Wildy Salabarria Serrano was tragically killed in a car accident in LaBelle, Florida yesterday afternoon. Her passenger, Aliuska Perez Blanco suffered serious injuries and was transported to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment. Sadly, this car accident involved two other vehicles as well. Motorist Edgar Mottley was also seriously injured and is being treated at Lee Memorial hospital as well.
According to news reports, the car accident was caused by Mark Kurdziel, 57, of Clewiston, Florida when he allegedly crossed the center lane on S.R. 80 and crashed head-on into Edgar Mottley’s Chevy Camaro.
After crashing into Edgar Mottley’s Chevy Camaro is accused of continuing on causing a second head-on crash with Wildy Salabarria Serrano’s Honda Civic.
This horrible case is the fourth fatal accident we have reported on this week alone. Even though I follow these cases as an personal injury attorney, this case is yet another reminder of how dangerous Florida’s roadways are.
Understanding the law, as it applies to multi-victim car accidents like this, is the first step in any legal analysis. As we have mentioned countless times on this blogs, the surviving heirs of victims in fatal car accidents are entitled to make claims based on Florida’s wrongful death statute.
For a claim to succeed, even if it for serious bodily injury and not wrongful death, a case must present the three elements of a winning case:
- Proof of Negligence
- Proof of Injury
Whether a claim is based on wrongful death by an heir or a person who sustained a serious bodily injury, the very first thing to establish in any case is that the responsible party did something wrong to cause the car crash. In law, this is referred to as “negligence.”
Based on the information reported in the media, I strongly suspect that proof of negligence is evident in this case because Mark Kurdziel clearly crossed the center lane and caused two head-on collisions. The second he crossed that center lane, he became responsible for any injuries he caused as a result.
This leads me to the next point.
Proving loss of life and serious injury in this case also seems pretty straight forward. From a legal perspective, loss of life is clearly the worst possible type of injury. From there, serious bodily injury is second. To prove serious bodily injury, an injury attorney will need to build a case for his/her client using medical records and the expert opinions of the client’s treating physicians. Such evidence may include the following:
- Medical Expenses
- Future Medical Treatment
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Loss of Consortium (sexual intimacy)
- Medical Equipment Expense
Ultimately, an injury attorney wants to build a comprehensive portfolio of the client’s injury and medical history in regards to the accident so that the value of the client’s claim can be maximized.
Again, I strongly suspect that this case will present ample evidence of injury that will make for very substantial claims by those who survived the car accident.
Finally, and probably the most important practical matter in any claim made following a fatal car accident is the issue of collectability. This issue concerns the responsible party’s ability to actually pay monetary compensation to the people he/she harmed.
When it comes to car accident litigation, most claims are paid for by insurance. For that reason, this claim will likely come down to two factors:
1) The extent of liability coverage maintained by Mark Kurdziel.
2) The extent/presence of any uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage held by Wildy Salabarria Serrano, Aliuska Perez Blanco, and Edgar Mottley.
Again, from a legal perspective, the case for compensation sounds like it will come down to collectability. This isn’t a case where negligence or injury seems to be at issue.
To maximize the compensation for the surviving heirs of Wildy Salabarria Serrano and for Aliuska Perez Blanco and Edgar Mottley (who lived, but sustained serious injuries), injury attorneys will need to first determine what insurance companies, if any, insure Mark Kurdziel. Second, injury attorneys will need to assess the insurance policies held by the victims for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Third, insurance companies need to be contacted and engaged to begin the negotiation process.
Given the nature of liability and injuries/loss of life caused in this case, I would expect an injury attorney to negotiate a settlement to policy limits with any reputable or big name insurance company.
Legal talk aside, this is the third case we have learned of this week where a person was killed on Florida’s roadways. It is only Thursday and so far six people are dead. See the following entries for our reports on the other cases:
I don’t know what the answer is, but the constant loss of life on Florida’s roadways is nothing short of tragic.
My condolences go out to all of those who have lost a loved one or who have suffered serious injury on our roadways this week.