The innocent driver in a DUI accident on SR 60 at Falkenburg Road on January 4, 2017 died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. This accident happened when Johnathan Honza was headed westbound on SR60 and ran a red light. The accident happened at approximately 3:23 a.m. Honza is 28 years old and had been drinking prior to the crash. Honza’s vehicle struck the driver’s side of the other vehicle. The victim in the other vehicle, Dontae Hill, was taken to Tampa General hospital where he died. Honza sustained serious injuries in the crash. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating this crash.
Innocent Driver Would Not Have Been Able to Avoid
There is no doubt that Mr. Honza’s negligence caused this car accident as he ran the red light. From the photographs, this accident likely happened at a speed far greater than the posted speed limit. This is frequently the case with DUI drivers who are impaired to the point where their judgment of speed and traffic lights is clearly lacking. The death of Dontae Hill is tragic as he appears to have done nothing wrong and likely could not have anticipated that a vehicle would blow through the intersection at a high rate of speed. When Mr. Hill would have seen his light change from red to green, Honza would have been far enough down the road to where someone legally entering the intersection would not be able to appreciate the speed and lack of ability to stop for a red light. At the earliest, Hill would have already been in the intersection before realizing that Honza was not going to stop and any evasive action at that point would be very difficult or impossible.
Wrongful Death At The Hands Of A DUI Driver
Honza will likely face DUI manslaughter charges as a result of this incident and should be sued for his insurance limits plus any assets that may be collectible by civil judgment. While Florida law permits the estate of the innocent driver to sue Honza for punitive damages for driving while intoxicated, the realistic situation is that Honza will likely put any collectible assets that he has toward a defense in a criminal case hoping that he can get either a plea bargain or conviction of only a lesser charge. Regardless, the innocent driver’s death is considered a wrongful death under Florida law and his survivors, possibly a spouse or minor child, will be able to make claims under Florida law.
TGH Hospital Lien
One catch for the victim’s family is that TGH is a lien hospital, meaning that it has a right to claim a portion of any settlement with Honza by local ordinance. Dontae Hill’s family may need assistance dealing with that lien in the appropriate manner to reach a fair and equitable result. While TGH has a right to a portion of the settlement, their rights are subject to Florida’s collateral source statute codified in section 627.736, Fla. Stat. Their right of reimbursement should account for the claimant’s attorney fees and costs as well as any limiting factors such as liability limits below the full value of the case (determined by if the case went to a jury trial).
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Hillsborough: Adamo & Falkenburg – 2 vehicle crash w/ 2 seriously injured. Intersection closed, seek other routes. pic.twitter.com/vliqsNv6cz
— Sgt. Steve Gaskins (@SteveG717) January 4, 2017