The holiday season is upon us with merriment all around and party invites starting to fill up our calendars. Unfortunately, this time of year also poses high risks of DUIs and car accidents caused by drivers who might have imbibed at holiday get-togethers.
Of course, DUI is just one cause of fatal car accidents in Florida. In other cases, the cause of the crash could require some investigation. Take the two fatal car accidents that happened in Osceola County earlier this month.
A Tale of Two Florida Car Crash Fatalities
Two fatal crashes took the lives of at least two people on the same night – and in the same county.
The first crash involved an SUV that sped away from a deputy patrol car. It is still unclear why the car sped away, but soon after it was involved in a rollover crash that ejected two people from the vehicle. At least one of the passengers was found dead.
The second crash involved a pedestrian who attempted to cross US-192 and Lake Shore West and was struck by a vehicle. Medical examiners pronounced the pedestrian dead at the scene.
Investigators have not announced the cause of these car crashes, though medical examiners have revealed that the two men in the first accident were not wearing seatbelts.
Fatal car accidents can cause massive amounts of grief and emotional distress, not to mention high bills for funeral expenses, loss of income, and other costs involved in losing a loved one. The families of victims can file a lawsuit for wrongful death in the state of Florida – but how does the court determine who should pay?
How Florida Determines Fault in Auto Accident Lawsuits
The following actions are just some examples of things that could cause injury or death in an auto accident:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Driving while distracted
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
- Driving without headlights on at night
- Failing to follow safety rules (running a red light, running a stop sign, etc.)
- Crossing the street in an undesignated area
Blame shouldn’t always be solely given to one party, but this poses a complex issue to victims who want to receive compensation for their injuries or loss. In some states, a victim who is found partially at fault for their injuries may not be able to receive any compensation at all.
Florida is different. Here, we distribute compensation based on comparative negligence laws. If you are found to be partially at fault for an auto accident that caused injury and damages, you will only receive a partial amount of the compensation you ask for when you file the lawsuit.
How does that work?
This amount is proportional to the amount of blame you receive for the accident. Let’s say you ask for $100,000 in damages, but you are found to be 30% at fault for the accident. A judge may block you from getting 30% of what you asked for, so that at the end of the trial, you would only receive $70,000 in compensation based on the entire $100,000 award.
Similar principles apply to a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased party is found to be at fault for the accident, beneficiaries may only receive a portion of the amount they ask for originally.
How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida
If you lost a loved one to a fatal car accident, you unfortunately have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive the compensation you deserve. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Florida is two years after the date of death.
Children, parents, and spouses may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their families.
When you initially file the lawsuit, you must determine a number that will cover all of the damages and compensation that you seek from the party who caused the accident. Damages are not just limited to medical bills, funeral expenses, and other monetary costs. Victims can also sue on the grounds of:
- Loss of present and future wages and benefits
- Loss of protection, guardianship, or companionship
- Pain and suffering
A skilled Florida personal injury lawyer can help you every step of the way, including helping you determine the amount of damages that you should ask for when you initially file the lawsuit.
Your attorney will also help you gather the information you need to prove that the defendant is at fault for your loved one’s death. You will have to gather evidence that proved that the defendant committed certain actions that contributed to your loved one’s death (i.e. speeding), and that the accident directly caused the damages that you are asking for.
Do not wait to get the compensation you deserve. Start building your case today.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.