Crossover Accident on CR557 in Lake Alfred

Wrongful Death

A crossover car accident in Lake Alfred, Florida on January 23, 2017 at approximately 1:15 a.m. took the life of Joseph Senatus.  Senatus was 49 years old and died after another driver, Mario Alejandro Rodriguez, crossed over the center line of CR557 striking Senatus’s car.  Senatus was driving a 1994 Toyota Camry southbound on CR557 at the time of the accident.  Rodriguez was driving northbound in a 2002 GMC Yukon (in the picture) and had Ciara Rodriguez (17 years old) as a passenger.  The accident happened as Rodriguez approached a turn in the roadway crossing over the center line.  Ciara Rodriguez was ejected from Yukon.  The Ledger lists Mario Rodriguez as being from Winter Haven while Ciara Rodriguez is listed as being from Polk City.  Based on that information, it is not known whether Mario and Ciara related.  Mario and Ciara were transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with significant injuries.

Wrongful Death Cases In Florida

Senatus’s death is a wrongful death under Florida law as Mr. Rodriguez should not have crossed over the center line.  Doing so is negligence under Florida law and is the basis for a lawsuit against him.  His estate (or his survivors) are entitled to collect a $5,000 death benefit under Senatus’s own automobile insurance policy.  This benefit is paid as part of his no-fault benefits.  Secondly, Senatus’s survivors should bring a wrongful death claim against Rodriguez through his bodily injury liability coverage under his automobile insurance policy.  To do this, a probate should be opened to properly and formally settle the wrongful death claim.

What Was The True Cause Of The Crash?

As mentioned above, this accident happened when Rodriguez crossed over the center line during a turn.  From Google Maps, the turn is very slight and would not have been needed to maintain a high rate of speed.  Therefore, this accident was more likely caused by distracted driving than reckless driving.  Also, impaired driving should be properly investigated by the police (even though The Ledger does not mention impairment by alcohol or drugs).  No mechanical or component failure was listed as a cause of this accident.

There Might Not Be Enough Insurance

The wrongful death of anyone creates a legal liability that often exceeds the insurance limits of the person who caused the accident.  Assuming that Senatus has underinsured motorist’s coverage (UM) on his automobile insurance policy (or lives with a family member who has it), then a claim can be made against the UM portion of the policy for Senatus’s wrongful death.  Upon making a UM claim, the insurance company has a 60 day “safe harbor” in which to pay policy limits to the proper party.  Thereafter, a claim for insurance bad faith may exist for failure to act fairly and honestly toward their insured.

Call A Lakeland Car Accident Attorney To Discuss Your Case

If you have questions about a death in a car accident, you should contact a Lakeland wrongful death attorney to discuss the case.  A consultation with an attorney is free.


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January 23, 2017