I was so saddened to read a piece in the Orlando Sentinel and other local media outlets about a tragic pedestrian wrongful death, caused by a drunk driver. Apparently 22-year old Daniel Byron was crossing Highway A1A (North Atlantic Avenue) at First Street North in Daytona Beach when he was hit by Justin Burson, of Kissimmee. Mr. Byron was badly injured at the scene, was taken to Cape Canaveral Hospital, and later died there. Mr. Burson apparently left the scene of the impact, but was later apprehended and determined to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
First, our hearts go out to Mr. Byron’s family. Twenty-two years old is awfully young – far too young to die so prematurely in a crash like one. As we all know, drunk driving crashes are rarely purely accidental. The drunk driver has almost always made several horrible choices leading up to the horribly destructive crash. In Florida, horrible choices like these expose drunk drivers to punitive damages. Punitive damages are those damage designed to punish the wrong-doer, and not necessarily compensate the injured person or his or her surviving family. It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Burson ever faces punitive damages for his actions here.
As an Orlando accident attorney, I know that Mr. Byron’s family now faces a host of potentially confusing insurance issues. First, Mr. Byron’s family may be entitled to a death benefit under his own automobile insurance coverage (if he had a vehicle), pursuant to the Personal Injury Protection provision, in order to pay any outstanding medical bills or funeral expenses. His family may also have a claim against Mr. Burson’s bodily injury liability coverage – if Mr. Burson carried any. Finally, Mr. Byron’s family may be entitled to Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist benefits under his own policy of insurance. Uninsured Motorist coverage steps into the shows of an uninsured negligent driver.
Hopefully Mr. Byron’s family will know to ask the right questions of the insurance companies involved, so that they do not forfeit any of the benefits they are entitled to. If not, I hope they find an attorney who is experienced in handling wrongful death claims and insurance disputes.
For answers to questions about a Florida car accident or Florida automobile insurance issues, or for information about what to ask an attorney before hiring one to handle a personal injury case, call Orlando accident lawyer Kim Cullen at 407-644-4444, or download a FREE copy of Kim’s book, Asleep At The Wheel.