Hilda Garcia was crossing Northwest 37th Avenue and Northwest 9th Street around 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, June 10, when she was struck by a vehicle. She was walking home from the grocery store and using a walker at the time of the crash. Garcia was 77 years old, and just shy of her 78th birthday. When emergency responders arrived, she was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The police have confirmed the vehicle must have been moving at a high rate of speed, Garcia was dragged a significant distance, and at least one of Garcia’s limbs was severed. The driver of the vehicle did not stop and wait for authorities. City of Miami Police are investigating the crash and searching for the hit-and-run driver. The family is asking the driver to come forward.
When the driver is identified, they will face criminal charges. The surviving family members, including Garcia’s son, may choose to file a civil wrongful death claim. This claim is separate and distinct from any criminal charges the hit-and-run driver may face. If you lost a loved one in a hit-and-run crash, contact a Miami car accident lawyer at Gerson & Schwartz P.A. right away.
Hit-and-Run Crashes Becoming More Common
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study and found that the number of hit-and-run crashes in the U.S. is increasing. In 2016, 2,049 people were killed in hit-and-run accidents. This was a 60 percent rise in the number of hit-and-run fatalities from 2009. Since 2009, the number of these types of accidents has been steadily decreasing. That was the last year the U.S. saw a downward trend. In almost 65 percent of hit and runs, it is pedestrians, like Garcia, and bicyclists who lose their lives. These individuals are most vulnerable, since drivers are less likely to see them than another vehicle. They are also more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries due to lacking the protection of a vehicle around them. Florida, just behind New Mexico and Louisiana, had the third highest per capita rate of hit-and-run deaths. New Hampshire, Maine, and Minnesota had the lowest rates.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Hit and Run
Once the driver of a hit and run is discovered, the surviving family members have a choice. Do they file a civil wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver? Most surviving relatives benefit from speaking with an experienced Miami wrongful death lawyer from Gerson & Schwartz P.A. An attorney can explain a family’s legal rights and options. If a parent, spouse, or child has a valid wrongful death claim, then an attorney can advise them on the potential value of their claim.
Every state, including Florida, has a wrongful death statute. In Florida, you will find the Wrongful Death Act in statutes §768.16 – 768.26. Florida law allows a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate to file a wrongful death claim and pursue compensation on behalf of the surviving family members. The decedent’s parent, spouse, or child does not file the lawsuit, though they may obtain compensation from a successful wrongful death claim.
Florida allows a personal representative to file a wrongful death claim when another person caused the decedent’s death due to their negligence, wrongful act, default, breach of contract, or breach of warranty. Also, a lawyer will review whether the decedent would have been able to file a personal injury claim had their lived. If so, there is likely a valid wrongful death claim.
Through a wrongful death claim related to a hit and run, the personal representative will pursue:
- Medical Expenses
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Pain and Suffering of the Survivors
- A Spouse’s Loss of Companionship
- Children’s Loss of Parental Guidance and Companionship
- Family’s Loss of Support and Services
Call a Miami Car Accident Lawyer For Help
If you lost your spouse, parent, or child in a hit-and-run accident, contact a Miami car accident attorney from Gerson & Schwartz P.A. toll free at (877) 475-2905. You can also reach out Miami-Dade County office at (305) 371-6000. We are here to help you understand and protect your legal rights during a difficult situation.