Car Accident Fatalities

The sudden loss of a loved one in a crash is devastating. It’s often senseless, caused by a reckless or careless act. At Gerson & Schwartz, PA our law firm has handled auto, car and motor vehicle accident fatalities in nearly every imaginable scenario. Our law firm has also succeeded in cases where other well-known personal injury law firms have turned down. From defective tire accidents, fatal car accidents with drunk drivers, to routine car accidents due to speeding, and other careless and reckless acts of others. Unfortunately, family members in a car accident fatality have no chance to brace for the impact, either financially or emotionally. The decisions you make after a fatal car accident in Miami or any other area of South Florida may have a lasting impact on your family’s financial security.

It’s important that you make informed choices that will best preserve your right to recover necessary damages so you don’t become mired in debt. At Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., our Miami car accident lawyers have been victims and their families in fatal car crashes in Miami and South Florida for 46 years. Experience is paramount and important to ensuring your legal rights are protected. While the goal of civil litigation is to compensate and “make whole” those who have suffered an injustice, there is also an aspect of accountability for those responsible. For example, the bartender who served an underage patron who later got behind the wheel drunk won’t go to jail, but the establishment can be held civilly liable and compelled to pay substantial damages. That makes it less likely another family will endure the same heartache because that business – and others like it – will be more careful in the future to in prevent underage drinking.

More About Car Accident Fatalities in Florida

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) estimates there are approximately 375,000 traffic crashes a year, resulting in somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 deaths.

When your loved were involved in fatal car accident in Miami, a wrongful death lawsuit may allow you to recover damages from:

  • Negligent driver
  • Driver’s employer
  • Owner of motor vehicle
  • Parents of driver
  • Bar/ establishment that served alcohol to underage
  • Vehicle manufacturer/ mechanic
  • Government entity responsible for road design/ maintenance;
  • Private property owner/ controller who created a dangerous road condition.

In many cases following a fatal car accident, the insurer representing the at-fault driver will start to formulate its defense plan within hours. These firms are not concerned with your best interests or your family’s well-being. They are seeking to minimize their own financial responsibility. That’s why you need experienced lawyers on your side.

Florida Wrongful Death Car Accident Lawsuits

The sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one in a car accident is devastating. In Florida, car accidents fatalities are governed under Florida’s wrongful death statutes.

In an auto, car or motor vehicle accident collision, your attorney may file what’s known as a “personal injury” claim. This alleges defendant driver was negligent because he/she owed a duty of care but that a driver breached that duty and that breach resulted in injuries and damages.

When a motor vehicle collision results in death, the type of legal claim pursued is called “wrongful death.” claim. While some of the same principles apply in terms of proving negligence, there are some fundamental differences between wrongful death lawsuits compared to those for personal injury.

Florida Statute 768.16 – Florida Statute 768.26 are where we find Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. The legislative intent is to stipulate as a form of public policy that losses that result from wrongful death should be shifted from survivors to wrongdoers. This law stipulates who can recover damages, what constitutes a cause of action and what type of damages may be available.

One major difference between personal injury lawsuits under Florida law as opposed to a wrongful death claim is the statute of limitations, as outlined in Florida Statute 95.11.

  • Personal injury claims must be filed within four years of the date of the accident or incident.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits in Florida must be filed within two years of the date of death.

This much shorter timeline must be weighed in consideration of the fact that wrongful death lawsuits tend to be more complex. Retaining a reputable wrongful death lawyer in lawsuit has even less time to develop a case, which means promptly seeking legal counsel is imperative. Your attorney may want to:

  • Collect accident scene and police reports;
  • Reconstruct the crash scene;
  • Obtain photographs of the scene/ damages/ injuries;
  • Obtain/ view medical and autopsy records;
  • Question eyewitnesses;
  • Secure expert witnesses to help review the evidence;
  • Deal with insurance providers on your behalf.

In some of these matters, time is of the essence.

Who Can File a Claim in a Fatal Car Accident in Miami?

Florida Wrongful Death Act defines “survivors” as a decedent’s:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Blood relatives or adoptive brothers/ sisters partly or wholly dependent on decedent for support or services

In this case, spouses and minor children (defined as under 25) are given priority. Further, “support” is not just limited to financial contributions but can also mean in-kind contribution. In addition to monetary help, “services” could household tasks, chores, caring for another, or other regularly performed acts performed by decedent that on behalf of survivors.

These individuals have the right to sue, or what’s known as a “right of action,” when their loved one dies in a wrongful act / negligence which would have entitled the person who died the right to pursue a personal injury claim if they had not died.

What Damages Can be Claimed in a Deadly Crash Case?

All eligible beneficiaries in a wrongful death car accident case must be identified in the complaint, along with the damages sought.

Potential claims for damages include:

  • Loss of support and services. All survivors have the right to recover for the value of lost support and services from decedent. That includes whatever decedent’s probable net income would have been, with consideration for his or her life expectancy. Children’s period of minority, too, may be considered.
  • Loss of companionship/ mental pain and suffering. This is a right of action by car accident victim’s surviving spouse.
  • Loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance and for mental pain and suffering. This is a claim that can be made by decedent’s minor children.
  • Mental pain and suffering. This claim can be made by each parent of a minor child. Parents of adult children may also make such a claim if there aren’t any other survivors.
  • Medical/ funeral expenses.
  • Loss of earnings and loss of prospective net accumulations of decedent’s estate that could have reasonably been expected but for his or her death. This is available to recover by the personal representative of decedent’s estate, who will then distribute the sum to all beneficiaries accordingly.

Car accident lawyers in Miami know such claims may be filed against more than one defendant in a crash case. Ensuring all claims are properly stated and timely filed means working with a law firm that is both knowledgeable and well-resourced.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, please contact the Miami Car Accident Attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., for a free consultation by calling 305-371-6000 or using our online contact form.

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