Catastrophic Injury, Wrongful Death, and You
Having a loved one die or become permanently disabled due to the negligent or intentional actions of another is unbearable for most of us to think about. Sadly, however, our news outlets are constantly featuring stories that involve death or serious injury of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists at the hands of drunk or distracted drivers. Nothing can bring back a life, a lost limb, or the ability to walk after a debilitating injury. Justice can be served, however, and bringing a lawsuit against the responsible party may result in an award of monetary damages to help secure you and your loved ones some peace of mind and a stable financial future.
Civil Versus Criminal Law
When the person who was acting negligently and caused the injury or death is eventually (hopefully) apprehended, they may face both civil and criminal penalties. Criminal offenses are essentially actions for which you can go to jail. A criminal action is brought by prosecutors from the relevant government jurisdiction against the person who committed the wrongful action. Though there may be fines involved, these are paid to the state and not the individual victims. Depending on the case, the result will often be a trial in front of a judge or jury who will decide the crime and relevant punishment.
Civil penalties, on the other hand, are almost always monetary in nature. A civil action is between two private parties; in the instance of a wrongful death or catastrophic injury suit, the injured party or the estate representative of a deceased individual would bring suit against the person allegedly at fault for the death or injury. While these cases may go to trial like a criminal case, the judge or jury will decide whether the at-fault party is liable and how much money they should be required to pay the harmed party in monetary damages.
An Example Close to Home
Just recently, an intoxicated driver struck and critically injured a 17-year-old Miami youth. The driver unlawfully fled the scene, a felony in Florida, but investigators were able to apprehend him after finding video footage following the accident. According to a bill proposed in early 2014, hit and run accidents are a severe concern in the greater Miami area; so much so that state officials wish to require a mandatory minimum sentence of four years for knowingly fleeing the scene of the accident in addition to a three-year license suspension. The driver in this tragic case is currently in custody and will likely be facing criminal hit-and-run charges.
Though there is no indication civil charges have or will be filed, this is one example of a case that could have both criminal and civil components. The family members of the injured youth could bring a catastrophic injury claim if the child remained alive. However, it is believed they will soon remove the child from life support, allowing for a wrongful death case. If the family brought a lawsuit against the driver, they could potentially recover for medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of future earnings, loss of consortium (love, companionship, and care), and their own mental anguish from having to watch their loved one go through this terrible event. The idea of damages is to compensate those that are still living and/or responsible for the care of the injured party.
Miami Catastrophic Injury & Wrongful Death Attorneys
We understand how emotional and traumatic it is to lose a loved one or watch them suffer catastrophic injury. That is why our experienced South Florida catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawyers at Alan Goldfarb P.A. are so well-respected in the Miami area. We will take the time to advise you of your legal options and how you can move forward from this difficult time. We will work with you to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to and will help you navigate the legal system and explain things in a way that makes sense. Please do not hesitate to contact our Miami-based office today.