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Contributory Negligence in Traffic-Related Wrongful Death Suits

Accident

In the ongoing saga of tennis-superstar Venus Williams’ legal battle with the family of a man whom Ms. Williams is alleged to have killed in a traffic collision, Ms. Williams is alleging that the decedent was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the fatal collision. In a way, then, Ms. Williams is arguing that the decedent’s own carelessness or recklessness was the actual proximate cause of his fatal injuries – not Ms. Williams’ driving.

Proximate Causation in Personal Injury Lawsuits 

One of the central claims in a personal injury or wrongful death suit that the injury victim and/or plaintiff must prove is that the negligent conduct and behavior of the defendant is the proximate cause of the person’s injury and/or death. That is to say, the injuries sustained by the plaintiff or decedent must be such that they would not have occurred but for the defendant’s actions. If some other cause or circumstance helped bring about the accident or led to the plaintiff’s injuries being as severe as they were, then the plaintiff’s damage award is subject to a reduction (or complete elimination, if the defendant’s actions did not in any way contribute to the accident or the plaintiff’s injuries).

There may be more than one proximate cause in any Florida personal injury or wrongful death suit. If this is the case, then it falls to the plaintiff to provide evidence and/or testimony that demonstrates what role each proximate cause played in bringing about the plaintiff’s injuries or the victim’s death.

Failing to Wear Your Seatbelt Can Be Negligent Conduct 

Ms. Williams’ defense to the wrongful death allegations essentially claims that the decedent in the crash would not have been killed had he been wearing a seatbelt. This is an argument that, if the allegation were true, could be persuasive and effective. A reasonable person (against whose actions all litigants’ actions are compared) would wear his or her seatbelt at all times; thus, if this negligent conduct is determined to be a contributing cause of the decedent’s death, the wrongful death lawsuit may fail in whole or in part.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Make Sense of This Situation? 

If your loved one is injured or killed in a Florida car wreck and evidence suggests that your loved one is at least partially (if not completely) responsible for causing his or her death, it becomes the responsibility of your car crash attorney to be prepared to introduce evidence and testimony to minimize or eliminate the deceased loved one’s own negligence as a proximate cause of the injuries and/or death.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a Florida car wreck, seek out the experienced and talented team of Roman & Roman for help. We excel in cases involving difficult or challenging facts and are eager to work with you to assist you in obtaining the compensation you need and to which you may be entitled. Call 877-767-1032 today, or write to us through our website.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.81.html

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