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Death of Plant City woman by alleged drunk driver raises threshold damages issue

Categories:Auto Accidents

On October 14, 2013, an Orlando man allegedly hit a Plant City woman’s Toyota Corolla while driving drunk.  According to the Tampa Tribune the 54-year-old man ran a red light while driving his pickup truck and hit the 52-year-old Plant City woman, who died at the scene.  The alleged drunk driver then tried to dispose of evidence by dumping beer cans on the side of the road.  A blood sample later taken show that the alleged drunk driver had a .11 blood alcohol level.

Such an accident, where the apparent negligence of the driver is relatively obvious, brings to mind what is allowed under Florida no-fault law when it comes to wrongful death damages.  Under no-fault law, a party’s general expenses due to an accident are covered by their own vehicle’s insurance.  In this case that would mean that expenses relating to the accident victim’s last medical bills, such as an ambulance trip, would be covered by her vehicle’s insurance.

In order to recover damages such as pain and suffering under Florida’s no-fault law, there is a certain threshold that must be met.  Under Florida’s law the injured party must have a permanent injury or scar or must have died as a result of the accident to recover pain and suffering or punitive damages.  In wrongful death cases such as this one, liability is usually pretty clear, especially since the driver of the other car is facing criminal charges for his role in the death of the Plant City woman for the alleged drunk driving.  In such cases, it is common for insurance companies not to litigate due to the clear negligence of the driver who was allegedly driving drunk.  This is especially true if the driver ends up being guilty, either by pleading guilty to the charges or by being found guilty by a judge or jury.

The amount of damages that the victim’s family can collect is limited, however, to what the liability coverage of the driver was.  In Florida the minimum that a driver must have on their vehicle is $10,000.  While this may be a good amount for pain and suffering damages in rather minor accidents, it is very low when it comes to paying for the losses a family suffers due to the death of a loved one.  While family members can still collect money from the driver of the other vehicle, collecting a judgment can be especially difficult if the other driver has minimum insurance and no assets, such as a house.

It is for this reason that it is essential to buy uninsured/underinsured coverage when you set up your own insurance.  Such coverage would kick in to protect your family in an accident that results in a serious, permanent injury or death.

If you or a family member died in a motor vehicle accident, it is very important to contact a lawyer right away.  There are many deadlines related to a wrongful death claim that could result in you losing your chance to collect the money that is owed to you.  Additionally, an attorney will help determine who is at fault and handle the claims to the insurance company.  Call the Brooks Law Group today at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT to schedule a free consultation so that you can collect what is owed to you.

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