Out Of Control Car Kills Pedestrian On Sidewalk At Beacon Road

Wrongful Death

Steven Higgins died on April 17, 2017 after being struck as a pedestrian on the sidewalk of Beacon Road in Lakeland, Florida.  The accident happened at approximately 4:44 p.m. when a 2001 Nissan Sentra driven by Steven Statterfield lost control of his vehicle and struck a street sign before hitting Higgins.  Statterfield’s car finally came to a stop after hitting a house.

Higgins was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center where he died.  Prior to the accident, Higgins was at the Super Stop Food Store.

Legal Responsibility Of Driver

As this is a one-vehicle accident, Mr. Statterfield’s negligence is most likely going to be found to be the cause of the crash.  At rush hour, distracted driving is a possibility.  There is no report of a sudden medical emergency involving Statterfield, who is only 29 years old.

Making A Claim For Wrongful Death

In Florida, the proper way to bring a wrongful death claim is through a duly appointed personal representative.  However, that process can take too long even if all of Mr. Higgins’ survivors agree on who that person should be.  A reasonable thing to do under the circumstances is for the survivors to retain one attorney and agree on who the putative personal representative should be.  Thereafter, the attorney for the estate will make a demand against Statterfield’s insurance company and any other responsible party who may pay damages.  This is a case where Statterfield’s insurance company should pay policy limits and agree to pay costs for opening a probate so that the claim can be properly settled under Florida law.

In addition to a liability claim, Mr. Higgins’ estate may be able to collect a $5,000 death benefit under an applicable Florida no-fault automobile insurance policy.  This may be a family member that Higgins lives with who owns a car or it may be Statterfield’s own automobile insurance policy.  Florida’s no-fault automobile statute can be found in section 627.736, Fla. Stat.

It is important to mention that no-fault death benefits in Florida are payable “in addition” to medical benefits.  This means that a large bill with LRMC will not prevent the recovery of the death benefit by the family.  In addition, the no-fault death benefit may be paid to:

  1. to the executor or administrator of the deceased
  2. to any of the deceased’s relatives by blood, legal adoption, or marriage; or
  3. to any person appearing to the insurer to be equitably entitled to such benefits

As such, a funeral home may be “equitably entitled” to receive no-fault benefits and many funeral homes will allow the family of the deceased to fund the funeral with such benefits.

Help From A Lakeland Personal Injury Attorney

If you have questions regarding a wrongful death case in Lakeland, Florida, you should contact a Lakeland personal injury attorney to get a free consultation.  An appointment with an attorney is free.  Contact us today to schedule your free case review.


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April 18, 2017