a shopping mall, leaned against a railing on the third floor, and the railing broke, causing that elderly parent to fall to her death, the adult children could sue the shopping mall for wrongful death. However, they could only do so if there is no spouse. So if this elderly mother was survived only by her children, and her husband was already deceased, the adult children could go forward. If a spouse has survived the victim, then it is the spouse that gets immediate privilege to sue for wrongful death if he or she should wish to do so.

Take Action If It’s Right

If it is clear that your family has just been victimized by a preventable, unnecessary death due to recklessness, carelessness, or neglect, then take legal action. While an accidental death through neglect is not always a criminal act, it can still be answered in court. And if the death is the result of far more serious negligence causes, such as driving while drunk, then criminal charges can also be involved, in addition to suing for wrongful death.

Just get in touch wrongful death lawyers that have the experience and knowledge you need to fight back and get justice.

Stephen M. Fernandez developed a strong belief in justice and fairness in public policy while earning his Political Science degree prior to attending law school. Since joining the Florida Bar Association in 2004, Stephen Fernandez has combined his background in public policy, business administration and civil law to serve as a highly effective trial lawyer fighting for Florida's injured, working hard every day to make sure his clients get what they are owed.

Not Everyone Can Sue For Wrongful Death

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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