Articles Tagged with 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.

Cruise-Ship-Injuries-Blue-150x150Cruise ship companies like Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and other carriers market to and welcome children as guests on the ship for both short and long term trips.  As such, cruise ships should be constructed and maintained in a reasonable manner that under maritime law.  The cruise ship operator had a duty to remove or limit hazards and to put reasonable necessary safety measures for both children and adults.  All interior and exterior passageways should be constructed and maintained according to applicable ship, building, and safety codes.  When an adult or child is injured as a passenger on a cruise ship, the cruise ship line, company, or operator is not automatically or strictly liability. There must be a showing of fault or liability for the incident at issue. This is commonly referred to as negligence which requires the proof or showing of four elements to establish a legal case or claim:  Duty, Breach of Duty, Causation, and Damages.

It was recently reported by a number of media outlets that an eight year old girl who was a passenger on the ship – Glory – operated by Carnival Cruise Lines fell approximately 20 feet while inside the atrium area of the boat. It was reported that the medical team for the ship was soon thereafter on the scene to attend to the child. The incident took place while the ship was docked at the Port of Miami.  Since a serious injury occurred in the form of a death, there will be a full investigation by government authorities as well as an autopsy.  Concurrent or subsequent to the criminal investigation, there can also be an investigation by the family, private investigators, engineers, and, yes, a legal team hired by the family of the child.  Again, it should be noted that a cruise ship is not automatically liable for every single injury or death that occurs on a boat. Negligence or fault must be established to support a civil case or claim if one is pursued by the family of the child. You can read more about the Carnival Cruise Lines incident involving the 8 year old girl who fell at Girl as a Result of Fall at Port of Miami – Carnival Cruise Lines. 

It should be noted that cruise ship legal cases are much different than other types of injury cases like ones involving an automobile accident or a slip and fall while at a store or shopping center while on land.  The cruise line ticket can define and control time limits and court or forum choices for a legal case.  In addition, there are strict time limits by law for cruise ship / maritine cases.

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.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/07/Red-Vehicle.001-150x150.jpegIn the State of Florida, it is a crime to leave a child unattended in a vehicle that is turned off.  Pursuant to Section 316.6135, Florida Statutes, it is a misdemeanor to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes.  It is a felony if the child suffers significant bodily harm, permanent injury, or disfigurement as a result of being left unattended in the vehicle.  It is also a misdemeanor leaving a child unattended in a vehicle that is still running if the health of the child is put at risk OR the child appears to be in distress. 

The statute as it currently reads is a bit troublesome in that a child can suffer serious personal injuries or even death by being left in a hot car or day care center van in less than 15 minutes.  Some lawmakers in the State of Florida are pushing for changes to this legislation / Florida law to better protect children and to serve as a reminder to parents, guardians, caregivers, and day care centers to stop putting children at risk by leaving children in a vehicle.  

David Wolf – Personal Injury Attorney – is based in Jacksonville, Florida and handles child injury, automobile accident, day care center, and related 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 and the book titled Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. You can get these books for free by visiting the Personal Injury Book Section of the Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. Law Firm Website. 

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.

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 Bicycle Accident Injuries.001Florida is a state that is filled year round with bicycle rides and cyclists of all ages and skill levels.  During any given trip by a driver of a motor vehicle – long or short, there is a high probability that you will pass or see a bicyclist on or near the roadway. It is vital that all drivers slow down near bicyclists and treat each bicyclist with due respect.  Let’s face it – a bicyclist / bicycle is no match (weight, force, and speed) for any motor vehicle out on the roads.   Distracted driving is an ongoing problem in the State of Florida.  Drivers are unfortunately and tragically paying more attention to their phone, text messages, and e-mails than other drivers, pedestrians, and, yes, bicyclist on or near the roads, highways, and streets.
Florida has adopted a comparative fault set of laws applicable to automobile accidents, trucking accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.  In other words, in order to pursue a case for compensation for personal injuries, the injured bicyclist can be partially at fault for the accident or incident.  In representing an injured bicyclist, it is preferable if the driver is 100 % at fault; however, there may be circumstances where the bicyclist is partially at fault. There also can be situations in which two or more drivers may be at fault for a bicycle accident leading to personal injuries.
It should be noted that under Florida Statutes a bicyclist is given the same rights as a pedestrian under many situations.  As such, drivers should keep the law in mind as well the safety of all bicyclists and pedestrians in mind when operating a motor vehicle in the State of Florida.  It should also be noted that Florida has adopted a Dangerous Instrumentality Law as it applies to automobile accidents and bicycle accidents.  As such, the registered owner of a motor vehicle is liable for the negligence of a permissive driver even if the owner did nothing wrong OR was not even present at the time of the incident or crash leading to the personal injuries of the bicyclist.

blue and vibrant swimming poolside

In the State of Florida and across the nation, one of the leading causes of death for small children, and especially toddlers, is drowning. In Florida, there are private residential swimming pools, public swimming pools, and hotel/motel/resort swimming pools in just about every community. It is important for property owners, business owners, home owners, and government entity to properly safeguard the swimming pool and aquatic area for the protection of children. It is well known and expected that a child, especially one of tender years, under the age of 5 years old, to be curious and inquisitive about interesting areas and what is deemed under Florida Law to be an “attractive nuisance.”

Unfortunately and tragically, there are reports of drowning incidents every summer, spring and the rest of the year in Florida. Many such incidents are preventable with the proper implementation and maintenance of swimming pool fences and barriers, swimming pool alarms, proper adult supervision, proper lifesaving equipment, and the posting of trained and attentive life guards when appropriate. When a child suffers personal injury or dies as a result of a drowning incident there may be a case or claim to pursue on behalf of the child and the family. To establish a legal claim r case, there must be proof and evidence of the following four elements:

1. Duty;

 No Swimming.001During the past week, I have lectured and written on the issue of negligence, child injuries, and the unfortunate and tragic incident that took place at the Walt Disney World Resort – Orlando where a 2 year old child was attacked and ultimately drowned by an alligator.  It has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted in or near the area.  Some people, who I have spoken to, believe that this fact should then be a bar to recovery if there is a claim or case pursued by the parents of the child who died.  Florida is a state that has adopted a Comparative Fault system for the pursuit and trial of personal injury cases.  In other words, even if an injury victim is comparatively or partially at fault, there can still be a case pursued on behalf of the injury victim and / or the injury victim’s family.   It should also be noted that there are some special laws in place in Florida when a child is injured.  For instance, in the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault as a matter of law.  As such, a 2 year old cannot be comparatively at fault as a matter of law even though there were “No Swimming” signs that were posted.  However, a parent, as a third party of sorts, can be held liable, responsible, or partially at fault if the parent’s actions or inactions contributed in whole or part to the situation or incident taking place.
As for the Disney alligator attack, it has been reported that there were “No Swimming” signs posted.  The family of the 2 year old were from Nebraska and may not have been aware of the presence of alligators throughout the State of Florida in its rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, and lagoons.  Furthermore, the sign read “No Swimming”.   The reason for the posting of the sign could have included any of the following:
*There was no regular lifeguard in the area.