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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Florida car accidents that occur on interstates and other high-speed roads are especially dangerous, as many drivers fail to realize how speed factors into the likelihood for an accident to occur, as well as the severity of accidents that do occur. Deadly accidents are tragically common on Florida roads, and many could be prevented if all drivers exercise due care when on the road. A recently published local news report discusses an accident that occurred early on New Year’s Eve, which took the life of a young girl and seriously injured several others.

According to the report, the child and her family were traveling in an SUV on Interstate 75 in southwest Florida when their vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle that was following them closely. After the initial collision, the SUV was crushed into a fuel tanker that was stopped in front of it, resulting in several injuries and the death of the young girl. The news report does not mention if any criminal charges will be filed against anyone involved in the crash, however, the at-fault parties may be criminally and civilly liable for the damages resulting from the crash.

High-speed travel of interstates and highways can be especially dangerous. Two of the most common dangerous and illegal driving behaviors that contribute to highway accidents are traveling with excessive speed and following too closely. Many drivers underestimate the time that it takes to come to a stop when driving at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. Factoring in possible distractions as well as reaction time, drivers should leave enough distance between themselves and the next car to allow them to safely stop. Generally, it is reasonable and safe for drivers to leave at least two seconds worth of road between themselves and the next vehicle.

Under Florida law, wrongful death refers to situations where a person’s negligence causes the death. After a successful lawsuit, the court may order the at-fault party to pay damages to the decedent’s close relatives. Damages typically include:

  • Compensation for the survivor’s pain and suffering.
  • Loss of companionship.

After the death of a loved one in an accident, many things may feel out of the family’s control. However, something the loved ones of the deceased can control is whether or not to bring a lawsuit if the accident was caused by another person. These lawsuits are called wrongful death lawsuits, which can be brought in any state. However, states, including Florida, have different requirements for who can bring the lawsuit along with what the parties must allege.

Recently, a Florida man was arrested after a multi-vehicle crash led to fatalities. A man from Miami was traveling west on I-80 and rear-ended another vehicle, which was then hit by another car. In total, the crash involved eight vehicles and caused two fatalities—a father and son who were in the car who was initially rear-ended—and five other people were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police indicated the initial driver caused the accident by not paying attention and driving extremely fast; he has been arrested on two counts of motor vehicle homicide.

Many states have specific laws dedicated to bringing a wrongful death lawsuit. In Florida, the Wrongful Death Act governs all wrongful death suits. The purpose of the Wrongful Death Act is to shift the losses when a wrongful death occurs from the deceased’s survivors to the wrongdoer of the act. Because of this, the family of a person killed under these circumstances can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party. However, there are strict requirements that must be met in order for a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful. A lawsuit can only be brought if the death of the person is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another person, and the accident would have entitled the deceased to bring a personal injury lawsuit if they had not died.

Car accidents are traumatic for those involved, as well as for an accident victim’s loved ones who were not a part of the accident. When someone is killed in a tragic car accident, bringing a lawsuit is not the first thought on the family’s mind. As time progresses, and if they decide that they want to financially recover, the family may be confused about who is permitted to bring the lawsuit. However, Florida law has specific requirements for who is able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit after a loved one has passed away in a car accident.

Recently, a car accident in Miami claimed the lives of a teacher, her husband, and her mother. The teacher, who was driving her mother to her dialysis treatment, was struck by another driver as she was trying to make a turn. Miami-Dade police later indicated that the driver of the second vehicle had been drinking and this likely caused the accident.

In situations like the aforementioned tragedy, it may be confusing to determine who should bring a wrongful death lawsuit. According to Florida law, the lawsuit must be brought by the deceased’s “personal representative” with the intent to obtain compensation for the benefit of the deceased’s “survivors.” A deceased’s “survivors” can include their spouse, children, parents, siblings, and other extended family members. The law also allows other individuals to financially recover from the loss of a loved one if they depended on the deceased for support—either emotionally or financially. Therefore, Florida law provides many family members with the opportunity to sue the accountable party after the loss of a loved one in a car accident.

Losing a loved one is often one of the most painful and traumatic events in an individual’s life. When your loved ones are taken from you suddenly and without warning, however, it can often be even more heart-wrenching. When the loss of a loved one was fully preventable and was the result of another party’s negligence or recklessness, those who are responsible must be held accountable. In these tragic situations, grieving family members can pursue a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party for compensation.

According to a recent news report, a head-on collision killed two people and left two others injured. Florida Highway Patrol reported that two cars were traveling in opposite directions when a third car got between the other drivers. A Toyota, which was traveling east while a Honda was traveling west were interrupted by a Camaro when it tried to pass the Honda by entering the eastbound lane. To avoid the oncoming Camaro, the Toyota swerved right and landed in the grass shoulder before getting back into the eastbound lane, but it overcorrected and traveled into the westbound lane, where it crashed into the Honda. The driver of the Toyota was pronounced dead at the scene and her passenger was transported to the hospital with significant injuries. The driver of the Honda also suffered significant injuries and was in critical condition following the accident, and her passenger died at the scene.

In Florida, wrongful death claims are governed by the state’s “Right to Action” statute, which states that “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person,” the estate, family members, or personal representative of the deceased individual can file a civil suit in court.

Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law provides workers with benefits if they suffer injuries at work or while in the scope of their employment duties. At first glance, the system appears as a quick and efficient way for Florida employees to obtain benefits for their injuries and return to work. However, the system inherently favors employers because, barring certain exceptions, employees lose their right to bring a common-law personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Exceptions to this rule exist in certain situations, such as if the employer did not maintain appropriate worker’s compensation insurance. Further, an exception applies if the employee suffered injuries because of their employer’s particularly egregious wanton gross negligence or intentional conduct. Finally, workers’ compensation does not protect employers from assaults against their employees.

