Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A jury has awarded $700 million to the parents of a Florida man who died after being beaten unconscious and then set on fire while still alive.

The jury reached its verdict earlier this month in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of the deceased, who was killed in June 2012 in Highlands County.

The verdict was against the two men who were convicted of their son’s murder in 2015.

Investigators said the men were at a party when one of the men punched the victim. The other man then beat the victim unconscious. The men set him on fire hours later when the victim was unconscious but still alive.

Collecting the award might be difficult as both men are serving two life sentences each on kidnapping and murder convictions.

While a typical wrongful death claim arises from negligence, or someone else’s failure to exercise appropriate care in a specific situation, it is possible for a claim to arise from an intentional act, such as murder. While the state of Florida will bring criminal charges against a person accused of murder for breaking the law, the victim’s family or a representative of the victim’s estate can file civil charges for wrongful death.

Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, an individual may bring a wrongful death claim if they are related to the deceased as a:

  • spouse
  • child
  • parent
  • dependent blood relatives
  • children born outside of wedlock of the mother or father 

In addition, Florida law mandates when wrongful death lawsuits must be filed by, which is called the statute of limitations. That time in Florida is two years from the date of death. In certain very specific cases, this time can be postponed. After the statute of limitations has expired, a suit can no longer be filed and all legal rights with respect to the filing of a wrongful death suit are extinguished. 

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of the victim, also known as the plaintiff, must prove that the defendant, the person accused of being responsible for the death in the lawsuit, actually caused the death in question through negligence or an intentional act. In this specific case, murder is the intentional act. Murder is defined as the intentional killing of another human being, so it does satisfy the legal definition of an “intentional tort.” The burden of proof for establishing responsibility for a wrongful death is much lower than what is required for proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a murder charge. So it is safe to assume that if a prosecutor successfuly convicts a person of murder, then the plaintiff in a subsequent wrongful death claim will have little to no trouble establishing the burden of proof in a civil wrongful death lawsuit.

The types of losses for which financial compensation is typically sought in a wrongful death lawsuit arising from a murder include loss of companionship, loss of income or support, and loss of consortium. Other types of losses for which compensation is awarded in a wrongful death case stemming from a murder include medical bills as well as funeral and burial expenses. A family member may also be able to obtain monetary compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress from the murder of a family member.

However, if a person is headed to prison, or already behind bars, they may not have the financial means to be able to pay the money owed that results from a wrongful death lawsuit. So, unless they have enough assets before entering prison, a wrongful death suit may not result in the financial compensation you deserve. When it comes to a wrongful death suit after such a heinous act as murder, most families are not as concerned with the money aspect of the ruling, but rather the message it sends to the resposible party (parties). 

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Florida’s new distracted driving law, or texting while driving, goes into effect July 1, and law enforcement agencies across the state are preparing for how they will enforce it.

As far as enforcing the rule, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokesperson said it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

The Sheriff’s Office said texting violations will be treated like any other primary offense traffic violation.

Deputies expect challenges from drivers trying to find loopholes around getting a citation, because they exist.

According to officials, drivers can still use their GPS, look at weather or traffic alerts, or call in an emergency.

Traffic judges might see more work as a result.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said their enforcement will go through an education period. They’ll give out a warning the first time.

But drivers better make changes, because getting pulled over multiple times for texting while driving will end up in a ticket.

A hands-free requirement while driving in school and work zones goes into effect in October.

Citations will not be handed out for this violation until January 1, 2020.

This new law that makes texting while driving a primary offense as opposed to a secondary offense is meant to curb dangerous and deadly behavior while behind the wheel. Distracted driving accounts for more teen deaths than drunk driving, and kills 9 people of all ages every day across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Car crashes in Florida rose by 11 percent from 2013 to 2016, but collisions caused by problems stemming from distracted driving, like drifting out of a lane, sideswiping another car or simply blowing through a stop sign, increased by 40-50 percent.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate your crash thoroughly and determine if the other driver involved in your accident was using their cellphone or otherwise driving while distracted. We will use this evidence to establish that the other driver was indeed at fault, which may result in a more favorable outcome when pursuing financial compensation.

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The parents of a 2-year-old boy who drowned in a Baker County retention pond in April are suing the owner of the property, claiming he failed to install fencing that might have protected their son.

The toddler was found in the pond April 23 after he wandered away from the apartment where he was being watched by his 18-year-old sister while their parents were at work. A neighbor tried to revive the little boy with CPR, but he died at Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny.

The boy died days before his 3rd birthday.

According to court documents, the property owner did not have proper fencing as required by building permits.

The property owner applied Jan. 13, 2016, to the St. Johns River Water Management District for a permit for construction of the retention pond to be used for stormwater treatment, court documents show.

The plans for the retention pond were part of a nearly four-acre storage facility.

Plans submitted to the district detailed the construction of a 6-foot fence with a self-latching gate. A permit for construction was issued two weeks later on Jan. 27, 2016.

The man subsequently built the retention pond, which was completed in March 2017. However, the property owner did not install the fence as detailed in the construction plans, according to reports.

Children are attracted to water placing them at a greater risk of being involved in a drowning or near-drowning incident. Due to this, the law recognizes additional duties that owners of ponds, pools, hot tubs, and other bodies of water must take to protect children. Private property owners as well as public entities that do not take these precautions can be liable for a child’s injuries or death that occur on the property.

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A 25-year-old Jacksonville man died late Tuesday night in an ATV crash in Clay County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Troopers said the man and a 21-year-old Middleburg man were riding an ATV south on Beecher Lane in Orange Park when the vehicle flipped at Crossing Boulevard.

Both men were thrown from the ATV, and the 25-year-old died at the scene from his injuries, troopers said.

The other man on the ATV was seriously injured and was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, troopers said.

It’s unclear which of the men was driving the ATV at the time or why the vehicle overturned.

Charges could be issued pending the outcome of the investigation, according to the report.

Troopers said neither man was wearing a helmet.

ATV’s can now exceed speeds of 60 mph, so they can be extremely dangerous when not operated carefully or correctly. When racing up steep hills or turning at high speeds, ATVs have a tendency to roll over. These vehicles lack the protection of walls or a roof, so drivers can easily be crushed underneath the rolling vehicle.

If you or your loved one has been involved in an ATV accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Usually, these collisions are the result of poor weather conditions or human error, but sometimes they can happen because of manufacturing flaws.

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A woman was fatally shot in the parking lot of a Home Depot on Sunday around 9:15 p.m.

When deputies arrived they found a woman suffering from a single gunshot wound.

She was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before 7 p.m. Monday.

Investigators believe the shooting was drug-related. No arrests have been made and the Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the shooting to call homicide detectives at (813) 247-8200.

A number of factors can make a property unsafe. A lack of security guards, broken cameras, and poor lighting are just a few things can make a property dangerous and more susceptible to a crime.

If you or a loved one is the victim of a crime on someone else’s property, including parking lots, you may have a negligent security claim, and you may be entitled to financial compensation from the property owner, property management company or security company. When crimes occur in shopping centers, parking lots, apartment complexes, hotels, bars, etc, property managers and security companies can be held accountable if they fail to provide reasonable safety and a guest is attacked or killed.

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A woman who was driving without a valid license is accused of fatally hitting a 13-year-old girl Wednesday morning as the teen was riding her bike to school.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 25-year-old woman from Argentina who had been staying in the Kissimmee area.

According to deputies, the woman was driving a minivan around 7:50 a.m. Wednesday when she struck the 13-year-old student in the Poinciana/Kissimmee area.

The eighth grader was on her way to Lake Marion Creek Middle School when she was hit. The child was airlifted to Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, where she later died.

The man told deputies she has been in the U.S. on a “visitor pass” since October of 2018. She presented an Argentinian identification card to investigators.

Deputies said condensation covered approximately 80% of the woman’s windshield at the time of the crash, obstructing her view.

She has been charged with operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license causing death, a third-degree felony.

If your son or daughter has been killed in a pedestrian or bike accident, this is a tragic time for your family. It is important that you do not accept an insurance company settlement as compensation for your loss without consulting our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. A sudden death in a family can take its toll not only emotionally, but also financially. Not only are family members grieving an irreparable loss, but they are also struggling to deal with medical expenses and funeral and burial costs, which can add up quickly.

The insurance company does not care about your family’s welfare or your losses. Their goal is to offer you the least amount of financial compensation possible so they can get rid of your claim quickly. During such a challenging time, you need our Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys on your side as we have successfully handled numerous fatal pedestrian accident cases.

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Two people died after a charter bus that departed from from Orlando overturned on Interstate 95 in Virginia.

The Tao’s Travel Inc. bus traveling from Florida to New York had 57 people aboard when it rolled and ran off the left side of an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Prince George County about 5:22 a.m., according to authorities.

One person died at the scene, while another person died a couple of hours later.

The bus driver has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the crash.

The bus departed from Orlando, Florida, and stopped in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to switch drivers, police said. It was headed to New York City when it crashed.

Bus travel is a very popular mode of transportation. However, buses can pose a serious danger to passengers if they are not operated by trained, attentive employees and if the equipment is not properly maintained. If you have been involved in an accident with a charter bus, it is important to contact our Florida Injury & Wrongful Death Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible.

Similar to truck drivers, bus drivers must have proper background checks and receive adequate training to provide safe travels for passengers. Many bus accidents are attributed to unsafe driver conditions, such as:

Driver negligence

  • Poor bus security
  • Operating on dangerous roads and interstates
  • Operating during dangerous weather conditions
  • Driving drunk or drugged
  • Fatigued driving
  • Inadequate maintenance of the bus and its equipment

When someone you love is injured or killed in an unexpected bus accident, you may be in shock and unsure of what to do next. You or your loved one may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages resulting from the bus accident. When death occurs, the responsible driver may also face criminal charges for wrongful death.

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Longtime Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a man along an interstate highway late Wednesday night as he tried to avoid hitting the man’s disabled vehicle, according to police.

Syracuse believe the 51-year-old deceased man was an occupant in a black Dodge Charger with three others when they apparently lost control on a patch of ice and hit a guardrail before midnight Wednesday on I-690 in Syracuse.

Boeheim struck the man with his GMC Acadia while trying to avoid the disabled car, which was resting perpendicular on the darkened highway. The group had been heading toward the median for safety. The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Another man in the group suffered minor injuries in the accident, police said.

Police said Boeheim has been cooperating with the investigation. He even used his cellphone light to warn other drivers of the disabled car after the accident, police said.

Police said sobriety tests administered to Boeheim and the unidentified driver of the other vehicle were negative for any signs of impairment.

No tickets have been issued to Boeheim at this time and the investigation is continuing. Police did say that they do not believe criminal charges would be filed.

When it comes to pedestrian accidents, many drivers will attempt to blame the accident on the pedestrian to avoid legal liability. Sadly, pedestrians involved in car accidents can suffer from the following:

  • Severe head trauma
  • Brain damage
  • Leg injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia
  • Amputations
  • Disfigurement
  • Death

At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Attorneys will conduct a thorough accident investigation to determine who exactly is to blame. The smallest details may become the evidence needed to prove speed or driver inattention caused the crash, even when the driver states otherwise.

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Seven former employees, including a nurse practitioner, have been indicted after prosecutors say conditions at an Ohio nursing home got so bad that one patient “rotted to death.”

The contracted nurse practitioner and two workers are being charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly neglecting two patients, according to reports, which says the four other employees are accused of neglect or falsifying patient care records.

The group worked at a care center in Columbus.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, nurses failed to properly care for a male patient who died of septic shock after his wounds led to gangrenous and necrotic tissue in 2017.

According to reports, an attorney for the nursing facility said all the employees involved were fired two years ago.

Making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult one. Selecting the right home can be a stressful and emotional process. Regardless of how much research and thought is put in to choosing the right facility, you may end up with a facility that fails to provide quality care and treatment.

Too many Florida nursing home residents are victims of neglect and/or abuse. The result of this abusive treatment can be devastating to family members. That is why our Florida Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help loved ones of nursing home abuse and neglect discover what they can do to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

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Officials say a worker doing construction on central Florida’s massive highway expansion project was killed after being struck by a drainage pipe.

According to the Orange County Fire Rescue, the worker was struck by a 20-foot iron pipe on Monday.

Workers were moving the pipe when it fell and hit the worker in the head along Interstate 4 near Winter Park, Florida.

The sheriff’s office is investigating.

If you have lost a loved one in a construction accident that could have been prevented, you may have a wrongful death claim. After a construction accident results in injury or death, it is important to investigate the site in the same condition as it was when the accident occurred. Construction sites are constantly changing, and owners may attempt to cover up a dangerous situation that caused the accident, or it could be fixed as part of the construction job.

Losing a loved one in a construction accident could entitle you to financial compensation for damages. Our Florida Workers Compensation Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can review the facts of your case and determine what steps to take next. We work on a contingency fee basis, so we don’t get paid unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds made on your behalf.

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