Under Florida Statutes section 768.16, the deceased’s personal representative of their estate or an individual listed in their will may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of surviving family members. In the absence of an estate plan or will, the Court will appoint a representative. If there is no surviving spouse or the surviving spouse declines to serve as the representative, the person (or institution) selected by a majority of the decedent’s heirs will be appointed. If the heirs cannot agree on a personal representative, the court will decide.
The following surviving family members are legally allowed to recover damages in a West Palm Beach wrongful death lawsuit:
- Minor Children (children under the age of 25, notwithstanding the age of majority, which includes a child born
- to a mother out of wedlock, but not a child born to a father out of wedlock, unless the father has recognized a responsibility for supporting the child)
- Adult children (if there is no surviving spouse)
- Parents if there is no spouse or children
- Any blood relative or adoptive sibling who was partially or wholly dependent on the deceased person for support or services
All potential beneficiaries of a wrongful death recovery (including the estate) must be identified in the complaint, as well as their relationships to the deceased.