Fatal Motorcycle Accidents - Florida Wrongful Death Act
A life of a motorcyclist or ride on a motorcycle can end quite quickly and abruptly as a result of the negligence or fault of other drivers. Due to the size disparity between motorcycles and passenger / commercial motor vehicles, a motorcycle crash can be quite traumatic to the motorcyclist. It is quite sad to see a motorcyclist, who was full of life and love of family, community, and country, die as a result of the careless driving of another person.
When a motorcyclist is the victim in a fatal motorcycle accident in the State of Florida, a Florida Wrongful Death claim or case can be pursued on behalf of the statutory survivors of the motorcyclist. There are particular rules and procedures to follow to pursue a wrongful death case or claim. Section 768.20, Florida Statutes - Parties provides as follows:
The action shall be brought by the decedent's personal representative, who shall recover for the benefit of the decedent's survivors and estate all damages, as specified in this act, caused by the injury resulting in death. When a personal injury to the decedent results in death, no action for the personal injury shall survive, and any such action pending at the time of death shall abate.
Fatal motorcycle accident cases are handled differently than those in which the motorcyclist survives. In most cases, the damages are based on the survivor's loss of the family member. There can be damages for medical bills, funeral expenses, and loss of net accumulations which is essentially the amount that the decedent would have saved or invested during his or her lifetime; however, the focus of must cases is upon the emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish of the surviving family members who qualify as statutory survivors under the Florida Wrongful Death Act.
A fatal motorcycle accident can and does have a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, and community; however, the recoverable damages are limited to the following relatives:
- Spouse of the decedent;
- Minor child of the decedent;
- Adult child of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse;
- Parent of minor child; and
- Parent of adult children (if there are no other statutory survivors).
It should be noted that for purposes of the Florida Wrongful Death Act - a minor children is defined as a child under the age of 25. Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, there is no difference between the rights of an adopted child and a biological child of the decedent.
Fatal motorcycle accidents can have an impact on a statutory survivor for the rest of the survivor's life. The damages or compensation are based in part on the relationship between the statutory survivor and the decedent. A case is evaluated in part based on the quality of the relationship and the expected emotional loss over the lifetime of the survivor. While the Florida Statutes provide many details and procedures to follow, there is no formula per se for how much money should be awarded each statutory survivor of the decedent. In some cases, the amount of damages or compensation obtained may be defined as a practical matter by the amount of available liability insurance in place for the claim or case. For instance, let's say that the at-fault driver had a Bodily Injury insurance policy in place in the amount of $50,000. In most Florida Wrongful Death cases, the value of the survivor's pain and suffering typically well exceeds $50,000 however, some wrongful death cases settle for the policy limits if there are no other assets available to compensate the survivor or his or her losses.
Fatal motorcycle accidents involve a number of issues and challenges. As such, the family of the motorcyclist should retain the services of an experienced Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney for guidance, advice, and legal representation. David A. Wolf has dedicated his 27 year legal career to the protection and enforcement of the rights of injury victims and their families. He is the author of 10 books that focus on personal injury and safety issues.