Wrongful Death Suits
Suicide threats are serious business, as Marion County officials are learning after an incident involving sheriff’s deputies and County paramedics. Trying to second-guess a woman’s intent by looking at the evidence and listening to her husband wound up putting them smack dab in the middle of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Details of the Case
The sad story unfolded thusly: a Marion county woman swallowed an undetermined amount of pills, followed by what appeared to be two small bottles of liquor. When she confessed what she’d done to her husband, he immediately called 911. When emergency personnel arrived, they found the woman only semi-conscious, with an expired pill bottle that was empty, along with two empty liquor bottles nearby. Additionally, there was a note saying that she was sorry, although for what, exactly, was not clear. Her husband explained to officials that his wife had experienced mental health issues in the past, and that she had been held in protective custody by virtue of the Baker Act once before. He didn’t believe she would put herself in a situation to warrant such a move again.
Officials digested this information, along with the facts on the scene, and determined that it would be safe to leave the woman at home with her husband. In a matter of hours, she was deceased. Had emergency responders taken the woman to the hospital, she likely would have recovered and received treatment for her emotional issues. Instead, the county was forced to deal with the fact that she had 30 times the normal dose of an antidepressant in her bloodstream, which led to her untimely death.
Because Marion County is protected by Florida’s sovereign immunity cap of $200,000, the county council approved a wrongful death settlement with the woman’s estate for $190,000. Absent the cap, damages had the potential to climb much higher. Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office is awaiting a similar claim. The employees involved in the incident have been disciplined.
This horrendous account sounds like it’s perhaps an example of extreme circumstances. Then again, isn’t every situation that results in a fatality extreme? Under Florida statute, when a death is the result of intentional or negligent behavior, or when a trusted source breaches their duty of care, or even when product defaults lead to a fatality, a wrongful death case may be the appropriate recourse. The array of circumstances that meet the criteria for a wrongful death lawsuit is vast, but only a knowledgeable and experienced Florida attorney can sift through the facts of a case in order to accurately determine its viability in a court of law. If you believe you have such a case, it is important to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of the aggressive Kissimmee wrongful death attorneys at the Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the statute of limitations to tie your hands. Call us today.