A 36-year-old woman was recently killed when she lost control over her car and veered into the path of a Miami-Dade transit bus. According to reports, the woman was attempting to pass the car in front of her on Card Sound Road, a two-lane highway connecting Miami with the Florida Keys. She lost control and was unable to get out of the way of an oncoming transit bus.
The cause of the car crash is still under investigation. However, it is clear that the woman wasn’t wearing her seatbelt at the time of the collision. This could hurt her family’s ability to recover compensation if someone else contributed to the accident in some way.
Families of Accident Victims Can Pursue Compensation
In Florida, state law provides family members of deceased accident victims with the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit allows the family to receive compensation if a third party is responsible for the fatal accident.
In filing a wrongful death claim, the family must be able to prove that their loved one’s death was caused by the defendant’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract.”
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?
Not everyone has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Instead, Florida law reserves the right for spouses, children, and parents of the deceased accident victim. If the victim didn’t have a living spouse, child, or parent, the right is extended to blood relatives or adoptive siblings who are “partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services.”
What Can Families Recover From a Wrongful Death Claim?
Families can recover financial compensation for the loss of a loved one. With a successful wrongful death claim, a family can be compensated for:
- The value of lost support or services
- Loss of companionship and protection
- Mental pain and suffering
- Instruction and guidance, and
- Medical and funeral expenses.
The accident victim’s estate may also be entitled to compensation for additional damages, including lost wages and medical bills.
Fault of Victim Can Limit Success of Wrongful Death Claims
Florida is a comparative fault state. More than one person can be liable for an injury-causing accident. This includes victims who are injured or killed in the accident. Everyone who contributes to an accident shares some of the financial responsibility for damages. The more fault you share, the more of the financial responsibility you’ll shoulder.
Two things happen when a victim contributes to his or her own accident. First, they will be at least partly financially responsible for injuries and damages suffered by others in the accident. Second, their ability to recover compensation for their own injuries will be reduced.
The same is true if someone who is killed in an accident contributed to the crash or the extent of their injuries in some way.
Here, the accident victim was not wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. Even if she didn’t contribute to the accident in any other way, this factor alone could significantly reduce her family’s ability to recover compensation for her death. Why? Because not wearing a seat belt likely contributed to the extent of her injuries. Had she been wearing a seat belt, her injuries may not have been so severe. She may have even survived the crash. Her own negligence will significantly, or completely, limit the success of her family’s wrongful death lawsuit.