12-Year-Old Boy Killed in Polk County Crash Involving Man Charged with DUI Manslaughter | Tampa Wrongful Death Lawyers Whittel & Melton


The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has reported that a 12-year-old boy from Plant City died in a car crash in Mulberry just after midnight on Sunday. 

There were three others injured in the vehicle crash, including a 14-year-old boy. 

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office believes that Toyota Corolla driven by a 30-year-old man collided with a Nissan pickup truck driven by a 42-year-old man. 

Reports from the crash indicate that the driver of the truck and the 12-year-old child were ejected from the vehicle, and that the Corolla caught fire. 

Officials reported that bystanders successfully pulled the 14-year-old boy from the truck, who suffered a broken collar bone and was taken to Lakeland Regional Health for his injury. 

After Polk County deputies and fire rescue located the 12-year-old child in the middle of the highway unresponsive, he was airlifted to St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa. He later died from his injuries. 

The driver of the pickup truck is listed in critical but stable condition and being treated at Lakeland Regional Health for a broken neck and leg. 

The driver of the Corolla suffered a broken leg. Upon his release he was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter, several counts of DUI with serious injuries, and driving without a valid driver’s license. 

Deputies did mention that no one in the truck was wearing a seatbelt. The driver of the Corolla was wearing a seatbelt, according to reports. 

police-850054_1920-300x212The PCSO Traffic Homicide Unit shutdown the roadway for five hours while they investigated the scene. 

The crash still remains under investigation. 

Losing a spouse, partner, child, or other relative or family member in a car crash due to the reckless actions of a drunk driver is a horrific experience to have to endure. If you have lost a loved one in a DUI crash in the Tampa Bay area, a wrongful death lawsuit is a way to achieve justice from the responsible driver of the accident as well as recover financial compensation to help you move forward from this tragic loss. 

Drunk Driving Sobering Statistics in the U.S. 

Drunk driving is entirely preventable, but still one of the top causes of car accidents throughout the United States. The statistics below show just how serious of a problem DUI-related collisions are. 

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 30 people are killed every day from DUI car accidents in the United States, which adds up to one death every 50 minutes. 
  • In 2018, drunk driving fatalities were responsible for 29% of all car crash fatalities, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
  • According to the NHTSA, 10,511 people died in drunk driving crashes involving a driver who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit in all 50 states of 0.08%. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drivers under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs make up about 16% of all car crashes. 
  • The CDC also reported that in 2016 there were 1,233 traffic deaths among children 0-14 years in age. Of those, 214 or 17% involved a driver operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim? 

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim filed by surviving family members of a deceased person that seeks to hold the at-fault party responsible for their loved ones death. The grounds of a wrongful death claim can exist when a person dies because of another person’s negligent actions. When carried out successfully, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide surviving family members with financial compensation known as damages. 

Generally speaking, fatalities that are caused by the reckless or careless actions of another person can warrant a wrongful death claim. The essential elements that comprise a wrongful death claim in the state of Florida include:  

  1. Duty of care: For a DUI wrongful death claim this means that the drunk driver has a responsibility to follow all traffic laws, which means not operating their vehicle while intoxicated. 
  2. Breach duty of care: The duty of care must first be proven to exist and then it must be demonstrated how that duty was breached. For a DUI matter, the driver getting behind the wheel of a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol will demonstrate that they breached their duty of care. 
  3. Causation: It must be demonstrated that the breach of duty of care is what resulted in the wrongful death. In a DUI-related death, it would need to be shown that a drunk driver’s actions are what lead to the death of another person. 

While no amount of money can undo what happened or bring a loved one back, damages can help surviving family members achieve some sense of justice. The following types of damages may be recovered in a wrongful death claim:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Any medical bills related to the accident 
  • Lost wages 
  • Loss of benefits 
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Punitive damages may be available in certain cases, which are intended to punish the at-fault party for their intentional or severely negligent actions. 

While a DUI-related death matter may result in a criminal lawsuit against the at-fault party, a civil wrongful death lawsuit can still be filed in civil court. There are time constraints on when these suits must be filed, so it is best to consult with our Tampa Bay Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton to better understand your legal options and rights. We can walk you through the process and what you can expect the outcome of your case to be. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation where we are happy to explain a wrongful death claim in-depth with you. 


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