Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties Whittel & Melton, LLC

Accidents caused by other people's negligence are by their very nature, unplanned. It's for this reason that when an accident happens, victims may find themselves bridled with injury, pain and financial losses, not knowing which way to turn.

Being involved in an accident can be one of the most unsettling and devastating times in a person's life. During this time, having a seasoned attorney on your side, looking out for your best interest, can be the difference between becoming whole or struggling with pain and financial loss for years to come. If you are a victim of an accident, who you select as your attorney is the most important decision you need to make.

We are here to help.

The Tampa Bay Personal Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton guarantee that our clients receive the personalized attention they deserve. Our first priority is doing everything in our power to fight for full and fair compensation for your injury and loss.

Our Pinellas and Hillsborough County personal injury practice involves every type of injury case-- from serious car or motorcycle accidents to slip and falls to premises liability. The first step we take with our prospective clients is to schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of the case. Our St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyers then will offer advice about options to seek financial recovery following a serious accident, catastrophic injury or the wrongful death of a loved one. We represent clients on injury claims arising from of a wide range of incidents and accidents. Click any area to the left to learn more about the scope of our practice.

If you have been in an accident, we don't think that you should have to suffer unnecessarily just because you were involved in an accident and are awaiting resolution to your case. While we cannot take the pain away, many times, we are able to refer you to Doctors who will treat and manage your pain, even if you don't have health insurance.

We Stand with You.

Most importantly, at Whittel & Melton, you can be confident that we will stand behind you and your case. Once we commit to representing you, we will never put you or your claim on the back burner, and we are available by phone 24 hours a day.

We promise to aggressively pursue the parties and insurance companies involved in your case to obtain justice for you and your loved ones. Through financial settlement or trial, we will prepare your case to achieve maximum compensation. You will never be responsible for any attorney's fees unless and until there is a successful financial recovery for your damages. Simply put, we will not be satisfied until you are.

We are proud to help accident victims throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota Counties – including Tampa, Brandon, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida.

Please call us at anytime. We are available 24 hours a day. (813) 221-3200, (727) 823-0000, (866) 608-5529.

David Gwynn, Florida’s regional transportation secretary, said that the state is looking to make the 13 mile stretch of highway from Tampa to Pasco County safer by installing three traffic signals at dangerous, crash-prone intersections.

The state is also researching how to widen the U.S. 301 due to the high number of accidents as well as future projections showing as many as 49,300 vehicles using the road by 2040.

Gwynn told the Hillsborough Transportation Planning Organization last week that when he drives U.S. 301 from Tampa to meetings in Pasco County that he finds himself often speeding just to keep up with other motorists sharing the highway and prevent them from erratically passing him.

Shortly after sharing the state’s plan – just 16 hours later – a four-vehicle crash happened on U.S 301 just before 3 a.m. killing two people and leaving two others with serious injuries. The accident caused the road between Zephyrhills and the Temple Terrace area to be closed off for over six hours.

According to state data, 16 people have died and another 338 have been injured in 464 crashes on U.S. 301 for a five-year span ending in 2019. This crash rate is twice the statewide average for similar roadways.

From 2015-2019, there were 24 head-on collisions on the highway, with speeding being identified as the main issue. Gwynn said that impatient drivers try to maneuver dangerous passing techniques that can result in serious crashes.

Pasco-County-Car-Accident-Lawyers-1-300x300The plan to turn the two-lane road into a four-lane divided highway between State Road 56 in Pasco and Fowler Avenue is in the study stage, according to reports. There is no money currently budgeted for this estimated $199.5 million job.

There are also concerns about the speed limit and whether it should be reduced to 45 mph.

Head-on crashes happen when two cars strike each other from the front straight on. These are some of the most dangerous types of auto accidents, due to the fact that when two cars smash each other head-on this doubles the force of the impact. Imagine you are travelling at 60 mph on the highway and are struck by another car head-on travelling at the same speed of 60 mph. This is now the equivalent of a crash at 120 mph.

If you have been the victim of a head-on crash in the Tampa Bay area, that was no fault of your own, or if you have lost a loved one in a head-on smash up, then you need to enlist the help of a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You want to make sure that you fully protect your rights, which includes your right to seeking financial compensation for your losses as a result of the accident you were involved in. Our Tampa Bay Car Crash Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you. We can walk you through your case and what to expect. We have a long history of working with injury victims and their families in Tampa Bay and throughout the state of Florida.

