Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

wrongful_death_book-150x150In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities throughout the State of Florida, a car crash is just about something you see every day. With the growth of the State and more and more vehicles on the road, car crashes are a common occurrence.  Tragically, some of these car accidents result in the untimely and tragic death of a  child.  As passengers of a vehicle, children are almost never at fault for the crash taking place.  Certainly, the death of a child has a ripple effect through the parents, family, neighborhood, school and community.  Having attending a number of funerals involving a child, it is clear that no words or compensation for that matter can console a parent or family member who has lost a child due to the negligence driving of another person.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol reported a recent accident that tragically led to the death of two children and personal injuries of two other children.  It was reported that Symere Woolbright – age 5 – and Rickale Woolbright – age 10 – died as a result of this rear end crash.   See Children Killed in Jacksonville, Florida Crash – 2 Killed and 2 Injured
While some accidents may seem cut and dry as to fault or liability, there are a number of challenges and issues that go with the pursuit of a Florida Wrongful Death case on behalf of the parents of a child who dies as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  It is important to determine all applicable insurance policies that may provide coverage for the damages / losses as a result of the automobile accident.  Insurance companies do not always act in the best interest of the family of a deceased child.  The insurance company has a duty to act reasonably and timely.  If the insurance company fails to do so, the applicable insurance policy limits may be expanded to what is called extra-contractual compensation. It means that the insurance company may ultimately be pressured to pay out more than the applicable policy limits but only if it can be shown that the insurance company failed to act timely and reasonably.  To prove such conduct, documentation is vital.

Swimming-Pool-Liability-150x150Throughout the year, Florida has the distinction of being a state in which warm weather allows for swimming even through the Fall and Winter months. When a child dies as a result of a drowning incident, the death of a child has a ripple effect through the family and community.  According to statistics collated the Florida Department of Children and Families, 82 drowned in 2017 with another 56 who have drowned in 2018 as of this time. Children and adults, who happened to be strong swimmers, can still encounter trouble while swimming.  As such, it is important to have supervision and assistance nearby any time that a child or adult enters a pool. This is especially true for young children, toddlers, and infants who may lack these strong swimming skills or safety awareness.
We live in a world of constant and ongoing distractions in the form of our smart phones and tablets. In a way, our smart phones are making us a bit dumber and less aware of our surroundings. This often is the case when an adult is supposedly supervising a child.  With eyes fixated on the small screen of an iPhone or iPad, a small child may encounter trouble or danger in the form of any body of water including swimming pools, lakes, oceans, rivers, hot tubs, and even bath tubs.
A swimming pool related legal action requires the showing of four elements as follows:

Hazing-Fraternity-Sorority-150x150In the State of Florida, it is a crime for a person to haze another person.  It is not a defense to the action if the hazing, abuse, or pressure is connected to admission, entry, or membership into an organization, club, fraternity, or sorority.  It should be noted that the crime of hazing is different from a prior and element standpoint than a civil case on behalf of a victim subjected to hazing acts like physical abuse or drinking games that lead to serious injury or even death of the victim, pledge, or applicant.  With respect to a civi case involving negligence or abusive conduct, there are four elements to establish:

Duty;

Breach of Duty;

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/08/Day-Care-Center-Hot-Van.001-150x150.jpegIn Florida and other warm weather States, the same tragic story seems to be reported every Spring and Summer.  A child is left by a day care center in a van or bus and dies as a result of hyperthermia.  The name of the child is different but the story seems to be the same.  The child was forgotten in the van or bus because roll call was not properly taken and double checked. These “Hot Car” or “Hot Van” deaths are among the easiest to prevent.  It does not require the investment of millions, thousands, or even hundreds of dollars to prevent.  It only requires a pen, paper, and the attentiveness of one staff member to prevent these deaths from taking place.  While it may be tedious to check and double check when children get on and off of a day care center or school bus – the mundane and tedious work is well worth the fact that the lives of children can be saved with this due diligence.  The fact is the we live in a world of distractions and multiple responsibilities on the part of day care centers and child care centers.  However, the fact that there are distractions and multiple responsibilities are never ever an excuse or defense to leaving a child alone in a hot van, car, or school bus.
A recent death of a 3 year old child in the Orlando area is yet one of many deaths reported when roll call or a head count was not properly completed.  When the temperature outside is in the 80s or 90s, the temperature inside in the vehicle can be 40 to 50 degrees or even hotter inside the vehicle.   In just a few minutes, a small child can go from healthy to dead when left alone and unattended in a hot day care center van, bus, or vehicle.  It was reported that Myles Hill, a 3 year old girl, was left on a day care center vehicle operated by Little Miracles Academy.  Following the death of the child, criminal charges were filed in the form of aggravated manslaughter by the State Attorney’s office.  You can read more about this topic at  3 Year Old Child Dies in Orlando Florida – Day Care Center Hot Van Death. 
When a child dies as a result of the negligence of a day care center, child care provider, summer camp, school, or other third party, the parents can file a wrongful death case against the responsible party, individual, and business.  In Florida, wrongful death cases are governed by both case law and statutes as set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 768.

