Few things in life are as difficult as losing a loved one in an accident. In addition to the emotional devastation, most fatal car accidents don't qualify as criminal incidents, so the victim's survivors may feel like the responsible party has escaped justice. You can never truly be made whole for the loss of a family member, but you can receive compensation for their medical bills, funeral expenses, and the tremendous pain and suffering that you're experiencing.
South Florida injury attorney Justin Weinstein of the Weinstein Legal Team has dedicated his career to bringing justice to accident victims and their families. Weinstein Legal handles wrongful death and other personal injury cases on a contingency basis, so while you're grieving and working on rebuilding your life, attorney Weinstein is pursuing compensation from the responsible party. Call today to speak with a lawyer at Weinstein Legal free of charge.
Most Common Fatal Car Accidents
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there were 3,332 fatalities resulting from 3,098 crashes in the state of Florida. Of those deaths, 13.6% — nearly one in seven — occurred in Palm Beach or Broward.
The following are the most common causes of fatal car accidents in the state of Florida according to the most recent FLHSMV collected data (2017):
- Operating a Motor Vehicle in a Careless or Reckless Manner – This accounted for 765 of the approximate 3,000 deaths in 2017.
- Failure to Yield the Right of Way – 559 motor vehicle deaths resulted from accidents caused by right-of-way violations.
- Failure to Maintain the Proper Lane – 205 deaths resulted from improper lane changes.
- Running Off the Roadway – This accounted for 167 deaths in 2017.
- Pedestrian Deaths – 564 pedestrians died as a result of car crashes in 2017.
While the following factors were not necessarily the cause of the accident, they contributed to the danger that caused the fatal accidents. For instance, 861 fatal accidents occurred at intersections, and 234 accidents were categorized as “Driver Distracted.” In 651 of the deaths, the occupant who died was unbelted.
Elements for a Successful Wrongful Death Case
It's an unfortunate reality that not all fatal accidents are actionable. In order for an auto accident lawyer to prove their case, they must demonstrate that the following elements are met:
1. Duty of Care
Every driver on the road has a duty of care to the occupants of their own vehicle and every other person driving or walking on that roadway. That means that they must be attentive while driving and obey all traffic laws.
2. Negligence (Breach of Duty of Care)
It's essential to demonstrate that the plaintiff was in some way negligent through carelessness or recklessness. This can be demonstrated by showing that the defendant violated a traffic law or that they failed to exercise the caution that other drivers in a similar situation would have.
Causation means that the defendant's breach of duty caused the accident that led to the wrongful death of the deceased. It's entirely possible that a violation of traffic laws did not cause the accident, but in a successful wrongful death action, the accident attorney must demonstrate that the defendant's behavior caused the accident and the death.
It's essential to establish a full accounting of the damages caused by the accident. Among other things, these include the cost of medical care, funeral expenses, property damage, future lost income, pain and suffering for both the deceased and the survivors, and future lost income.
Proving Liability for a Fatal Car Accident
Fatal auto accident cases can be extraordinarily complicated, and insurance companies have teams of accident attorneys to help minimize their liability. The attorneys at Weinstein Legal diligently pursue all evidence before pursuing a claim. This includes:
- A thorough review of police reports, hospital records, and the medical examiner's report if the death was unattended by a doctor.
- Deposing and analyzing the statements of all witnesses, including the investigating police officers and any EMTs who treated the deceased on scene.
- Reviewing and analyzing evidence with accident reconstruction experts and the legal team.
- A thorough deposition of the defendant and any other occupants from the defendant's vehicle.
Once the lawyers at Weinstein Legal have established liability and have calculated the amount of economic and non-economic damages the client is due, the lawyers will open settlement negotiations with the responsible insurers.
Recovering Compensation for a Fatal Car Accident
In order to recover damages in a wrongful death claim, you must have standing. The law attempts to block non-interested parties from profiting off of the tragic deaths of others. Family members usually can establish standing in the state of Florida, including spouses, minor children, adult children, parents, blood relatives, and adoptive relatives. A romantic partner may also be listed as a plaintiff if they were financially dependent on the deceased. However, the surviving family members are not able to file a lawsuit directly. A personal representative of the deceased's estate is responsible for filing, and they are also responsible for listing the individuals who have standing in the claim.
In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations is usually four years from the date of the accident, but in wrongful death lawsuits, it's two years from the date of death. It's essential that you don't delay. Wrongful death lawsuits require time and planning. Contact the legal team at Weinstein Legal today so that they can immediately begin working on your case.
Why Contact a Personal Injury Attorney?
Hiring a personal injury lawyer may be the last thing on your mind in the hours and days after the death of a loved one, but it's imperative that you do it as soon as you're able. Weinstein Legal knows the difficulty that you're going through. The legal team will begin gathering reports, taking statements, subpoenaing records, and more while you grieve the loss of your loved one. Ultimately, their goal is justice for the deceased and fair compensation for the survivors. The lawyers at Weinstein Legal work on a contingency basis, which means they only collect a fee if they win your case through a negotiated settlement or a court award. Call Weinstein Legal today to speak to an attorney.