Authorities say 32-year-old Danielle Nichole Baldwin and her fiance, Sondroz Steven Olivert, 35, were killed when the drunk driver rear-ended Olivert’s vehicle. The impact by the drunk driver’s Kia caused Olivert’s Nissan to crash into a Chrysler. After that impact, the alleged drunk driver slammed into two other vehicles.
Olivert and Baldwin, who were on their way to celebrate their anniversary, were pronounced dead at the hospital. A relative of Baldwin told a reporter the two loved going to the beach and were planning to be married next year.
Meanwhile, investigators say the driver of that Kia fled the scene of the crash. He was, however, found a short time later and transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Without explaining how they reached this conclusion, investigators said they believe alcohol played a role in this series of crashes. However, no charges have been filed.
In a case like this, there may be a number of avenues for our wrongful death attorneys to pursue compensation for loved ones left behind.
First, of course, is the alleged drunk driver and his or her insurer. However in too many of these cases, drivers who flee the scene of a crash don’t have insurance to begin with.
There are a few options victims have at that point. First, it’s worthwhile to note that debt incurred in a DUI accident (i.e., by a DUI personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit) is not dischargable per 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(9).
Unfortunately in many cases, DUI defendants do not have any noteworthy assets or income from which to collect.
Victims could then look at who owned the vehicle. If it was someone other than the driver, there may be grounds for a vicarious liability action. Vicarious liability can be asserted even when the defendant was not directly negligent. Motor vehicles are considered a dangerous instrumentality in Florida, which means owners can be held responsible if the vehicle was entrusted to someone who drove it carelessly or recklessly.
DUI accident victims could also explore the possibility of a dram shop law action. This is when the bar that served the drunk driver before he or she got behind the wheel is held liable for the injuries that result when that patron drove drunk. In Florida, such liability can only be imposed when the accused driver was either:
- Under 21-years-old;
- Known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.
Finally, victims will want to look at the uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/ UIM) coverage that applied to those involved. These policies will step in to provide coverage for serious injuries and wrongful death when the at-fault driver either:
- Had no car insurance;
- Did not have enough car insurance to fully cover the damages inflicted by drunk driving.
Although the driver may face criminal charges, this is separate from any civil liability that may be imposed by the families of the victims.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Couple Killed in Crash in Fort Lauderdale, May 1, 2016, By Erika Pesantes, Sun Sentinel
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