Apportioning a Wrongful Death Settlement

In Florida personal injury cases, when a loved one has been killed as a result of the negligence of another, a lawsuit for wrongful death may be brought by the decedent's survivors. Under Florida’s wrongful death statutes, a personal representative of the estate has the statutory authority to enter into a wrongful death settlement. This authority to enter in a settlement may be absolute but the apportionment of the settlement amongst the survivors is not.

A recent case from Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals addressed whether in a wrongful death case it was necessary to hold a hearing to address the apportionment of a settlement. See Walker v. Bailey, 89 So.3d 297 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012).

In the Walker decision the 5th DCA held that a personal representative has the statutory authority to enter into wrongful death settlements. The court further held that if the survivors object either to a settlement’s amount or apportionment, the court’s authority is invoked to determine the settlement’s reasonableness. The court found that although Florida Statute 768.27 does not expressly require a hearing on the issues, it is routine practice for Florida courts to require one, as without it, the trial court cannot properly determine a settlement’s reasonableness or the propriety of any proposed apportionment of the settlement proceeds.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of a negligent act of another we invite you to contact our firm for a free consultation. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, PLLC we represent injured parties in an array of different cases, including wrongful death actions, truck accidents, car accidents, and nursing home abuse.