Fort Lauderdale Hotel Found Partially Liable in Wrongful Death Case

Aug. 13th, 2015   /   , , ,

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Our Delray Beach personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green have written extensively about wrongful death issues and cases before on this blog. In this post, we are going to explore a case which ended with a significant jury award for a Broward County man who lost his wife when a drunk driver smashed into a cabana at a Fort Lauderdale hotel in 2012.

Let’s quickly recap the definition of a wrongful death claim. Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a legal claim that can be made against a person or company, etc., who or which can be held liable for a death. The person filing the wrongful death claim must have suffered damages as a result of the wrongful death; this is why it is almost always family members of the victim suing in the aftermath of a wrongful death.

In this case, which went to trial before a Broward County jury, it was the husband of a woman killed while at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale who filed the wrongful death lawsuit. Back in 2012, as our Delray Beach personal injury and wrongful death attorneys know, the man’s pregnant wife had stepped into a cabana at the Fort Lauderdale hotel, when an intoxicated driver crashed into the poolside cabana, killing the 26-year-old woman and her unborn son, who had been given the name Joshua. (The husband was in the men’s room a few feet away and escaped the tragic accident with minor injuries.)

At the conclusion of the six-day trial, the jury awarded the husband $24 million and assigned a 15% liability to the Riverside Hotel, putting them on the hook for $3.6 million. The remaining 85% liability was assigned to the drunk driver who sped over the sidewalk and smashed into the cabana; the driver had a BAC level three times the legal limit at the time of the accident. Having pled guilty to two counts of DUI manslaughter (for the deaths of both the woman and her unborn son, with whom she was seven months pregnant), the driver, who herself was five months pregnant at the time of sentencing, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The rationale behind the drunk driver’s liability is clear, but what about that of the hotel? As our Delray Beach personal injury and wrongful death lawyers know, the husband’s attorney argued during the trial that the hotel was aware of the clear danger posed by the road adjacent to the cabana and that it should have constructed a barrier separating the heavily-traveled road and the cabana in order to properly protect guests. The cabana in which the pregnant woman died was situated just off a sharp curve in the road. Because of the fact that the hotel apparently ignored the dangers, and failed to properly protect hotel guests, the jury decided the hotel was 15% responsible for the death of the woman and her unborn son.

No jury award can bring the husband’s wife and unborn son back to life; that said, a large jury award such as the one in this case could make it easier for the husband to move ahead with his life and continue the grieving process. The jury award can and likely will also cause other hotels to look at their safety policies and make adjustments so that their guests are as safe as possible; after all, other hotels don’t want to be found liable for the wrongful deaths of any of their guests.

If you have any questions about this case or about wrongful death in general, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com. We look forward to assisting you.

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