According to the Tampa Bay Times (April 19, 2013), a 16-year-old girl was killed Friday evening in a traffic crash on the bridge over Placido Bayou on 40th Avenue NE in St. Petersburg, Florida. “She was a passenger in a sport utility vehicle that crashed about 6:55 p.m., coming to rest atop a concrete barrier bordering the north sidewalk. The driver, also a 16-year-old girl, survived the accident, police said. Some said drivers are known to speed across the bridge, which connects to the Shore Acres neighborhood. A sign east of the bridge showed the speed limit as 30 mph.”
As a result of any accident where a minor, like the girl in this accident, or an adult is killed – the lawsuits are different than those where a living person is the claimant. A living person can bring the suit in her/his name on behalf of herself/himself. Lawsuits for deceased people, regardless of their age, require two claims: A wrongful death claim and a survival claim.
The wrongful death claim has these core elements which are set forth in the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. Some of these elements will vary depending on whether the decedent was a minor (the St. Petersburg bridge victim), whether she was married (for adults), whether her parents were alive and many other factors. A personal representative (usually an executor or administrator) has to be appointed by the local county to handle the estate.
The personal representative may sue for:
- All medical and funeral expenses paid by the personal representative or that are a charge against the estate.
- Loss of earnings from the date of the injury to the date of death of the decedent.
- Loss of the prospective net accumulations of an estate (this is the money the victim would have earned and saved if she/he had lived a normal life). This is easier to do for decedents with a work history but claims can still be brought and valued on behalf of minors.
The recovery for sums related to the accident is placed into the decedent’s estate and distributed through the decedent’s estate.
The survival action has these core elements which are also set forth in the Florida Wrongful Death Statute. The survivors are typically a spouse, any children and the parents of the person killed. Some of the elements that the survivors can claim are:
1. The loss of support and services the decedent would have provided to the survivor from the date of injury through the date of death and from the date of death through the time she normally would have lived. The factors in determining the amount of loss include:
- The relationship of the survivor to the decedent.
- The life expectancy of the decedent if the accident hadn’t happened.
- The life expectancy of the survivor(s).
- The amount the decedent would have reasonably given to the survivor.
2. A surviving spouse can also claim money for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and for mental pain and suffering (the spouse’s; not the decedent’s) from the date of the injury.
3. Minor children and adult children (if there is no surviving spouse) may also be allowed to claim loss of parental companionship and their own mental pain and suffering.
4. Parents may claim their own mental pain and suffering.
Why wrongful death and survival claims require legal assistance
These claims are very complicated. Even more so when minors, like the one in the accident in St. Petersburg, are involved. In order to pursue the wrongful death and survival claims a good lawyer/law firm is needed to:
- Make sure the proper claimants are identified.
- Make sure the proper defendants are identified.
- Make sure the proper claims are brought.
- Make sure the liability of the defendants is proven.
- Make sure the claims are properly valued.
- Make sure the right sums are awarded to the wrongful death claim and to the survival claim.
- Make sure all proper credits and interest charges and valuations are applied.
- Make sure all exceptions are considered.
- Make sure any additional issues are addressed – such as establishing trusts for minor survivors and any tax consequences.
How Can Brooks Law Group Help?
If anyone you know is a victim of an accident in which someone was killed or is near death, please let our Brooks Law Group help you get the recovery you deserve. During this difficult time we will help you receive the maximum compensation allowed by law and we will assist you through every step of the case. Our team of lawyers works with medical professionals, valuation experts, technical experts and other lawyers. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or a death please call us at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT (1-888-936-3264) or email us at: [email protected].