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The wife of deceased triathlete Jared Bynum was recently awarded $4 million in the wrongful death lawsuit stemming from his fatal bicycle accident in 2012. The case was filed against both the motorist that struck and killed her husband as well as the developer of the highway.
While the driver alleged that the sun was in their eyes, the developer, with the support of public investigators, claimed that Mr. Bynum should never have been on the roadway. Fortunately for the widow of the deceased, a jury didn't find these arguments convincing enough. Though the developer entity was not found liable, the jury indicated that driver was liable for the accident, and the developer's engineer was liable for the lack of signage.
Details of the Accident
While training for a triathlon in Jacksonville, Mr. Bynum was approximately 30 miles into a 100 mile bike ride in the middle of a sunny day. He entered a limited access roadway, and while riding along the side of the road, was struck from behind, and killed upon impact, by a 21 year old driver in a SUV.
The roadway was not considered safe for bicyclists, but did not have appropriate signage or warnings for bicyclists. In 2012, when the accident occurred, investigators found both Mr. Bynum, as well as the driver, to be both at fault.
Wrongful Death Actions
Under state law, when a person dies as a result of the negligence, or intentional actions, of another, a wrongful death lawsuit can often be filed by a surviving spouse, parents or children, or sometimes other relatives. Additionally, just because a person dies, that does not mean an individual personal injury claim dies as well. A person's estate, and therefore their beneficiaries, can also maintain a deceased personal injury action to cover past medical and other actual expenses incurred as a result of the injury, as well as potentially the deceased's pain and suffering while alive.
Usually, only if the death was intentional, malicious, grossly negligent, or involved some form of impropriety, will punitive damages be available. Otherwise, damages may be limited to actual economic damages, as well as emotional distress, or pain and suffering, damages.