Three people died on Thanksgiving evening as a result of yet another Tampa Bay wrong way car accident. According to reports, Justin B. Lakin, 21, of Bradenton was traveling northbound in the southbound center lane of Interstate 75 near Gibsonton Drive when he crashed into a Ford Focus. The man and woman inside the Ford Focus were identified as 24-year-old Lashay D. Waiters of Bradenton and 21-year-old Yvette R. Alexandre of Ruskin. Even more tragically, Yvette Alexandre and Lashay Waiters were engaged to be married and were expecting their first child.
Santini Law expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends affected by this horrible automobile accident.
Florida Wrongful Death Law in Tampa Bay Car Accidents
When a loved one has perished at the hands of another’s purposeful or negligent behavior, the loved one’s relatives may have the legal right to be compensated for their pain and suffering. Florida Statute section 768.19 allows the “estate” of the deceased person to bring a lawsuit when “a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act [or] negligence” of another.
Who is in charge of your deceased loved one’s “estate”? This is determined by a will, if the deceased had a will. If not, the Courts will determine who should be in charge of the estate. It is usually the closest relative of the deceased.
The Florida wrongful death statute contains the following elements. I will translate the legal terminology for easier reading. To start with, I’ll clarify that an “element” in a statute is something that must have happened in order for there to be a wrongful death lawsuit. In other words, all the bullet points below must have happened in order for one to even start a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida.
- Conduct that amounts to a wrongful act [or] negligence (translation: the person or company that you are suing did something that is objectively bad, whether it was on purpose or not. If the allegations are true here, driving the wrong way on the highway, whether it was purposeful or just because of distracted or drunk driving, is clearly wrongful or negligent)
- The conduct upon which the cause of action is based must have caused the death of the decedent (translation: the bad conduct actually caused the death. Here, again, if the allegations are true it is obvious that driving the wrong way and crashing into Yvette Alexandre and Lashay Waiters is what caused them to perish).
- Such conduct must have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued. (translation: this just means that if the deceased had survived the accident, they would have had the right to sue for their injuries. Here, if the allegations are true, Yvette Alexandre and Lashay Waiters would clearly have had the right to sue for their injuries if they had survived this terrible accident).
Wrongful death auto accident lawsuits are rarely so cut and dry as a wrong way accident. Often, car accident attorneys hire an expert called an accident reconstructionist (sort of like CSI for car accidents) to assess what really happened to determine if there was reckless driving, distracted driving, speeding, or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Sometimes accident fatality claims are caused not by other drivers, but by unsafe road conditions or construction on the roadway.
Santini Law offers free consultations to the loved ones of those have passed in car accidents or other types of accidents to determine if a wrongful death lawsuit is possible. Call or text our Riverview wrongful death lawyers today at 888-645-3055.
2 Florida Personal Injury Law And Practice West Florida Practice Series, 2017, Thomas Sawaya, pages 1081-1083