In many cases, workers’ compensation insurance does not adequately cover all of an employee’s injuries and damages. Although employees may not assert personal injury claims against their employer, they may recover damages from other responsible third-parties. To succeed on a third-party claim, plaintiffs must be able to prove that they had a work-related accident, the third-party owed them a duty of care, they breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered injuries because of the work-related incident.

For example, a Florida news report recently described a tragic accident at a St. Petersburg Home Depot. A delivery driver suffered fatal injuries when construction materials fell on him at the store. The driver was working as a third-party carrier for a building material company. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal entity that ensures safe and healthy working conditions, reported that the incident is under investigation. Additionally, Home Depot commented that they were working with authorities to investigate the accident.

A federal district court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiffs’ appeal in a case involving their daughter’s death. The case arose from a tragic Florida car accident that occurred on New Year’s Day.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was driving his mother’s sports car with the plaintiffs’ teenage daughter and another passenger. The driver accelerated to above the speed limit, losing control, and slamming into trees and a lamppost. The driver and another passenger survived the collision, but the plaintiffs’ daughter died at the scene. The state pursued criminal charges against the driver, and the plaintiffs filed a wrongful death suit against the driver, his mother, and the other passenger. However, they could not obtain service on the passenger and dropped him from the lawsuit.

The driver claimed he did not obtain his mother’s consent to drive any of her vehicles, including her golf cart or Porsche sports car. Moreover, the mother testified that she was aware that her son did not have a driver’s license, and she did not permit him to drive her Porsche. The mother moved for summary judgment based on her affidavit and her son’s deposition. In response, the plaintiff presented evidence that the mother permitted her son to drive her golf cart. Further, the plaintiffs contended that the mother presented conflicting evidence regarding whether she ever expressly told her son not to drive her vehicles. The plaintiffs also asked the court to continue the summary judgment motion because they were facing challenges deposing the other passenger. The mother argued that the plaintiffs were causing the delay.

In a recent Florida District Court of Appeal opinion, the court considered whether a defendant was civilly liable for a death that occurred on its property. The case is unique because it involved allegations that the deceased accident victim was involved in criminal activity shortly before she died.

The plaintiff in the case filed a claim against the defendant lodge after her mother was fatally shot in a parking lot owned and operated by the lodge. Following a brawl between some individuals who were part of the decedent’s group and some members of the shooter’s group inside the lodge, the two groups were removed to the parking lot, where a second fight began. Evidence showed that the decedent participated in the parking lot fight and struck a pregnant female who was part of the shooter’s group. After the fight in the parking lot ended, the shooter’s group left the parking lot, and the decedent’s group got into their vehicle, which was parked in the defendant’s parking lot. Before the decedent’s group could pull out of the parking lot, the shooter’s group returned to the lot and opened fire on their vehicle. The decedent was fatally shot while sitting in the front seat.

At the lower court, the defendant argued that they should not be held liable for the decedent’s death because the decedent knowingly struck a pregnant female on their property, committing a crime. Because Florida law prohibits an accident victim from recovering for their injuries if they were hurt while engaging in a crime, the defendant argued that they were not responsible for the decedent’s death. The trial court disagreed and argued that the defense did not apply because the decedent was not engaged in a felony when she was shot.

Riding a bike is a great form of exercise and a way for family and friends to get outside in the beautiful Florida weather. However, when an individual gets into a Florida bike accident, the injuries may be fatal – especially if they were hit by a car. When an accident has resulted in death, it is very devastating and traumatic for the deceased’s loved ones. However, loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit to financially recover and hold the responsible party accountable.

An 11-year old boy was recently killed after being hit by a car while riding his bike with a friend. According to a local news report, the accident occurred at the intersection of two roads in Pensacola. The boy was rushed to the hospital, and after fighting for his life for a few days, he tragically passed away. In these tragic, preventable situations, nothing can bring the deceased loved one back; however, the family can often file a wrongful death lawsuit. Below are some of the commonly asked questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit and what this process entails.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit, and Who Can Bring One?

According to Florida Statutes § 768.18 – which governs wrongful death lawsuits in Florida – a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another individual. Florida created the ability for loved ones to sue the responsible party so the losses can be shifted from the loved ones to the wrongdoer – or as much as possible.

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In light of COVID-19, many families have been heading out to explore the great outdoors for nature getaways and safer vacations that still adhere to social distancing guidelines. However, no one expects to get into a Florida accident while on a trip, especially one that has devastating consequences.

In a recent state appellate decision, a plaintiff filed a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent against a Florida lodge and resort after an accident caused the individual’s death. Evidently, the defendant lodge offered a complimentary golf cart service to take guests around its property. However, the golf cart was prohibited from traveling on public roads beyond the lodge’s property, but could cross the main highway flanking the lodge grounds.

On the night of the accident, the decedent got into a golf cart and asked a bellman from the lodge to take him to a local store located on the other side of the highway. Consistent with lodge policy, the bellman drove the decedent through the lodge grounds and stopped to drop the decedent off. When the decedent exited the golf cart and attempted to cross the highway on foot, he was struck by a vehicle. Following the man’s death, the plaintiff argued that the defendant lodge undertook a duty to reasonably and safely transport the decedent and that they failed to warn him of potential dangers of the highway when he was dropped off. Following the trial, the lower court ruled in favor of the defendant and the plaintiff appealed.

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