Thousands of people get hurt at no or partial fault of their own. Personal injuries happen every day, and they can leave people in financial trouble with bills and lost income. However, some accidents cause severe injuries. The damage can result in one or more fatalities.
In Florida, fatal accidents can cover a wide variety of situations. Causes can range from speeding to incorrect medical decisions. If a loved one was in a fatal accident, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit.
Some family members can feel confused about how to proceed if they want to seek justice. Continue reading to learn more about the types of fatal accidents in Florida.
What Are the Types of Fatal Accidents?
Fatal accidents can come in various forms, and they involve the negligent actions of another party. People can experience different types of incidents, and a few of them are common. One type of fatal accident is a vehicle collision. Vehicle collisions can include cars, trucks, and SUVs. A person might get into a motorcycle accident as well.
A vehicle can hit pedestrians for many reasons. The driver is the careless party in most cases. Medical malpractice frequently occurs, and the incident could be at a hospital or private practice. Fatal medical errors can come in numerous forms.
A fatal injury can occur in the workplace. Some jobs have more occupational hazards compared to others. Companies must ensure employees remain safe. Another common type of fatal accident is a defective product. A manufacturer may not have designed a product well or they may have cut corners.
Fatal Accident Statistics in Florida
In the United States, thousands of fatal accidents occur every year. However, the reported number for each state can vary. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Florida sees around 2,950 fatal car collisions. Trucks, cars, SUVs, and motorcycles tend to make up many of the reported incidents.
Of the deaths, 31 percent involve car occupants. About 19 percent are motorcyclists, and 22 percent are pedestrians. Bicyclists make up a small portion of cases. Half of the fatal vehicle accidents involve a single vehicle—perhaps those cars collided with pedestrians, animals, or trees. The other half of the accidents involved multiple vehicles.
For fatal workplace injuries, Florida experiences over 300 incidents a year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports how most cases are of people in wage and salary jobs. A small percentage consists of self-employed people. Sixty-nine fatal slip and fall accidents happened in the workplace.
Who Is More at Risk of a Fatal Accident?
Anyone can get into a fatal accident, but some groups are more at risk than others. Men make up 91 percent of work-related fatalities, and most injuries occurred among employees between the ages of 25 and 54. People in wage or salary jobs have a higher chance of a fatal workplace accident compared to self-employed workers.
Among previous pedestrian accidents, men have made up a majority of cases. They might have been more likely to get severely injured due to risky behaviors. The Centers for Disease Control states how older adults over the age of 65 are more at risk. They account for 20 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents. One in 15 children experiences fatal injuries as well.
In fatal medical malpractice cases, older adults are more vulnerable. They often develop health conditions related to age. The complex medical issues mean older adults require various treatments. The number of hospital visits could increase the chances of medical malpractice.
Older adults usually have difficulty with recovery. Many of them require medication, and errors tend to occur frequently in older age groups.
Common Causes of Fatal Accidents
Fatal vehicle accidents, truck accidents, and pedestrian accidents share similar common causes.
Some of them include:
- Distracted driving. The use of a cell phone can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road. Other vehicle occupants or the radio can divert their attention. The motorist might not see the pedestrian or other vehicle in time.
- Nighttime. When the sun goes down, drivers have less visibility. They might have a hard time seeing other cars, people, or objects, even with headlights. Some areas do not have proper street lighting during dark hours, and some pedestrians might wear darker clothing.
- Harsh Weather. Weather conditions like heavy rain and hail can reduce visibility as well. Windshield wipers may help, but a motorist might not see another car move in front of them.
- Alcohol use. Alcohol can impair a person’s reasoning and response time. Hundreds of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08 get into a fatal accident. Many pedestrians obtained severe injuries after walking onto the road while intoxicated.
- Speeding. Speeding is a traffic violation, and some places deem the action as reckless driving. Fast-traveling vehicles have a longer stopping distance. If a person or car suddenly moves in front of the driver, they may not stop in time.
A person could suffer fatal injuries if they do not use a seat belt. Car collisions may happen because the driver was exhausted or drove an unsafe vehicle. Pedestrians run the risk of a fatal accident if the motorist fails to stop or yield at an intersection or stop sign.
At the workplace, a fatal accident may happen because of a slippery floor. An unsafe ladder or scaffolding could cause a worker to fall. Dangerous machinery and exposure to electricity also are contributing factors.
A fatal accident from medical malpractice can be due to a misdiagnosis or anesthesia errors. The doctor may have chosen the wrong treatment or made a mistake during a surgical procedure. A medication error may lead to a fatal medical malpractice accident.
