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Jury says Florida hotel shares some responsibility in fatal crash

When a wrongful death claim is filed against several parties, one of the duties of a jury is to assign a percentage of liability, if any, to each defendant. The amount of any award determined by the jury is then split among the defendants according to those percentages. For example, a jury recently decided that a Florida hotel was partially responsible for a fatal crash that occurred on March 18, 2012. The hotel's liability was determined to be 15 percent; when translated into a dollar amount, the hotel's portion of the $24 million award is approximately $3.6 million. The remaining 85 percent of the award was assessed against the driver.

A man and his wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time, were at the hotel here in Florida for a marriage conference. As the man's wife sat in a cabana by the hotel pool, a vehicle careened over a sidewalk, jumped a curb and smashed into the cabana. The pregnant woman and her unborn child were both killed in the crash, which was caused by a drunk driver. The man only suffered minor injuries since he was a few feet away in a restroom when the accident happened.

The widower argued that the hotel knew that the location of the cabana put anyone inside it at risk. The cabana was situated near a sharp curve in the road, and no protective barrier was erected to protect hotel guests from being hit by vehicles. The hotel maintains that it does not have any responsibility for this tragedy and intends to appeal the jury's verdict.

When a loved one is killed in a fatal crash due to the negligence of another, surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties whose actions caused or contributed to the crash. In some cases, this includes more than just a driver. To prevail against any party, it will be necessary to establish negligence that is found to have caused or contributed to the fatal accident.

Source:, "Jury awards $24 million to widower in fatal cabana crash", Emily Miller, June 25, 2015

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