Swimming-Pool-Drowning-150x150In the State of Florida, warm weather allows for swimming and water related activities during most of the year. Of course, summer time is the most popular and populated swim period.  With hot weather in the summer, swimming can be a great way for children to play, relax, and have fun.  However, swimming related activities and locations can also be the site of a tragedy when a child dies as a result of a drowning.  Children are naturally curious. Furthermore, young children especially toddlers have very poor safety awareness.  Because of this, it is important that small children are properly supervised at all times and that swimming pools have proper barriers to the protection of toddlers and young children.
David Wolf, a partner with the law firm of Wood, Atter, & Wolf, P.A. is a child injury attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida who handles cases throughout the State of Florida. He is the author of 11 books including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know.  The book covers a number of topics including Homeowner’s Insurance, Swimming Pools, Water Parks, and Other Bodies of Water, Sports and Recreational Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
It is reported that drowning deaths among all age groups is the sixth leading cause of unintentional deaths.  For children 14 and under, drowning is reported as the second leading cause of unintentional deaths.  Despite the known dangers of swimming pools for children, there are still a number of deaths reported over the summer and other times of years of a small child wandering into a pool area and drowning.

Pedestrian-Triangle-Sign-150x150In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities, drivers should be on the look out for pedestrians and bicyclists especially those who are young children.  Drivers should slow down in school zones, residential areas, crosswalks, and anywhere else there may be a child pedestrian or child bicyclist.  It should be noted that Florida is a comparative fault state.  As such, the injured child and / or parents of an injured child can bring a legal action for personal injuries or wrongful death even if the child may have been partially at fault for the incident or accident.  It should also be noted that children under the age of 6 years old cannot be held to be negligent or at fault as a matter of law in the State of Florida.

A recent tragedy was reported in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was reported that a child was hit by a vehicle while attempting to cross a street with other children at the intersection of A1A and the Wonderwood Connector in Mayport – Jacksonville Florida.  It was reported by the local media that the driver continued through the intersection on a yellow light.  It was also reported that the child, who ultimately died as a result of the pedestrian – vehicle accident related personal injuries, was in the sixth grade. You can read more about this story at Boy Hit While Crossing the Street in Jacksonville, Florida (Mayport).

The wrongful death of a child has a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, school, and community.  It is heartbreaking for the parents and extended family.  It is extremely upsetting for the school.  It can be quite a bewildering experience to have a friend / classmate sit in front of a student one day and then never to return because of a tragic pedestrian accident.

Red Light Automobile Accident.001In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities, traffic signals serve an important purpose.  When drivers ignore traffic signals, serious automobile accidents can take place that cause horrific personal injuries and even the wrongful death of innocent drivers and passengers.  Section 316.075 (1) (c), Florida Statutes mandates that a driver facing a steady red signal (red traffic light) shall stop and remain stopped until a green light or green arrow is shown.  While this a fairly simple statute and rule of the road, it is quite amazing and disturbing how often this statute is violation.  This, in turn, can disrupt and even end the lives of others who are following the rules of the road and otherwise operating their motor vehicles in a safe and prudent manner.
It was recently reported that there was an automobile accident at the intersection of St. Johns Bluff and Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was reported by local media outlets and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that a woman driving a Nissan SUV ignored a red light and proceeded at a high rate of speed.  Thereafter the vehicle crossed over a median and crashed into a Honda vehicle and a commercial vehicle and another passenger vehicle. Tragically, a young man (Denny Grahovic), who was only 18 years old at the time of the crash, died as a result of the accident related personal injuries.  Two other Honda passengers, who were also teenagers, were transported to a local hospital with significant injuries.   See Crash Ends Life of One Teenager and Results in Serious Personal Injuries to Others in Jacksonville, Florida. 
Based on the facts reported, it does not appear that Denny Grahovic was negligent in any manner.  Since there was a death that resulted from this crash, JSO and possibly the Florida Highway Patrol will conduct a detailed traffic homicide investigation to determine the cause and preventability of the crash.

