Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
There is almost no protection for a motorcyclist when a larger vehicle strikes him or her. Since motorcycles are small and nimble, passenger car drivers and truckers do not always see them on the road. In 2012, Florida ranked third in the nation for the number of rider deaths. If you have lost a loved one because of a fatal accident caused by someone else’s carelessness, you may be coping with many layers of loss. The skilled motor vehicle collision lawyers at the Dean Law Firm in Ocala can evaluate whether you should bring a wrongful death or survival action.Wrongful Death and Survival Actions in Florida
The Wrongful Death Act controls most of these claims in state court. In Florida, this statute permits the bereaved relatives of a decedent to take legal action if he or she died due to careless or reckless conduct by another person or company. Only certain close family members can initiate a claim. In the case of an adult decedent, these are his or her spouse and minor children. When a child dies, his or her parents may file suit. Regardless of their relationship with the victim, survivors have to show that their loved one died due to the defendant's negligence, that they sustained actual losses from the death, and that they are entitled to sue under the statute.
In addition to the emotional burden, there may be many financial losses that arise because of a wrongful death. These can include medical expenses for treatment before the victim died, funeral and burial costs, and lost income and earning capacity. Forms of damages specific to the relationship between the victim and the survivor also may be available. A spouse, for example, can recover for the loss of companionship and protection. Minor children can seek compensation for lost parental companionship and instruction.
A jury will consider the age, life expectancy, health, and personality of the victim in evaluating a compensation award, as well as the strength of the relationship between the decedent and the people bringing the lawsuit. For example, if a deceased motorcyclist was a father devoted to his young children, a substantial compensation award may be granted because of the children's loss of parental guidance. However, if the decedent was a gambler who did not spend much money or time on his children, this may reduce the recovery. It may be necessary to retain an expert economist to testify as to the value of the decedent's services to his or her family. Making an estimate based merely on salary may be misleading, since people often contribute to their household in ways that are hard to quantify.
Although punitive damages are rarely awarded in connection with motorcycle accident lawsuits, they may be appropriate in addition to compensatory damages if there was egregious or malicious misconduct by the defendant. They serve to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.Seek Counsel from an Ocala Lawyer After a Motorcycle Crash
At the Dean Law Firm, our motorcycle crash attorneys help grieving families in Ocala who have suffered a personal loss because of a driver’s negligence. We understand the emotional and financial toll that may be exacted by these tragic events. Call us at 352-387-8700 or contact us via our online form. We represent personal injury victims throughout Florida, including in Crystal River and The Villages as well as in Lake, Citrus, Marion, Sumter, and Levy Counties.