About a week ago, a Florida district court upheld a jury verdict awarding the family of a man killed by police $2.26 million. According to a report by CBS 12 News, the man was killed after he was involved in an altercation with police that he may have started. Evidently, the man was shouting at traffic and acting “strangely” when police approached him.
One thing led to another, and the encounter escalated. Police eventually shot the man, mortally wounding him. As he was dying, one or more police officers repeatedly shocked the man using their stun guns. The man soon died from his injuries.
At trial, the man’s family claimed that the actions of the police were excessive and filed a wrongful death suit against the government. After hearing the evidence, the jury determined that the use of the stun gun constituted “excessive and objectively unreasonable force,” awarding them $2.26 million. The district court judge upheld the jury’s verdict. A spokesperson for the police force indicated that it plans to appeal the decision.
Wrongful Death Actions in Florida
In Florida, when one person’s negligent or reckless actions cause the death of another, the deceased party’s family may bring what is called a wrongful death action to recover for their losses. While it is impossible to assign a dollar amount to the loss of a human life, it is unfortunately the only consolation surviving family members of fatal accidents have.
Generally speaking, the lawsuit must be brought by someone who is related to the deceased. However, under some circumstances more distant relations can bring suit. In addition, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligent or reckless actions caused their loved one’s death. In that sense, a wrongful death action is similar to a traditional negligence action.
Wrongful Death Claims Against Government Officials
While it is true that government officials enjoy immunity in some circumstances, it is not always the case. Generally speaking, a government actor only enjoys immunity if he or she is acting within the scope of their employment. For example, a police officer’s job requires them to use force in some situations. Under normal circumstances, therefore, a police officer cannot be held liable for the use of reasonable force. However, the job does not require—or permit—the use of “excessive or objectively unreasonable force.” Therefore, the plaintiff above was able to recover based on the officers’ conduct.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Florida Accident?
If you have recently lost a loved one in a Florida accident, it is undoubtedly a difficult time for you and your family. When the time is right, consider speaking to an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney about the prospect of bringing a wrongful death action against the person or people responsible for the death of your loved one. The dedicated attorneys at the Dean Law Firm understand how difficult this time can be, and will do everything they can to make sure that the process is as painless as possible. Click here, or call 352-387-8700 to speak to a dedicated personal injury attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Florida Court Explains When the Procedural Requirements for Medical Malpractice Cases Apply, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 29, 2014.
Pothead Princess Claims She Can’t Remember Causing the Traffic Accident that Killed Two, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 27, 2014.