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Posts Tagged "wrongful death"

Did Defective Road Contribute To Tragic Car Crash In Bithlo/Christmas?

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in Motor vehicle accidents, Wrongful Death Claims

Did Defective Road Contribute To Tragic Car Crash In Bithlo/Christmas?

Many of us here in Winter Park — and especially those of us who are parents of recent and current Winter Park High School students — were shocked and saddened to learn of a tragic car accident that happened a couple of nights ago out in the Bithlo/ Christmas area. The one-car crash killed Thomas Stutts and Justin Vail, and injured Omokolap Hunpatin, after the SUV they were traveling in left the roadway of Fort Christmas Road, crashed through a fence, and into a tree. The coverage that I saw was from the good folks at WESH.com (who I think always do a great job on local reporting.) As an attorney who has handled car accident and wrongful death cases for a long time, a couple of things struck me about the story. First, I was shocked at the destruction to the SUV that these young men had been driving in. I was, frankly, surprised that anyone could have survived this crash. I was not surprised to hear from the Florida Highway Patrol that speed may have been a factor in the crash. However, my interest really perked up when the WESH reporter started interviewing neighbors, who reported that horrible accidents (many of them involving fatalities) happen along that seemingly quiet road all the time. Video captured for the story showed multiple crosses and other memorials laid out beside Fort Christmas Road where other fatal crashes have presumably occurred. Normally, a governmental entity cannot be held responsible for planning-level decisions — such the decision to build a road, or where the road will travel, or where to put a stop sign. However, when it becomes apparent that something about the design of the road contains some kind of defect or makes for a dangerous condition, then a governmental entity can be held responsible for damages for personal injuries or wrongful death. When I hear about multiple deaths on the same stretch of road over a period of time, I start to wonder whether we have a defective road.  I become suspicious that perhaps the County, or State, or whichever entity built that road, could have done more to make it safer – like perhaps installed barriers on the edge of the roadway, or speed humps, or some other similar seemingly simple remedy that might have saved these young men’s precious lives. If you have any questions regarding a Florida car accident or wrongful death case, please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901 for a free, no obligation strategy session, or download their free, information-packed Florida car accident guide by clicking...

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Money Damages Are Sometimes Only Justice Available

Posted by on Jan 11, 2016 in Motor vehicle accidents, Recent News

Money Damages Are Sometimes Only Justice Available

The family of a man and baby who were killed, and a young woman who was injured in an October 2015 car crash at the intersection of State Road 436 and State Road 434 are understandably upset to learn that the Seminole County State Attorney’s office has chosen not to prosecute the 75-year old woman who caused the fatal and tragic crash. However, justice can still be done for this family. The prosecutor’s decision highlights the difference between the criminal justice system and the civil justice system, and the differing legal standards and standards of proof that apply to each. According to an article on the ClickOrlando.com website, Seminole County State Attorney Phil Archer has elected not to press charges against Cynthia Guthrie because he does not believe his office can prove – beyond a reasonable doubt (the criminal law standard of proof) – that Ms. Guthrie is guilty of willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, or that she acted with reckless disregard. Because the State Attorney is not prosecuting Ms. Guthrie, it means that she does not risk jail time or probation. However, this does not mean that Ms. Guthrie will avoid all responsibility for the crash. Under our civil justice system, Ms. Guthrie can still face liability for causing the accident. However, her liability under the civil system is financial (i.e. paying money damages), not the loss of her physical freedom. In a civil case arising from a car crash, an injured party, or the surviving family member of someone who has been tragically killed, only needs to prove that the driver was negligent in order to win. Not only that, but the injured party does not need to prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the injured party only has to prove that it is more likely than not that the driver was negligent or careless. Obviously, it is much easier to prove a civil case for negligence than a criminal case. This is good because it gives accident victims an effective way of holding negligent or careless drivers accountable – even when the criminal justice system won’t. We do this all of the time for our clients. If you have any questions following a Florida car accident or wrongful death case, call Winter Park car accident attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-254-4901 or visit our main website by clicking here. We are a small, boutique law firm that has recovered millions of dollars for our injured clients. All consultations are free and without...

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Was The Drunk Driver In Your Accident Illegally Served By A Bar or Restaurant?

Posted by on Jan 14, 2015 in Motor vehicle accidents, Types of Accidents, Uncategorized

Was The Drunk Driver In Your Accident Illegally Served By A Bar or Restaurant?

I saw an interesting article on the insurancejournal.com website about a lawsuit that was recently filed in Wyoming by two women who had been injured in a crash involving a drunk driver.  Unlike a typical car accident case where the claim or lawsuit is brought against the negligent driver, the ladies in the Wyoming case brought their claim against the bar that served the negligent drunk driver.  According to allegations in the injured ladies’ legal Complaint, the negligent drunk driver was underage, and the people who were running the bar where the underage girl was provided the alcohol knew that she was underage. In Florida, cases like this one in Wyoming fall under a category of claims called “dram shop” cases.  Like most states, Florida law generally protects bars and restaurants from liability when one of their patrons leaves a bar or restaurant a little intoxicated and causes injuries to someone else.  However, in Florida, there are exceptions.  Florida Statute Section 768.125 make it unlawful for any person (or business) to sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to a person under 21, or to a person who is habitually addicted to alcohol, and makes the person (or business) liable for any damages caused by the underage drinker or alcoholic. As a lawyer who has handled a number of dram shop cases over the years on behalf of injured people (and the families of those killed by drunk drivers), I can tell you that putting together a viable dram shop case against a bar or restaurant can be challenging.  However, many times it is worth it when the drunk driver has limited or no insurance and there is no other avenue of recovery.  This is particularly true when the damages are catastrophic, or result in a wrongful death claim for families member whose lives have been ruined by a drunk driver. An argument can certainly be made that businesses who profit from providing alcohol to people who should not be in possession of it, and then allow them to get behind the wheel of a car, should be made to pay damages to those who have been injured by their greedy business practices. If you have any questions regarding a crash involving a drunk driver in Florida, or if you believe that the person who hit you had been drinking at a local bar or restaurant shortly before your crash, please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...

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