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Wrongful death in South Florida: issues of fault and liability

In yesterday's post we discussed the 10 South Floridians who died last weekend in six different fatal car accidents. Only one of the traffic accidents was a traditional car accident. All of the other accidents were varying types of pedestrian crashes. Pedestrian accidents are more likely to be fatal than car accidents because a pedestrian has little to protect him or herself from the force of a vehicle.

Two of this weekend's deadly accidents involved children who were hit by drivers. One14-year-old skater and a 5-year-old girl on a toy bike were hit by drivers near their homes. These accidents are typically attributable to distracted driving and speeding. Drivers who drive too fast in residential areas or drive while distracted by their phones are more likely to hit and kill local children.

Three of the other crashes from this weekend involved drivers who failed to maintain control of their vehicles. One churchgoer killed a fellow parishioner in Deerfield Beach when she accidentally put her car in reverse and ran into the sidewalk. Two people were killed in Homestead while changing a tire on the Turnpike when a car rammed into them, and a Boston tourist and her unborn child were killed in Fort Lauderdale as a result of a driver who crashed into a cabana.

Drunk driving is likely the cause of the fiery Gratigny Parkway accident involving a wrong-way driver. The early morning timing of the crash makes it highly probable that the wrong-way driver was intoxicated from St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

The type of lawsuit implicated in all of these crashes is called a "wrongful death" action. A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the surviving family members of a car or pedestrian accident against the driver whose negligence caused the death of their loved one.

It is important to remember that the driver who caused the accident does not need to be held criminally liable for an accident in order for a successful wrongful death lawsuit to be filed. Wrongful death claims can also be brought against the estate of a driver who dies in a car accident that he or she caused. Wrongful death litigation can be lengthy and complex, which is why it is important for families who lose loved ones in similar crashes to hire an experienced Miami personal injury law firm.

Source: The Miami Herald, "10 people killed in 24 hours in South Florida car accidents," Christina Veiga, Mar. 19, 2012

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