Will You Go to Jail After a Fatal Car Accident in Ocala, FL?
Bill Allen | November 24, 2022 | Car Accidents
In Florida in 2021, approximately ten people died every day in fatal car crashes. Ninety-three of those deaths occurred in Marion County.
Sadly, fatal car accidents occur for many reasons. Common causes of deadly car accidents include:
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Failing to follow traffic laws
- Drowsy driving
- Aggressive driving and road rage
- Distracted driving
- Inexperienced drivers
Florida is a no-fault state for car accidents. Drivers must have a minimum amount of no-fault insurance.
However, Florida’s insurance laws permit accident victims to sue an at-fault driver if their injuries meet the serious injury threshold. Death is included in the exceptions. Therefore, family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court seeking damages.
However, when a fatal car accident occurs, law enforcement officers investigate the cause of the accident. A fatal car accident in Ocala could also result in criminal charges against the driver who caused the crash.
Could I Go to Jail for a Fatal Car Accident in Ocala, FL?
Several criminal statutes could apply to a fatal car accident in Ocala. The penalties for those crimes include time in county jail or incarceration in state prison.
Traffic offenses that cause a fatal car crash could lead to criminal charges for vehicular homicide. Examples of traffic offenses that could result in jail time if someone dies in an accident include:
- Fleeing the scene of an accident (hit-and-run accident)
- Impaired driving
- Racing other vehicles
- Reckless driving
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Driving too fast for the conditions
- Speeding through a school zone or construction zone
Depending on the circumstances and charges, a person could face a felony or misdemeanor offense. In addition to jail time, the person could also lose their driving privileges, be charged with fines, and serve probation.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim for a Fatal Car Accident in Ocala
A fatal car accident can result in a wrongful death claim against the other driver. A wrongful death claim is a civil action for compensation of damages. The civil claim is separate from the criminal case; it can be filed even if the at-fault driver is not charged with a crime.
You have the burden of proving the elements of a wrongful death claim for a fatal car accident. You must have sufficient evidence proving the legal elements of the claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Those elements are:
- The motorist owed your family member a duty of care
- The motorist failed to meet the duty of care (breach of duty)
- The breach of duty by the motorist was the direct and proximate cause of your family member’s death (causation)
- Your family member’s death resulted in damages and losses
All Florida drivers owe a duty of care to obey traffic laws. They must also operate their vehicles with reasonable care to avoid causing an accident.
Breaching the duty of care can include negligent behaviors that cause a car accident. Negligent driving behaviors that can lead to a fatal car crash include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Drag racing
- Drugged driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
Proving that a person is guilty of negligence while driving is not sufficient to prove your claim for wrongful death. You must also prove that the driver’s actions were a “direct and proximate” cause of your loved one’s death.
In other words, you must prove that your loved one would not have died had it not been for the driver’s actions. Additionally, the driver must have been able to reasonably foresee that their actions could result in injury or harm to another person.
An Ocala wrongful death lawyer gathers evidence proving causation and fault for the fatal car crash. A lawyer might hire experts to assist with the investigation, including accident reconstructionists. These efforts are in response to the insurance company for the at-fault driver, which is working hard to avoid liability for the accident.
What Should You Do if Your Loved One Died in an Ocala Car Accident?
It is difficult to think about legal action and lawsuits when you are mourning the death of your loved one. However, the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions in Florida is two years from the date of death.
Two years sounds like a long time. However, investigating fatal car crashes can take months. Additionally, crucial evidence proving liability could be destroyed or lost if it is not gathered and preserved.
Seeking legal advice as soon as possible is the best way to protect your family’s right to pursue a wrongful death claim. Suing the driver who caused your loved one’s death can never make up for the loss of your loved one.
However, it can bring a measure of justice and closure for your family. Additionally, the compensation your family receives can help as you work to move forward after a sudden loss.
Contact Our Ocala Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala car accident lawyers at Allen Law Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida: