Articles Posted in Fatal Car Accident

When thinking about liability in a drunk driving accident, it’s common to assume that the drunk driver is the only potentially liable party. However, there are various laws in place that allow accident victims to pursue a claim against other parties, such as bars and restaurants or manufacturers and distributors of a dangerous product that contributed to the accident.

1259-Blogimage-01-640x-432For example, recently, a federal judge issued an opinion in a case involving a fatal accident caused by a driver under the influence of Ultra Duster, a commonly-available inhalant most frequently used to clean electronics. According to the court’s opinion, a man purchased a can of Ultra Duster at Walmart. He inhaled the contents before getting behind the wheel. As he was driving, he lost control of the vehicle, hitting and killing two children and an adult.

While the victims’ families certainly had a potential case against the driver, in his case, the court was tasked with determining whether the distributor of Ultra Duster was also liable for the accident under a theory of strict product liability. Ultimately, the court held that, while the distributor placed the product into the stream of commerce, the connection between the company’s actions and the victims’ death amounted to “speculation.” Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s strict liability claims.

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Losing a loved one in a car accident can cause significant emotional and mental trauma. As such, surviving family members are often able to recover damages for their suffering and pain from the party responsible for the accident. Such compensation is calculated based on the life expectancy of the survivor, and if he or she dies prior to an award being issued, no damages will be awarded. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion, in which the court reduced a $5,000,000 damages award to $0 due to the death of the surviving heir prior to the judgment being made final. If you lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, you have the right to pursue compensation, and it is advisable to speak to a skillful Florida car accident attorney to assess your options.

The Procedural History

It is reported that the decedent died in a collision on a road that was next to the defendant travel center. The decedent’s estate then filed a lawsuit against the defendant pursuant to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act. A jury found in favor of the estate and awarded the decedent’s sole survivor $5,000,000 in damages for mental suffering and pain. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, but while that motion was pending, the surviving heir died. The court then denied the motion.

Allegedly, the defendant then moved for relief from the judgment, arguing that the damages should be reduced to $0 pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 768.24, which states that a survivor’s death prior to a final judgment must limit his or her recovery to lost services and support to the date of the survivor’s death. The court found that as the motion for a new trial was pending when the survivor died, the judgment was not yet final and granted the defendant’s motion. The estate then appealed. Continue reading

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