Celeste Gaitan, age 33 and pregnant, was killed in Miami, Florida, when she was run over by an SUV driven by Pedro Ruiz. Ruiz is the father of Salsa singer Rey Ruiz whose albums have gone gold and platinum through Latin America.
According to news reports, the older Pedro Ruiz was trying to park his SUV in front of Celeste Gaitan’s boutique, “Celeste and Co. Boutique,” when he accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes. This caused him to lose control of the vehicle as it unexpectedly lunged forward.
As an injury lawyer, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this case will settle out of court. However, to obtain the best settlement possible, Celeste Gaitan’s family and the family of the other deceased woman need to hire a very experienced injury attorney right away because the issues in this case require knowledge and experience to handle correctly.
At the time when Ruiz lost control of the SUV, Gaitan and the unnamed woman were sitting on a bench outside of the boutique minding their own business. Horrifically, the SUV jumped the curb and crashed into Gaitan and the other unnamed woman head on. The SUV then continued through the boutique’s glass window and eventually came to a stop half way into the storefront.
Gaitan and the other woman were declared deceased at the scene of the accident.
Following the SUV crash, salsa singer Rey Ruiz issued the following statement:
“I know that at such a painful moment, words are not enough, but I want to express on behalf of my family, my parents and myself, from the bottom of our hearts, our deepest and sincere condolences to the families of these people who accidentally lost their lives today.”
This case is incredibly horrific and involves a number of very complex legal issues. While the Ruiz family may be eager to settle quickly, the amount of that settlement is subject to negotiation between Celeste Gaitan and the unnamed woman’s lawyers and Pedro Ruiz’s lawyers.
Making a quick settlement is not always desirable. Good injury lawyers will not sacrifice a quality settlement just to finish the case quickly. Sometimes these cases need to be fought in court to force the other side into the best settlement possible for the victims.
First of all, any settlement on Celeste Gaitan’s behalf must consider the huge economic losses that exist as a result of her untimely death at such a young age. These losses must also consider the earning potential of her business over the course of her working life. Since Celeste Gaitan was only 33, a full evaluation of her business’s profitability and growth potential over the next 30 years will need to be done.
Second, the fact that Gaitan was pregnant makes this case even worse. Losing a child is horrific under any circumstance, but when that child is unborn, the damage takes on an even more offensive element.
Based on the facts presented in the media, I expect Pedro Ruiz to be liable to Celeste Gaitan not only for her death, but for her unborn child’s death, and her lost earnings as a small business owner for the next 30 years.
In regards to the unnamed woman, more information will be needed to analyze the extent of her rightful settlement. Clearly, her death will force a rather substantial settlement. However, the question is how much more can that settlement be increased considering her economic losses or any other losses that may be included.
For example, if either woman was married, their respective spouses will have a claim for losing their life partner. Additionally, children of the deceased may have a claim for losing a parent.
My perspective as an injury lawyer is to analyze these cases to identify any and all sources of potential compensation for the victims.
No amount of money will ever, under any circumstances, make this right or truly compensate Celeste Gaitan’s and the unnamed woman for the loss of their lives.
However, there are a number of very real practical matters that must be addressed. Dependents may now be missing a breadwinner and loved ones are now missing someone very close and dear to them.
This case must be handled by an injury lawyer that not only knows what he/she is doing, but who is motivated by doing what he/she can to help the victims.
Injury lawyers are usually compensated on a contingency basis only. This means that the families of Celeste Gaitan and the unnamed woman will not need to pay out of pocket for the injury lawyer’s services. Rather, injury lawyers are usually compensated by a limited percentage of the monies obtained on behalf of the client. Additionally, any expenses incurred will usually be refunded to the injury lawyer from the proceeds of any settlement.
Given the nature of this case, I would expect a good injury lawyer to settle this matter quicky and at minimal cost.
The Ruiz family seems like they are genuinely hurt by what happened and are handling this matter as decent people. Making the statement they did is commendable. Hopefully they will direct their attorneys to treat Celeste Gaitan’s family and the unnamed woman’s family with the respect they deserve and authorize a fair settlement as quickly as possible.
As an injury lawyer, I get the most personal satisfaction from fighting for the victims of cases like these, especially when someone has been killed. My condolences go out to the families and loved ones of the deceased. Hopefully their pain and suffering will subside quickly and in turn, be replaced by fond memories of those who have passed.