Wrongful Death Caused by a Hurricane – Who Is Liable?
This year’s hurricane season has reached historic proportions. Florida is still cleaning up from Irma, all while keeping a wary eye on the storms that continue to brew far out in the ocean. Irma brought destruction to our state and many citizens are still dealing with the aftermath. Unfortunately, some lost their lives in the powerful storm. If you lost a loved one in a hurricane, you might wonder if you have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Who is liable for your loved ones when a natural disaster strikes? There’s no simple answer. However, these examples might illuminate how a wrongful death case might work following a hurricane:
Liability for Senior Home Wrongful Death
Our senior citizens are some of our nation’s most vulnerable individuals. Many nursing home residents were under evacuation order in the days and hours preceding hurricane Irma, which presented some logistical issues for decision makers. Moving elderly patients, especially those with advanced medical needs, can be dangerous. Some might even debate the merits of moving them since many area nursing homes are built to withstand hurricane force winds.
However, the true danger lies in power outages. Without access to power, nursing home facilities will be unable to provide essential services such as oxygen administration, mobile assistance, and more.
No matter where residents are located, the professional staff who cares for them must adhere to a certain level of care. If they deviate from this standard and a loved one dies, it may be grounds for a wrongful death claim. Keep in mind, however, that the circumstances will vary substantially given the details of the case.
Plaintiffs Claim $13.3 Million in Wrongful Death Suits Following Hurricane Katrina
Last December, 15 plaintiffs won a collective $13.3 million dollars following an incident in the wake of Hurricane Katrina over a decade ago. The incident involved police officers who, falsely believing fellow officers had been attacked, began shooting indiscriminately at pedestrians at the Danzinger Bridge on September 4, 2005. After learning of their mistake, officers attempted to burn one of the victim’s body in a vehicle.
This is one horrifying example of the violence that took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. For the victim’s families, this settlement doesn’t stop their grieving, but it does offer some solace in that such a tragedy will be less likely to happen again. The four people the police killed were only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the actions of the police officers represented gross negligence.
In sum, there are any number of reasons why someone might be liable for a death following a hurricane. The government is responsible for making the right decisions and facilitating evacuation efforts in the area. If your loved one is in a home, staff is responsible for maintaining a certain level of care (or maintaining a reasonable effort to do so). If they don’t, they may be guilty of negligence, and the victim’s family may have grounds for a wrongful death suit. Since these cases vary so widely, it’s best to discuss your options with a wrongful death attorney at SteinLaw Miami as soon as possible.