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Florida Wrongful Death Act

Categories:Law in Florida

We are quickly approaching the holiday season and soon we will begin the year of 2015! As we move into the fall and winter let us take a look at our local and national statistics so we can arrive alive during the bustling season of fun. Our dedication to safety and knowledge will provide you with the information you need if you should become a survivor of a wrongful death vehicle accident. In this blog, I will go over the statistics of wrongful deaths caused by vehicle accidents, the statutes of the Wrongful Death Act of Florida as well as safety reminders.

Recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show certain trends about our our local car accident fatalities. These statistics cover passenger cars and light trucks, not semi-tractor trailers or motorcycles. The NHTSA states that Midnight to 3:00 am is the most dangerous time to drive, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. There are many factors that play key roles in the wrongful deaths of our greater Tampa Bay Area; such as the night life, shopping, and family activities. Here are some facts about our region:

-According to the NHTSA, Hillsborough County leads the Tampa Bay area in wrongful deaths by vehicle accidents; in 2012 there were 178 deaths and in 2011 there were 151. This means that over the past few years, Tampa averages 15 deaths per month on our roads.

-Manatee County has a significantly less amount of wrongful deaths; in 2012 there were 48 fatalities and in 2011, 40.

-Pinellas County, right in the middle of Manatee and Hillsborough, shows 99 wrongful deaths in 2012 and 112 in 2011.

-Finally, Polk County had a startling 88 fatalities on the road in 2012 and 92 in 2011, not far behind our urban neighbors.

It is no surprise that alcohol has a major hand in the wrongful deaths of our community; in 2010 a whopping 31% of vehicle fatalities were caused by alcohol-impaired driving. That number is outrageous -we all know better than to drink and drive.

In 2012 the Florida Wrongful Death Act was revised and here is what you need to know:

786.19 Right of Action. When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting felony.

This means that if you or someone you love were the victim of an accident resulting in death (wrongful death) by a vehicle, a product, or a person who was being negligent than you have the right to sue that wrongdoer for damages. Now, you may ask who is able to file suit?

Listed below are the continuing statutes as provided by the State of Florida to enable your understanding of who can file a Wrongful Death claim and what the law constitutes.

WRONGFUL DEATH ACT OF FLORIDA, 2012 VERSION:

(1)    “Survivors” means the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters. It includes the child born out of wedlock of a mother, but not the child born out of wedlock of the father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support.

(2) “Minor children” includes children under 25 years of age, notwithstanding the age of majority.

(3)  “Support” includes contributions in kind as well as money

(4)  “Services” means tasks, usually of a household nature, regularly performed by the decedent that will be a necessary expense to the survivors of the decedent. These services may vary according to the identity of the decedent and survivor and shall be determined under the particular facts of each case.

(5)  “Net accumulations” means the part of the decedent’s expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy. “Net business or salary income” is the part of the decedent’s probable gross income after taxes, excluding income from investments continuing beyond death that remains after deducting the decedent’s personal expenses and support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind.

The Tampa Bay area is a growing region full of nightlife, festivities, and tourists. We must all plan our family gatherings this holiday season with safety in mind. If you are travelling with young children please take your vehicle to your local fire station or police department for a car seat inspection. Please avoid driving during late hours when vehicle accidents resulting in death are 60% more likely. Make sure to bring an emergency pack with you, complete with a flashlight, first aid kit, and emergency roadside tools. Always wear your seat belt.

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