String Of Tragic Deaths Involving Children Left In Hot Cars Continues In Florida—Do Families Have The Right To Bring Wrongful Death Claims Against Parents & Others Responsible?
News of two children tragically dying after being left in hot cars has dominated news headlines here in Florida of late. It is difficult for people to understand how it is possible for a parent to leave their child in a hot car, and there is no question that the mother accused as being responsible in this latest incident has been charged with negligent manslaughter. But what about family members who have been wronged by this loss being able to bring a claim for wrongful death, and find their own justice?
Sadly, these latest deaths are part of a string of recent incidents here in Florida involving parents leaving their children locked inside cars for extended periods of time during unfathomably hot temperatures; some of which said that they went to work and simply forgot that the children were inside the vehicles. The temperature inside a car can get to 50 degrees higher than temperatures outside, where, in recent weeks, those temperatures in Florida have averaged around 95 degrees. In addition, over 80 percent of the heat increase can occur just in the first 30 minutes.
What the Law Dictates
Historically, “family immunity” prevented family members for suing one another over issues like these; born from an effort by insurance companies to prevent potential insurance fraud. However, in some circumstances, relatives can now file a lawsuit for wrongful death where negligence can be proven. For example, in Florida, the law dictates that when someone’s death is caused by negligence or a number of other circumstances of another person, the estate of the deceased person may bring a civil lawsuit, seeking a remedy for that death and loss. The state law makes no mention of any immunity for family members.
This also applies to any party – including a daycare center – that is responsible for and owes a duty to keep the child safe for the child’s sake and for the sake of their immediate family. In addition, in circumstances like these, additional regulations apply that can allow for a daycare center or other entity to be found negligent; for example, regulations that mandate that certain headcounts be performed throughout the day, as well as company-owned vehicles be checked, logs be maintained, etc. In fact, in Florida, any injury or death which occurs during the commission of a criminal act (such as negligent manslaughter) is sufficient to establish negligence in a civil lawsuit brought, including personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
Contact Our Florida Wrongful Death Attorneys with Any Questions
Nothing can ever make whole the loss of a child, and this is often even more so the case when that loss was preventable. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact our experienced wrongful death attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out what your rights and options are.