After an accidental death, family members of the deceased frequently have many questions, including: what happened, who is responsible, and can the responsible person be held accountable. An immediate and effective investigation is necessary to answer these questions, provide comfort to family members of the deceased and to successfully pursue a Florida wrongful death action.
Following Florida motor vehicle crashes which result in fatalities or nearly fatal injuries, the police or Florida Highway Patrol will typically conduct a Traffic Homicide Investigation which may involve measuring skid marks, taking photographs of the vehicles and scene of the accident, obtaining statements from witnesses, and otherwise attempting to reconstruct the accident. The Florida Highway Patrol has a Traffic Homicide Investigations Unit throughout the state to conduct these investigations.
In addition to the police or FHP investigation, it’s important that experienced Florida wrongful death attorneys coordinate an independent investigation of the crash. Attorneys frequently use the police or FHP investigation as a starting point for their own wrongful death investigation. Experts, including specially trained engineers such as accident reconstructionists, may be employed to conduct independent traffic accident investigation and reconstruction focused on determining how the crash occurred: what was the speed and direction of each of the vehicles, the exact location where the impact occurred, the speed at impact, was either vehicle braking at impact, and other information that may be important to determine the extent to which each person was responsible for the fatality.
This type of investigation frequently requires that physical evidence be preserved. Accordingly, Florida wrongful death attorneys are experienced at quickly and cost-effectively preserving wrecked vehicles and other evidence and ensuring that other parties fulfill their legal obligation to preserve important evidence. If a party fails to preserve evidence, when they are legally obligated to do so, then a destruction of evidence claim (known as “spoliation”) may be brought against the party that destroyed or failed to preserve evidence. Experienced Florida wrongful death attorneys promptly notify parties of their obligation to preserve evidence to ensure that important evidence is preserved and to protect important legal rights.
It is vital that investigators immediately locate witnesses and obtain statements. Florida wrongful death cases commonly take more than one year to pursue. In the interim, witnesses move away, pass away, or their memory of the accident simply fades away. A witness statement obtained shortly after the accident while the witness is available and their memory is fresh is very helpful.
Our experienced Florida wrongful death lawyers have decades of experience supervising investigations in cases involving accidental deaths and significant injuries. We employ both in-house and outside investigators who are former police detectives with tremendous investigative experience and who share our passion to seek justice for our clients and to hold wrongdoers accountable.