The more serious your injuries following a car accident, the more money you should be able to recover from the at-fault driver. The driver who caused the collision, or rather, their insurance provider, should be the ones to cover all of your mounting medical bills (both now and in the future), lost wages due to missing time from work, pain and suffering, or even wrongful death if your loved one was killed in the collision. Continue reading

The number of people racing through the active crosswalk of 5th Avenue North at 25th Street North has more than just the neighborhood buzzing with complaints. It now has the attention of Real Time Traffic Expert Chuck Henson.

The crosswalk has been compared to playing a game of “Frogger,” where you press the ‘walk’ button and expect cars to stop for pedestrians, but they do not.

Due to the fact that St. Petersburg High School is located right at this intersection, the reason for concern is more than validated.

The St. Petersburg Police Department has reported that there have been 58 crashes between 21st Street and 34th Street just within the past five months. Three of these resulted in fatalities.

Untitled-design-2-300x300Interesting Fact: For the month of February, the intersection of 34th Street and 5th Avenue North was ranked as the second worst intersection in St. Petersburg.

With so many accidents occurring at this popular crosswalk, our Tampa Pedestrian Accident Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton would like to offer up a few tips that can help keep everyone using the roadways safer. These simple steps only take five seconds, and could very well save a life.


  1. Always cross at the marked crosswalk.
  2. Look left and right and make sure the roadway is clear before walking, regardless of if there is a signal that says you are “OK” to walk.
  3. If you see a vehicle approach, make eye contact with the driver in an attempt to make sure they see you before you walk.
  4. Look before you walk past stopped vehicles, even if they have waved you to go ahead. You need to make sure ALL lanes are clear before proceeding.


  1. ALWAYS yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk and an intersection.
  2. Make sure you are prepared to stop at all marked crosswalks. Keep your eyes open and slow down at crosswalks.
  3. Look out for skateboarders, bikers, etc. as they can approach crosswalks much faster than those on foot.
  4. Come to a complete stop at crosswalks and intersections and make sure there are no pedestrians present before continuing on.
  5. Wait until pedestrians have crossed completely before you resume your travel.
  6. Do not pass another vehicle that is slowing down or stopping at a crosswalk.

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Tampa, and the entire Sunshine State, is known for its relatively warm year-round climate. Intense heat not only burn you while on your bike, but can easily lead to you becoming dehydrated without even realizing it and resulting in heat exhaustion/injury. The key to preventing a heat injury is to be prepared. The following tips from our Tampa Bay Motorcycle Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you face the heat:

  1. Dont-Sweat-It-300x300Stay hydrated. You must drink water and keep your body hydrated. Many Florida riders opt for a camelback or other hydration pack for their rides so that they can sip on their water without stopping their bike. Drink more than you think you need to ensure proper hydration. Remember, sports drinks are no substitute for H2O, but can be added along with for electrolytes.
  2. Steer clear of caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Sugary sodas may sound good, but caffeine is a diuretic, which means this pulls more water out of your body. Alcohol and biking are not a good mix, for many reasons, so it is best to refrain from drinking alcohol and biking.
  3. Give your body time to recoup. Your body can only take so much heat, so make sure you get rest and cool down. Recognize the warning signs of heat stroke, like cramps, flushed skin, nausea, dizziness, headaches, intense sweating, and extreme tiredness.
  4. Wear the right gear. Head-to-toe gear can prevent injuries from a crash, but also prevent heat injuries. When you ride in warmer temps, it is best to stay covered in mesh or moisture wicking material. Technology has provided riders with cool gadgets to fight of the heat, such as cooling vests, wrist bands, and collars that absorb water into moisture-retaining fabric so that your body can keep cool for hours.
  5. Wear sunscreen. Extreme heat means intense sun exposure that can easily burn you in minutes. You want to wear sunscreen with SPF of 30 or greater on exposed skin every time you ride in the sun to stop burns.

Fatigue can creep up on you easily when riding in extreme heats, so make sure you are protected when traveling through Tampa in the warmer temps. Don’t wait until you have extreme thirst to drink some water, as you are already dehydrated at this point. Your body loses tons of water when you sweat, so you need to replenish these lost fluids before fatigue sets in.

If you start to feel any symptoms of heat exhaustion while on your bike, then it is best to pull over and rehydrate. It is also a great idea to rest until you have recovered from dehydration.

