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Fewer Florida Traffic Fatalities in 2009: But What About the Survivors?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced that traffic fatalities fell to the fewest ever reported while declining for the fourth consecutive year. The Department cited several reasons for the good news: new seatbelt laws, strategic law enforcement and education and awareness campaigns.

Unfortunately, traffic fatalities are still a fairly frequent occurrence in Florida. More than 2,500 motor vehicle fatalities occurred last year alone, which means that someone was killed every three and a half hours on a Florida road or highway. These deaths cause a devastating impact on survivors of the deceased. The survivors of those killed in car accidents are left with numerous important responsibilities immediately after a loved one’s death. Pursuing legal action against the wrongdoer is not something that most people wish to focus on while grieving for a loved one, but it is crucial for survivors to know their legal rights.

Survivors’ Rights in a Wrongful Death Action

Florida’s wrongful death statute defines survivors to include spouses, children, parents or any blood relative or adopted brother or sister who depended on the deceased for support. The law allows a personal representative to bring an action for the benefit of the survivors for wrongful death, negligence and other theories of legal liability.

The personal representative can seek damages for the effect of the victim’s death on his or her family including the lost value of support and services occurring after the injury, future support and services lost, medical and funeral expenses. Particular survivors, such as spouses and children, may also be entitled to damages for the loss of companionship, protection and for mental pain and suffering.

Survivors Should Take Immediate Action

Florida’s wrongful death laws expressly state that they are to be construed liberally to ensure that the wrongdoer is financially responsible for a fatality – not the survivors. However, it is important for survivors to promptly contact an experienced personal injury attorney as the complex laws have strict time limits to file a claim for damages.

The law firm of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, represents families who have suffered a loss due to a wrongful death. The firm is dedicated to making our highways and roads safer for everyone. For more on what your rights, or on how we hold negligent parties accountable, please visit our website at www.sgglaw.com.

Source: State of Florida – Department of Transportation News Release “Florida Traffic Fatalities Fall to a Record Low in 2009” 6/14/10

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