Car Crash and Florida Wrongful Death.001In Florida and other states, headlines are made when there is an automobile accident involving serious personal injuries or the death of a driver or passenger.  This is especially true when children and reengages are the unfortunate victims in a Florida Automobile Accident Crash.   The death of a teenager can have a ripple effect throughout the community.  In many instances, a school crisis team is put in place to provide some guidance and counseling to the other students at the school where the victim attended.  Certainly, the biggest loss is upon the parents.  It is unnatural in the scheme of things for a parent to suffer the loss of a child especially after putting in some many years of work and love to raise the child from an infant to a young adult.  When a teenager dies, so much of the promise that was there just disappears in a moment of time.  It is the moment of time in which another driver was speeding or otherwise not paying attention.  This momentarily lapse in good judgment and safe driving can and does often lead to serious personal injuries and the deaths of innocent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Just recently, an 18 year old died in an automobile accident which took place in St. Johns County – St. Augustine, Florida near the World Golf Village area.  It was reported by a number of media outlets that Griffin Moody, who had just graduated from Allen D. Nease High School in June 2016 died as a result of this 2 vehicle crash.  The crash occurred on Murabella Parkway according to the Florida Highway Patrol.  Griffin Moody was a passenger in a 2005 Ford Focus that was being driven by another teenager.  It was also reported that five other people suffered personal injuries in this crash.

Florida has statutes in place that set forth the rules of the road.  Generally, drivers should obey the posted speed limits and yield the right of way to drivers on the roadway.  A left hand turning vehicle should yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.   All drivers should maintain control of the respective vehicles and otherwise remain attentive to traffic conditions, road conditions, and weather conditions.  Each driver has a duty to avoid a crash when he or she has the ability to do so.   It should be noted that each Florida Automobile Accident should be evaluated based on its own facts and merits. When a persona dies as result of a Florida traffic crash, the local law enforcement department and / or Florida Highway Patrol will investigate and issue a Florida Homicide Traffic Report upon completion of the investigation.  It should noted that the results or conclusions of such a report are not binding per se on insurance companies or any further potential civil cases.

Florida Pool.001In Florida, it is common to see swimming pools in most neighborhood.  It is somewhat of a luxury to have a swimming pool right there in the back yard.  Swimming pools can add to the aesthetics of the house and surrounding.  Swimming pools can also provide for a great deal of fun and relaxation for adults and children alike.  Unfortunate and tragically, swimming pools are also the site of horrible tragedies that despite laws, common sense, and the general knowledge of other similar tragedies continue to take place.  It has been reported that Florida leads the nations in drowning for children under the age of 5 years old.  Florida has ranked second in drownings the age group of 1 to 14 years old.  Florida’s weather allows for swimming almost year round.  During Spring and Summer months, it is tragically predictable that additional drownings of small children will take place.
Florida has adopted a swimming pool act that applies to all homeowners with a swimming pool.  There must be a barrier that is at least 4 feet high on the outside.  There should not be any gaps, openings, or structural components that would allow a child to crawl or squeeze through the barrier or enclosure.  You can read more about these regulations at Section 515.29, Florida Statutes – Residential Swimming Pool Barrier Requirements.
Can a homeowner be held liable or responsible with a child neighbor or child visitor drowns in the swimming pool in Florida?  The answer to this question like most legal question is “It depends.”  If the homeowner failed to follow the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Act and these violations were the proximate cause of the drowning – then the homeowner may be held liable or responsible for the drowning.

Stop Sign Negligence.001A Stop Sign is posted due to he traffic pattern and flow in a particular geographic area. It should also be noted that there should not be any ambiguities or doubts as to the purpose and function of a Stop Sign. Furthermore, it is clear that once a driver stops at a Stop Sign – he or she should diligently be on the look out for other traffic and then take whatever time is necessary to safely proceed through the intersection at issue. In Florida and other States, many automobile accidents occur due to the failure to obey speed limits and traffic signage. There is also a significant problem with Distracted Driving due to mobile phone use, Web Browsing, and Text Messaging.  Many lives can be saved and many personal injuries due to Florida Automobile Accidents can be avoided by simply obeying and following the traffic signage like a Stop Sign and by being more attentive to traffic and weather conditions.

It was recently reported in Hastings, St. Johns County, Florida that four people were transported to a hospital.  The intial news and media reports indicated that a pick up truck driver ran a stop sign.  Due to fact that a death and serious personal injuries resulted from this Florida Automobile Accident, a full investigation including a Traffic Homicide Report will be completed by local law enforcement officials and / or the Florida Highway Patrol.   Certainly, any time that a person dies as a result of a Florida Automobile Accident – it is tragic.  Even more so if it is determined that that the automobile accident was avoidable with more attentive driving.  It should be noted that with more attentive driving and patience – many such Florida motor vehicle crashes can be avoided.

When there is a motor vehicle crash, the personal injury victims are faced with a number of challenges and issues.  It is important that the victims and families get support from their extended family, the neighborhood, churches and religious institutions, and others.  The injury victims and families certainly deserve compassion in this time of need following a horrific traffic crash. It is also important for the injury victims and families to have legal representation early on in the process.