Our Tampa Bay Motorcycle Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton cannot stress this enough: Never ride your bike if you feel groggy, disoriented, or weak. The Florida heat is no joke! Continue reading

New Year’s Eve is upon us and our Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want you to start 2022 off stress free. We want you to enjoy the celebrations and reflections of this past year, but also keep in mind the bright possibilities for the year to come. With that said, stay alert to what is going on around you and be extra to avoid ringing in the New Year with the added cost of a DUI arrest or an unnecessary injury.


New Year’s Eve often involves popping champagne bottles. While this is a lovely tradition, be mindful that the corks can go all over and hit eyes. Be sure to aim corks away from people to avoid a tragedy. Another wise tip: keep an eye on your drink at all times, especially if you are at a large party or bar. Make your own drink or have the bartender do the mixing and do not leave your drink unattended.

Two Plant City High School students were killed in a motorcycle crash Friday at the intersection of Bay to Bay Boulevard and Lois Avenue, where a traffic signal and other safety improvements are under review.

The city of Tampa staff in conjunction with Hillsborough County have been trying to secure funding for years to improve the safety at this dangerous intersection, but the money just isn’t available, according to reports.

Ove the past two months, Tampa city staff have been looking at taking temporary measures to keep pedestrians safe from the short distance near a school and park, such as a pedestrian-activated crossing (a rectangular flashing beacon) like the ones you can see Bayshore Boulevard.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and that means millions of people are hitting the U.S. roadways to get to their families and friends for the holiday.

A spokesman for AAA estimates that 2.6 million Floridians will be road tripping this year (2021), which is 200,000 more than last year. With so many drivers on the roads this year, AAA also estimates that 400,000 motorists will need roadside assistance this Thanksgiving weekend.

car-ga1dde5ccf_1920-300x199So, what are the most common auto issues for road trippers?

  1. Dead Batteries
  2. Flat Tires
  3. Lock Outs

Due to the stretching months of the COVID19 pandemic, many motorists may have neglected their vehicles and left them sitting for long stretches. This means that something like low tire pressure could easily turn into a big problem once out on the road. Underinflated tires can quickly lead to tire blowouts, which is the last thing you want to deal with once your trip is underway and you are on the highway travelling 50-60 mph.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), 2020 saw 3,069 tire-related crashes in the Sunshine State, resulting in 184 injuries and 61 deaths.

Luckily, AAA has a pretty cool trick to check your tire inflation level. Start by grabbing a quarter. Then stick Washington’s into the tread, and if you can still see the top of his head, then this means your tread is too low and it might be time to replace your tire.

AAA also noted that you should check these 5 things on your vehicle before making any long trips:

  1. Tires
  2. Battery
  3. Brakes
  4. Fluids
  5. Wiper Blades

If your car has been sitting for extended periods of time, then sediment can be lingering at the bottom of those systems, so you may need to flush your brake fluids, coolant, and power steering because if left untreated then your car could overheat, your brake cylinder could fail, or power steering pump could go out.

Before you head out for the holiday, get your car serviced by an expert. A simple inspection could make all the difference in how your road trip goes and whether you make it safely to Thanksgiving dinner or not.

Prep Your Car for Safe Travels

Just because your car has been running without issues, never assume it is ready for a road trip. Our Tampa Car Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton recommend taking your car to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection before you head out for your long Thanksgiving trip. Your mechanic should change your oil, top off all fluids, rotate your tires, check your tire air pressure, and make sure all components of your vehicle are in excellent condition for travel. All repair should be made before you make your trip.

A proper maintenance check before you head out on a road trip can keep you from being stranded on the side of the road in an area that you are not familiar with. Most road trips mean many hours spent in the car or behind the wheel, so you want to make your trip as pleasant as possible.

We want to make sure you get to your destination safely this Thanksgiving holiday. However, we know that accidents happen. If you are involved in a car accident this holiday weekend, then we are available 24/7 to help you. You can call us day or night at 813-221-3200 or contact us online to request a free consultation. Continue reading

While Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Larry, another monstrous storm, is stirring up dangerous waters up and down the entire eastern seaboard as it heads toward Bermuda.

Hurricane Larry has been knocked down to a Category 2 Hurricane from a Category 3, with maximum winds clocked at 110 mph as the storm churns 425 miles southeast of Bermuda, leaving that area with a Tropical Storm warning.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199On Wednesday night, Tropical Depression Mindy made landfall as a tropical storm in St. Vincent Island, Florida. The storm brings winds of as high as 35 mph and is expected to cause an estimated 6 inches of rainfall across the Florida Panhandle as well as parts of southern Georgia and South Carolina.

