Sometimes, no matter how careful we are on the road, what other drivers do is out of our control. When reckless or intoxicated drivers, bad weather conditions, or other external factors occur, accidents are sometimes inevitable. When the factors are preventable or at least avoidable, however, those who are responsible should be held accountable—especially if the accident that takes place results in significant injury, death, or property damage.
According to a recent Florida news report, a local man was recently sentenced to 60 years in prison following a fatal drunk driving accident that left a couple and their unborn child dead. A jury convicted the man of DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a car accident involving a death, and driving with a permanently revoked driver’s license. In 2018 when the initial accident took place, investigators said that the man was heavily intoxicated and driving the wrong way when he hit the couple’s car. He subsequently fled the scene and hid for hours in a ditch until local authorities located him. The man’s records indicated that he had a history of reckless driving, with five previous DUI arrests and his license revoked.
In Florida, like other states, loved ones of a deceased individual may have grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased passed away because of another individual’s actions. Florida law defines wrongful death as taking place when an individual causes another’s death through a “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” Negligence-based accidents, such as reckless drunk driving accidents, for example, could serve as grounds for bringing a wrongful death suit.
It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between a wrongful death claim and a criminal homicide case. Wrongful death lawsuits are typically personal injury lawsuits where the at-fault party’s liability is established through financial compensation. This means that to prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit, the court would require the defendant to pay the deceased’s loved ones and survivors. In criminal homicide cases, convictions result in prison or jail time, fines paid to the state, or other penalties.
Should you and your loved ones choose to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit following the death of a loved one, it is crucial that Florida-specific requirements and rules are met. Although some states allow the deceased’s relatives or loved ones to file a wrongful death claim, Florida laws require a personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file the lawsuit instead. This individual, often called the “executor” of an estate, will represent the deceased’s estate and surviving family members. Thus, when they file the lawsuit, they must also list all of the intended beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries when filing the claim.
Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?
If you or someone you love was recently injured or killed in a Florida car accident, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada for assistance. Our lawyers fight tirelessly for the injured and will provide you with the support, knowledge and experience you need to pursue your legal claims effectively. To schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team today, contact us at 877-448-8585.