The roads of Florida are busy year-round and see millions of vehicles traveling across the state on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a high volume of traffic creates more potential for accidents to happen, many of which result in fatalities. In fact, statistics released by The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles state that over 3,000 accidents led to deaths in 2018. This is not to mention the thousands of accidents that left people with life-changing injuries.
It is crucial to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney if you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of another in St. Petersburg, FL. The charge you receive will depend on the circumstances under which the accident took place. However, you may be facing a second or first-degree felony that comes with heavy fines and long prison sentences. Not to mention the possibility that you are taken to civil court by the family of the victim, who may seek compensation for their loss. Plus, it is important to note that your intentions are irrelevant in the eyes of the law. That is to say that you will still face felony charges whether you intended to take someone’s life or not. If it is proven that your actions caused the fatal accident, you will be held responsible for any serious injuries or deaths that occurred as a result. Maybe you were driving under the influence or checking a message on your phone. Whatever the reason, your negligence will see you face the full extent of the law.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for causing a car accident that led to the death of another, you need the representation of a wrongful death attorney. At The Law Place, we have a team of lawyers with over 75 years of combined experience in representing people in your position. With some of the strongest defense attorneys in St. Petersburg, FL., we will fight on your behalf every step of the way, ensuring that you are receiving the best possible legal advice. The help of a wrongful death attorney may see your charges reduced or even dropped altogether. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so that you always have someone to call!
Negligence Under Florida Law
When a car accident occurs, it is usually due to the negligence of another driver. There are many possible ways for a driver to act negligently, and such behavior often leads to fatalities. Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care to the same extent that any other prudent driver would.
The law in Florida holds everyone to the same standard and, thus, the same punishment if the law is broken. Therefore, you will face the same consequences for accidentally causing a fatal car accident as someone who behaved with intent. In order to see that you are charged, the prosecution will present evidence that proves your actions were negligent or that you displayed a wanton disregard for the wellbeing of those around you. In doing so, the prosecution will prove that you broke the duty of care that you legally owed to others on the road. If it is proven that your actions were done whilst there was a foreseeable risk, you will face criminal charges for the damage that ensued, whether it was property damage, injuries, or death.
In order to prove that you broke your duty of care, acted negligently, and caused a car accident, the prosecution needs to show that:
- You owed the other driver a duty of care – The law requires you to conduct yourself in a way that ensures those around you are safe.
- You breached this duty – You failed to conduct yourself properly and, as a result, put others at risk.
- Your actions led to the accident – Your misconduct was the direct cause of the accident, which injured the victim.
- Your negligence caused injury or death – In breaching your duty of care, you caused an accident that led to injury or death for another.
Death Caused by Reckless or Careless Driving
If the prosecution is able to provide enough evidence that clearly demonstrates your negligence and culpability for an accident that involved a wrongful death in St. Petersburg, FL., then you will face criminal charges.
Proving that your actions were reckless or careless is how the prosecution will ensure that you are charged with negligence. Some examples of reckless driving include exceeding the speed limit, failing to obey traffic signals, such as stop signs, and tailgating other vehicles.
The law in Florida states that anyone in St. Petersburg who controls their vehicle “in a willful or wanton disregard” for the safety and wellbeing of fellow drivers will face charges for reckless driving, as per Florida Statute 316.192. Furthermore, if these actions led to the accidental death of another, then the punishment will be a third-degree felony charge which carries a prison sentence, fine, and lifelong criminal record, as set out under Florida Statutes 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084.
Death Caused by Driving Under the Influence (DUI Manslaughter)
You will face DUI manslaughter charges if an officer uses a breathalyzer or any other type of test to prove that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
Florida Statue 316.193 states that a person found in control of a vehicle whilst their blood alcohol level (BAC) is over 0.08%, or if they are under the influence of controlled or chemical substances, will face a DUI conviction. Furthermore, anyone who is caught driving under the influence after causing a fatal car accident faces a DUI manslaughter conviction, a second-degree felony, or in some cases, a first-degree felony.
Remember that felony charges are life-changing and will follow you for the rest of your life. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that resulted in the death of another, then you need a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer who has the experience to defend you in front of a judge and jury. Finding the right legal representation could be the difference between a lengthy jail sentence and freedom. Call The Law Place today and speak with one of our car accident attorneys today in a free consultation.
Aggravated Fleeing to Elude Law Enforcement in St. Petersburg, FL.
Florida Statue 316.1935 states that fleeing a law enforcement officer is illegal and punishable by law. You must comply when instructed to stop both yourself and your vehicle by a law enforcement officer. Failing to do so is breaking the law.
Often, in an attempt to elude police officers, people drive recklessly and create the potential for a serious car accident to occur. If an accident does occur, causing death or serious injury, the driver will be charged with aggravated fleeing to elude as per Florida Statute 316.061 and Florida Statute 316.027.
Leaving the Scene of a St. Petersburg Car Accident that Involved Serious Injury or Death
There are certain requirements that you must meet if you have been involved in a car accident that has injured another person. Failing to meet these requirements by leaving the scene of the accident means that you face a first-degree felony charge as detailed under Florida Statue 316.027.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you must:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident.
- Give assistance where necessary and possible.
- Swap names and contact details with anyone else affected by the accident.
- Call the police and report the accident.
At The Law Place, we understand that making all the right decisions following an accident is easier said than done. Many people have a fight or flight reaction and choose to escape the situation they are in. However, if you have left the scene of an accident and are now facing felony charges, do not panic. Our team of accident attorneys has experience in representing cases just like yours. Call us today and schedule a free consultation to find out what steps you can take next.