WalletHub named Tampa the 9th fastest growing city in the United States in 2020, which means tourism and revenue are up in the area, but this also means rush hour traffic can be a nightmare to contend with. 

At Whittel & Melton, our Tampa Bay Car and Truck Accident Lawyers know full well that there is no realistic way to completely avoid traffic. However, there are some tips we can offer to help you spend less time sitting in heavy traffic, which may help you have a better day.  

Steering clear of traffic reduces your chances of being involved in a car accident significantly, which is just one benefit. If you have been involved in a car accident in the Tampa Bay area then we urge you to get in touch with us to learn more about what we can do to help you file a personal injury claim for damages. 

miami-2690191_1920-300x200The good news is that there are some great strategies that you can implement when you are aware of the traffic patterns and can act accordingly. 

The more you understand about Tampa’s population growth, the more you can understand why traffic is such an issue. Interstate-275, I-4, I-75, SR 580, SR 582, SR 583, US 301, US 92, and Dale Mabry Highway are a few of the major highways that have become a bear to navigate during peak travel times throughout the day. While there are many benefits to minimizing your time spent in traffic and thus in your vehicle, the main one is that the less amount of time you are on the roads the less likely you are to be involved in a car accident. We know that it is not always possible to avoid a car accident, but we know that there are ways to reduce the odds of being involved in one. 

Read on to understand more about traffic in Tampa and how you can navigate it more effectively. 

Factors that Contribute to Growing Traffic in Tampa

Increasing Population

Florida dominates the growth trend as an entire state, and Tampa Bay is growing every single day with more people setting up residence here. Over the past 9 years Tampa’s population growth rate remains pretty consistent ranging from 0.63% to 2.45%, adding around 2,199 to 8,817 people every year. There are numerous workers and entrepreneurs moving here every year to take advantage of the many job opportunities, which contributes to the strong population growth. 

Construction Projects

Tampa has its fair share of construction projects that result in lane closures, street closures, etours, and of course, delays. You can register for alerts to be sent to your phone or email each day so that you can have an update about traffic patterns before you leave your house every morning. 

Some of the construction projects in Tampa include:

  • Dale Mabry Highway Roadway Lighting Maintenance at W. Humphrey Street
  • Hillsborough County Bridge Maintenance Repair US 41, SR 60 and US 301
  • I-275 (Howard Frankland Bridge) New southbound bridge between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties
  • I-275 Widening from I-4 to north of US 92 (Hillsborough Ave.)
  • I-275, I-4, I-75 Wrong-way Detection Installation in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties
  • I-75 Ramp Reconfiguration and Interchange Modification from south of MLK (exit 260) to I-4
  • Independence Parkway Repaving of SR 589 (Veterans Expressway) Ramps
  • SR 580 (Hillsborough Ave) Median Safety Improvements from Memorial Hwy/Sheldon Rd to Himes Ave
  • SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) Intersection Improvements (Multiple Locations)
  • SR 583 (56th St) Roadway Lighting Maintenance from Hillsborough Ave to Puritan Rd
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Blvd) Safety Enhancements and Pedestrian Improvements from West Shore Blvd to MacDill Ave
  • US 301 Median Safety Improvements from Falkenburg Road to Sligh Avenue
  • US 92 (Hillsborough Ave) Highway Lighting from 56th St and I-4
  • US 92 (Hillsborough Avenue) Mid-block Crosswalk between Central Ave and 56th Street

By knowing these locations and the traffic patterns, you can plan alternate routes and help yourself have a better commute. 

Learn Peak Traffic Times in Tampa 

When you are able to understand the peak times and traffic patterns, it can become a great deal easier to navigate Hillsborough and Pinellas County traffic. 

The “Rush Hour Rampage” in Tampa is from 7:30 and 9:30 am and again from 3:30 to 7:30 pm. During these times, it is best to avoid Hillsborough Ave and popular I-275 exits.

Back Roads Might Increase Your Travel Time 

While you might think that taking the back roads will shorten your commute, you’d be wrong. There are over 130 main roads in Pinellas County that have smart technology, like Ulmerton Rd. and U.S. 19, so if you are traveling with traffic the green lights actually last longer. Smaller roads like Belcher Rd. or Bellaire Rd. have shorter green lights, which means more time waiting.  

Follow Speed Limits 

The “InSync” smart traffic signals are timed to work with speed limits, so if you are going too fast or too slow then you could hit more red lights. 

