A late night accident on Saturday resulted in the death of three people in Lakeland, Florida. The accident was reported by The Ledger to have involved a high rate of speed. The accident happened at approximately 11:30 p.m. Michael Marrero, driving a Volkswagen, was traveling northbound on 98N when he crossed over the center and striking a Nissan Altima driven by Christopher Stewart. Kathrin Pitock and Brittany Lewis were both in the Nissan. All three occupants of the Nissan died. Lewis died at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. The Nissan rolled over as a result of the impact. Marrero was also taken to Lakeland Regional Medical center and has charges pending.
What Should Be Done When Intoxication Is Suspected?
The Ledger does not report whether intoxication was suspected or not. However, intoxication should have been suspected and investigated at a minimum. Section 316.1933, Florida Statutes, allows law enforcement with probable cause in an accident involving death or serious bodily injury to require the driver to submit to a blood test for purposes of determining the alcoholic content thereof or drugs. Florida law requires that only a physician, certified paramedic, registered nurse, licensed practice nurse, or other personnel authorized by a hospital to draw the blood. The statute further states that the failure of a law enforcement officer to request the withdrawal of blood shall not affect the admissibility of a test of blood withdrawn for medical purposes. Therefore, if Mr. Marrero was intoxicated, a proper investigation to the accident will reveal the truth. If evidence exists that Mr. Marrero was intoxicated, he will likely be charged with 3 counts of DUI manslaughter. On the other hand, if there is not evidence that Mr. Marrero was intoxicated, then Mr. Marrero will likely be charged with reckless driving, a criminal traffic violation.
Wrongful Death Claims In Florida
Regardless of intoxication, the 3 deaths involved in this car accident are considered wrongful deaths under the Florida law. There will be no-fault death benefits of $5,000 per death from the applicable insurance policy. In addition, there will likely be insurance limits available on behalf of Mr. Marrero for liability and possibly uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for some of the claimants. Most Florida automobile insurance policies consider any “resident, relative household member” an insured under the terms of the policy. Finding out how this applies may require the advice of Lakeland car accident lawyer. Further, as in any wrongful death case, a probate may need to be set up by a Lakeland wrongful death lawyer.