Wrongful Death Civil Lawsuits in St. Petersburg, FL.
The families of car accident victims have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court if their loved one’s death was caused by negligence, breach of contract, or wrongful action. There are many family members who are entitled to file this lawsuit, including spouses, children, and parents. Anyone who is a blood relative or adoptive sibling and is ‘partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for services or support’ has the right to seek justice and compensation, as per Florida Statute 768.19. The aim of this statute is to ensure that the families of victims are able to get compensation for their ordeal and also see that the person responsible faces criminal charges.
It is important to remember that you will be legally responsible for the compensation they are awarded as you can be sued by the victim’s family for a number of damages, including lost wages, medical bills, and funeral costs. However, Florida Statute 95.11 says that anyone intending to file a wrongful death lawsuit has two years to do so. Anyone who fails to meet this time requirement will no longer be eligible for compensation.
It can be complicated to build a strong defense for a wrongful death case. This is why you must ensure that you hire a wrongful death attorney with enough experience to build you a powerful defense. Call The Law Place today and arrange a free consultation where you will receive confidential and impartial advice. We will be honest with you every step of the way so that you always know exactly what is going on.
Penalties in a Fatal St. Petersburg Car Accident Case
When your charge is being determined, the court will look at many different factors before making a final decision. The circumstances that surround each case are different and should be considered with great care. For example, any previous criminal history may affect the final outcome of your case. There is always a chance that your wrongful death attorney is able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution and avoid your case going before a jury. However, if this does not happen, you may face felony charges:
- First-degree felony – This is the most serious of all the felony charges. This is given to cases in which a person has lost their lives or been seriously injured, usually to the point of permanent disability or disfigurement. The penalties for a first-degree felony conviction are a prison sentence of up to thirty years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony – The penalties for a second-degree felony are up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony – The penalties for a third-degree felony are up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Avoiding a felony charge should be your main priority when hiring the representation of a wrongful death attorney. As we have previously mentioned, the effects of a felony charge will stay with you forever. Having a criminal record for the rest of your life will make getting your life back on track extremely difficult. This is why you need an attorney with the skills to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor or dropped altogether. Call The Law Place and speak to a wrongful death attorney today.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction in St. Petersburg, FL.
If you are facing felony charges after causing the death of another in a car accident, then you may think that your punishment will be limited to the time you serve in prison. This is not true. The effects of a criminal charge will stay with you throughout the rest of your life, as a felony cannot be expunged from your record.
There are restrictions placed on felons in the State of Florida, even after their release from prison. These restrictions affect not only the felon themself but their family too. There are numerous examples, but some of the most notable are an inability to vote, difficulty finding worthwhile employment, and an inability to secure a bank loan.
Furthermore, Florida has recidivist sentencing schemes, also known as ‘three strikes and you’re out.’ Under Florida Statute 775.084, anyone who has two or more previous felony convictions may face a lengthy prison sentence, including a life sentence.
If you are facing a felony charge, your only chance of avoiding prison or a permanent criminal record is to hire a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Law Place for a free consultation today.
Defenses in a Fatal St. Petersburg Car Accident Case
Criminal defense cases are complicated at the best of times and become even more, so they involve wrongful death. Hiring a law firm with a team of experienced accident lawyers will be your best chance of building a strong defense. The following are examples of defenses commonly used in wrongful death cases:
- Comparative negligence – Your attorney may be able to prove that the deceased was partly responsible for their own death. Maybe they were breaking the speed limit or cycling on the road at night without appropriate lighting and clothing.
- Wrongfully accused – Your attorney may be able to collect enough evidence to prove that you were not responsible for the accident and have been wrongfully accused.
- No causation – In some cases, there may be enough evidence to prove that your actions were not the cause of the accident. In order for you to be convicted, the prosecution must show a clear link between your actions and the death of the victim. In finding flaws in their evidence, your attorney may be able to have your charges dropped.
- State of mind – There may be a way to prove that your state of mind at the time of the accident absolves you of responsibility. Maybe you had taken prescription medication that led to your impairment and ultimately caused the accident.
No matter the cause of your accident, you need the representation of a reputable St. Petersburg law firm. Our accident lawyers at The Law Place have the experience you need to prepare a strong defense that may see your life getting back to normal sooner than you expected.
Statute of Limitations in St. Petersburg Felony Cases
There is a statute of limitations placed on all criminal cases in the State of Florida. This means that there is a period of time in which a conviction must be made before the defendant can no longer be held responsible for a crime. This period begins from the time of the alleged crime taking place. Although, in cases where capital and life felonies have led to wrongful death, there is no statute of limitations.
First-degree felonies usually have a 4-year statute of limitations, whilst other felonies have only 3 years. However, the circumstances which surround a case may affect this time period.
Call The Law Place for a Free Consultation Today
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in St. Petersburg, FL. that resulted in the wrongful death of another, then you need the advice of an accident attorney as soon as possible. You may face penalties that change the course of your life forever and leave your family without your emotional and financial support. Furthermore, you may have to pay a huge fine as well as the compensation awarded to the victim’s family. This will undoubtedly add to the stress of the situation for both yourself and those closest to you.
At The Law Place, we have a team of wrongful death attorneys who have over 75 years of combined experience in defending people in a position just like yours. We value our attorney-client relationships above all else and guarantee that you will receive the best confidential advice possible. Let us help you to build a solid defense that will get your charges reduced and you back to your family.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so do not hesitate any longer! Contact us.