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Same-Sex Marriage in Florida: Survivor Rights and Wrongful Death Claims

It has only been four years since Florida has recognized same-sex marriages and as a result, many couples still don’t understand their rights under the law. You are afforded the same rights as heterosexual married couples and this means that you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Most often these claims arise after a not-at-fault automobile accident, but they could result from other kinds of negligence as well. Having said that, it’s time to get a bit of legal history and then look at your specific rights and how to handle them in the event of wrongful death.

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Florida Law as of January 6, 2015

While other states recognized same-sex marriages more than a decade earlier, they became legally recognized in the State of Florida as of January 6, 2015. Believe it or not, Massachusetts became the first state to recognize gay marriage way back in 2003 when the State Court ruled that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional. As for Florida, the state law was based on a U.S. District Court ruling in the case of Brenner vs. Scott from the previous year on August 21, 2014. What all this boils down to is that if you are the legal spouse in a same-sex marriage, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim provided all criteria are met.

The Burden of Proof in a Wrongful Death Claim

Meeting the criteria for a wrongful death claim is no easy feat and that is why it is necessary to contract an experienced and winning Miami wrongful death attorney. The decedent, your spouse, is the victim, and in order to claim wrongful death, you must prove that the defendant in the case caused the death willfully or through negligence as in an accident. As the plaintiff, you bear the burden of proof that you are legally entitled to the survivor benefits you would have received had your partner lived. It’s all about the defendant breaching their duty and whether this breach was either the direct cause of death or what is known as the proximate (contributing) cause of death.

Why You Need an Attorney

Much of this is difficult to prove and will be dependent on the testimony of a number of expert witnesses. Then there are financial considerations to be evaluated and that’s why an attorney is necessary. Some of the negotiations will take place out of court but in all cases, they must be approved in court and a lawyer will ensure that all legal requirements are met. There may be other survivors who can make a claim on the estate of the decedent and again, an attorney can help sort out who is entitled to what.

In your time of grief after losing your life’s partner due to wrongful death, you may not be thinking clearly. Do or say nothing until you are represented by an attorney. The attorney will work to prove wrongful death and will strive to get you the just compensation you deserve. Nothing will bring your loved one back, but the compensation will help alleviate any financial losses sustained with the loss of your spouse. Always call an attorney before doing anything at all.

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