Traffic Tragedy and Florida Wrongful Death Law
It seems like the sad stories about preventable accidents are being reported all too frequently in recent weeks. For example, our Panama City wrongful death attorney was disheartened to read of The News Herald's report on a tragic traffic death on Monday. The Panama City traffic fatality occurred in the early morning hours on the Hathaway Bridge.
Ryan Ramsey was driving westbound on the bridge when his Mitsubishi Edge collided head-on with a GMC van driven eastbound by Margarito Aguirre Curiel. Ramsey, who called Panama City Beach home, died from collision-related injuries. Curiel's injuries were less severe, and he was treated and released from the hospital on Monday. The case remains under investigation but the police department has suggested that alcohol may have been involved.
While we cannot comment on fault in this specific tragedy, traffic deaths are all too common, and those who lose a relative in a Panama City traffic accident caused by another driver should consider whether a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate. A wrongful death suit is a civil claim brought by a personal representative on behalf of survivors and the victim's estate.
The survivors are defined by statute to include the victim's spouse, parents and children. Where other blood relatives, such as a sibling, were wholly dependent on the victim for financial support, those relatives can also be included in the wrongful death lawsuit.
No lawsuit can ever bring back a lost loved one, but courts in Florida can award financial compensation to the victim's survivors. A range of damages are available in a Panama City wrongful death lawsuit. The negligent party (or a relevant insurance company) may owe monetary damages covering direct financial losses stemming from the accident such as medical bills and funeral expenses.
Where appropriate, the survivors can also recover damages to reflect the loss of the victim's wages and financial contribution to the family. Courts can also award damages to compensate for non-financial losses, such as the loss of companionship and guidance as well as for the grief experienced. The exact nature of damages varies by relative and according to the victim's living situation.
While they are one of the most common events giving rise to a wrongful death suit, traffic accidents are just one situation that can lead to a civil suit. Other situations that may give rise to a wrongful death action include medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, exposure to a dangerous substance at home or work, or a criminal incident like an assault.
Our hearts go out to all of those involved in Panama City's latest traffic-related tragedy. If you have lost a loved one, please reach out to our Panama City accident lawyer to discuss whether a wrongful death action may be appropriate. We are proud to represent surviving victims with care and concern. We also hope survivors will reach out for counseling or other needed support in their time of need.