In a defective product case, a malfunctioning auto part could lead to a fatal injury. For example, the car’s brakes or airbag might not work as intended. Of course, kitchen appliances and medical devices could also be defective.
Where Do Fatal Accidents Often Occur in Florida?
A fatal accident can happen anywhere at any time due to someone else’s negligence. Some places in Florida may see higher rates than others. Workplace incidents are more likely to arise at jobs where workers perform risky behaviors.
The behaviors may include the operation of heavy machines, heavy lifting, and handling hazardous materials. Someone could get injured when they travel for work as well.
Most vehicle accidents happen in urban areas. Cities have a lot more traffic compared to rural and suburban towns. More cars on the road increase the chances of a fatal collision. Of course, highways and intersections are common areas of a vehicle crash. Research has shown how plenty of people are fatally injured within 10 miles of their homes.
Fatal pedestrian accidents can happen in cities and intersections as well. However, the National Safety Council shows how 73 percent of reported cases take place on the open road. Many people do not use a designated intersection to cross the street. Depending on the circumstances, a vehicle could go off the road and hit someone on the sidewalk.
What to Do if a Loved One Died in an Accident
If a person experiences a fatal accident because of negligence, a surviving family member might wonder what they could do. Commonly, people would pursue a wrongful death claim. In Florida, you would have two years after the accident to establish a lawsuit to seek justice.
Florida’s wrongful death laws allow a personal representative of the victim’s estate to begin the process on behalf of the family. The rules restrict the representative role to close family members. A parent, spouse, children, or other dependents can file a claim. Complex legal issues can arise, so you should consult a lawyer for help.
Surviving family members can recover certain damages in a case of a fatal accident. The cost of the funeral and medical expenses can influence the value of a claim. A victim’s family could receive reimbursement for the loss of the deceased person’s support and services.
Other damages include mental pain and suffering, loss of the deceased person’s companionship, and lost wages. The victim’s income, age, and age of any dependents factor in the amount of a settlement as well.
Many cases end in a settlement instead of a trial, and the awarded damages vary in each lawsuit. The value of a wrongful death case is usually higher than the average personal injury lawsuit. While no value can easily get placed on a life, compensation can help family members financially.
How to Prove Negligence in a Fatal Accident Case
To win a negligence fatal accident claim, you would need to prove multiple factors. You would need to prove that the defendant acted recklessly. You need to show how the defendant owed a duty of care to your loved one. The next element of negligence is a breach of duty of care.
Perhaps, the manufacturer did not provide clear safety instructions. A driver did not obey traffic laws and failed to meet their duty of care. The plaintiff has to demonstrate how another reasonable person would have been careful under the same circumstances.
The last element you would need to prove is how the defendant’s actions directly caused fatal injuries. A defective auto part may have led to the accident instead of the other driver speeding. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. The victim’s representative would need to collect various pieces of evidence to show negligence.
The evidence should have quality and credibility. You would need to get the statements from any witnesses, the police reports, photos of the accident, and medical reports. An attorney can help you figure out what evidence would benefit your case the most.
You should collect evidence early on, since it could fade over time. For example, the accident scene will get cleaned up quickly. Witnesses are more likely to misremember specific aspects over time. They might not be reliable later on.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against the City?
In some cases, an individual is not negligent for a fatal accident. Someone might hold the city or town responsible instead. The incident could have happened in a municipal building or involved a city bus.
Florida Statutes allow residents to hold the government responsible in certain situations. You could file a lawsuit against the city if the fatal accident was due to carelessness or wrongful act.
However, a victim’s family cannot hold a government employee responsible. The exception is if the employee acted intentionally. You would file a claim against the agency the person works for instead. You would need to follow certain processes to seek compensation.
For example, you have to put the government on notice of the claim. Of course, the notice should be in writing, and it covers details about the accident. Plenty of counties and municipalities have information on their websites. Of course, a lawyer can help you with the process of seeking compensation from a city or town.
How Does the Settlement Get Paid Out?
A fatal accident case could take months or years to complete. As mentioned previously, most cases end in a settlement. While negotiations may take a while, you can get a step closer to compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Once both parties settle, you could get the payout in one of two ways.
You could get the money all at once in a lump sum. Alternatively, you may receive ongoing payments in a structured settlement. Each one has its benefits, and the form of payment generally depends on what the at-fault party decides.
An individual might choose a structured settlement, but a large company is likely to go with a lump sum. The money typically goes to the attorney first. The lawyer would deduct any costs and fees before they distribute to the surviving family members.
Since the money would count as compensatory damages, the IRS usually does not tax it. However, taxes may occur in specific parts of the settlement. For example, they may apply to the money during the probate process.
Contact a personal injury attorney today to discuss your legal options.