Jeffrey Phillips was hit by a car crossing US92 on January 19, 2020 by a Hyundai Sonata driven by Ashley Farrow as reported by The Ledger. News reports stated that Phillips died from injuries sustained in the accident.
The local news report indicates Phillips was walking from the M&M mobile home park to a Sunoco gas station when he was hit and also indicates that “Farrow didn’t see Phillips until he was in her lane of travel.” The news report also states that Farrow “didn’t have time to take evasive action” and that Phillips may have been impaired by alcohol.
This is the type of accident where the insurance company will make an offer of settlement despite the claims of the driver. In doing so, the insurance company intends to secure a release for the driver and provide closure to the incident. Florida follows a comparative fault model of legal liability for car accidents.
Further, Florida has a defense for intoxication by alcohol or drugs in section 768.36, Fla. Stat. As such, the alcohol or drug defense would place a bar on the plaintiff’s recovery for comparative fault of 50% or more in a case such as this. In other words, if a jury found Phillips’ intoxication was 50% or more of the cause of this collision, then his estate and survivors would be entitled to nothing in their wrongful death claim.
On the other hand, if the jury finds that the plaintiff is less than 50% responsible due to intoxication, then the case remains a comparative fault case and the jury’s award is reduced by any degree of comparative fault found. This type of uncertainty is why cases often settle.
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