The type of compensation available in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit depends largely on the relationship a survivor had to a decedent. For example a survivor child can be compensated for loss of parental training and guidance, while a spouse can be compensated for loss of society and companionship.
This is in addition to economic damages awarded for things like medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages.
Another element that should be considered is whether decedent suffered physical or emotional pain prior to death. Like other elements of loss in a wrongful death case, proving this assertion can be legally complex. In some cases, it might require a medical expert witness, while in other situations, a lay witness’s testimony may be sufficient.
Our Fort Myers wrongful death attorneys do understand this is a painful subject for many family members to explore. However, this can be an important aspect of a civil case, and it’s important that defendant(s) be held fully accountable for the pain and suffering they caused.
State laws vary on the application of this element, but Florida recognize it as a compensable loss, and so too does New York, where the recent case of Rice v. Corasanti is unfolding. This was a horrible hit-and-run crash involving an impaired driver that claimed the life of an 18-year-old woman as she made her way home from work at a local pizza joint.
The case has made headlines not only for the fact that the woman sustained severe injuries of which she ultimately perished, but also because the driver was a prominent medical doctor in the region. The victim was reportedly riding her longboard home at the edge of the road when she was struck by a passing vehicle.
Prosecutors would later assert the doctor/driver was texting his then-mistress at the time of the crash. Additionally, it was alleged he was drunk and traveling 15 mph over the posted 35 mph speed limit. The impact of the crash sent the woman flying onto the hood of the car and then launched her more than 150 feet away, into a nearby front lawn.
The driver, who claimed he did not realize he’d struck anything, did not stop. He later turned himself in to authorities after noticing blood on his vehicle. The woman was found by a passerby and transported to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
He was ultimately acquitted of more serious charges, but was ordered to serve one year in jail for misdemeanor drunk driving.
At the civil trial, a key question has arisen regarding to what extent decedent was conscious of her injuries and/or felt pain and suffering. While a medical examiner indicated in a formal report the teen most likely died upon impact, the passerby who found the woman refutes this.
In her testimony, she has stated the young woman had a pulse when she was found. Further, she described the girl as having a look of fear and pain frozen on her face. However, this same witness conceded she told police immediately after they arrived that the woman wasn’t moving and there were “no signs of life in her expression.”
She told police she had comforted the woman, but was unsure whether she heard her. However, she would later say she comforted the woman because she seemed to be in fear, and would not have done so if she believed the teen was already deceased.
Her parents are seeking compensation for their daughter’s pre-death pain and suffering. They are also seeking compensation for their loss of companionship, as well as the assumption their daughter would have cared for them into their old age. This latter assertion is also one being challenged by the defense, who are introducing into evidence spotty child support payments by the father and other evidence challenging their closeness as a family.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Witness at Corasanti wrongful death trial says hit-run victim had pulse when found on lawn, Feb. 9, 2015, By Hames Staas, Buffalo News
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