Talk to Your Boss About Working from Home 

Even if you can work a few days from home, this could help you avoid a few days of traffic. Start by asking your boss to work 1-2 days from home to show that you can be just as productive at your home office as at your work office. If you can show that you are able to be as productive, if not more, then they may be more inclined to let you work more days from home or even full time at home. 

You could even ask to work off peak hours so that you avoid rush hour traffic, like 10:00am to 7:00pm or 6:00am to 2:00pm.

Take Advantage of Public Transportation

Tampa boasts many different options for getting around, such as bikes and buses. Tampa has Coast Bikes available and numerous hubs to park them located around the city. Tampa also has various scooters to rent, such as Lime, Bird and Spin. Tampa also has a pirate water taxi, the Downtowner ride share service, the Hart bus, Zipcar, and the Teco Line Streetcar

Avoiding Traffic Means Hours of Your Life Back 

Rush hour traffic can add hundreds of wasted hours to your life. By taking advantage of some of the options we have outlined above, you will see lots of time saved and value added back to your life. You will also minimize your risk of being involved in a traffic accident.  Continue reading

A man riding a bicycle Monday morning was hit and killed by a vehicle in Largo, according to police reports. 

The vehicle vs. bike accident occurred just before 6 a.m. on Starkey Road and East Bay Drive. Police pronounced the biker dead at the scene. 

The Largo Police Departments Traffic Homicide Unit responded to the crash site and is currently conducting an investigation into the tragedy. 

Police did release that they believe the man’s bicycle had no tail light and that alcohol was not a factor in the crash. The driver of the vehicle did remain at the crash site, so it will be determined once a full investigation is conducted whether or not the driver will face any charges. 

biking-1721469_1920-300x175No one ever expects to be involved in a bicycle crash or even a pedestrian accident. The aftermath of these serious accidents can affect victims and their families for a long time. If you survive a crash like these, you may find that the physical and emotional recovery process is a lengthy one and you may be unable to enjoy your life in the same ways as you did before the accident. On top of this, you might be struggling to keep up with your medical bills due to not being able to work. Our Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are leaders in the field of pedestrian and bicycle law and are advocates for cyclists throughout the state of Florida.

We know that now more than ever bikes have become a very popular year-round mode of transportation for residents and visitors alike in Florida. We also know that regardless of how careful pedestrians and bicyclists are, they can easily become the victims of a crash caused by negligent motorists. That is why we remain committed to protecting the rights of bikers and pedestrians throughout the Tampa Bay area. 

We have seen all kinds of accidents in our years of work protecting the rights of injured bicyclists and pedestrians. We know how even the safest of bikers and pedestrians can have encounters with angry drivers who have struck them intentionally, opened their doors in their paths, or even passing too closely or driving too closely. Serious and fatal accidents can happen even in communities that have bike lanes that are in place to protect bikers and provide them with more visibility to drivers. 

Florida law is clear when it comes to pedestrian and bike laws: bicyclists have the same rights to use the roads as drivers of motor vehicles. The law also provides that drivers of motor vehicles are to exercise caution when sharing the roads with pedestrians and bikers to avoid hitting them. Sadly, despite laws protecting bikers and pedestrians, many unnecessary injuries and deaths occur every year because of distracted or inattentive drivers. 

Can I Be Found Responsible for My Own Bicycle Crash? 

As we mentioned before, bikers have rights when they are out on the roads in Tampa Bay and elsewhere in Florida. On that some note, cyclists also have legal responsibilities they must abide by just like drivers of motor vehicles. So to answer this question, yes, bikers can be held partially liable for causing an accident that resulted in their injuries. This is known as contributory negligence, and means that the biker in question may have contributed to their own crash in some way. While a police officer may write up an accident report naming you partially at fault, or an insurance adjuster working on your accident claim may make this determination, this does not mean that you are actually at fault. It is important to work with a injury attorney after your accident so that they can advocate on your behalf and make sure your rights and responsibilities are fully protected. 

Bicyclists and pedestrians alike are usually left to suffer serious injuries that can last extended periods of time. Medical bills can be overwhelming and they may be unable to get back to work right away. Our Tampa Bay Pedestrian and Bicyclist Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you build a strong case in order to recover the financial compensation you need and deserve following a serious bicycle or pedestrian accident. 

We fully understand that many residents of Tampa choose to cycle or walk to work or even engage in these activities daily for their health or to participate in recreation activities with their families. If you’ve been injured by a careless driver, you deserve to have experienced legal representation to uphold the laws that make our roads accessible to all. 

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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. 

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