Someone telling you that you are entitled to a large sum of money is not the same as actually having the money in your bank account. If all the statements on loan advertisements that said “Congratulations! These $40,000 are now yours,” followed by lots of fine print, were true, we would all be rich. In a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, the judge rules that the defendant must pay damages to the defendant if the plaintiff can show that the defendant’s negligence caused the injury or death that led to the plaintiff’s financial losses, but the story does not always end there. The process of collecting the damages awarded to you can be time-consuming. A South Florida wrongful death attorney can help you navigate the process of recovering compensation for a preventable loss, from filing the lawsuit to seeing the funds in your bank account.
Details of the Lesniak Case
In November 2013, Peter Ferreira ran a stop sign at the intersection of Tahiti Road and Bayport Avenue on Marco Island. He collided with another car, and its driver, 91-year-old Theresa Lesniak, was killed on impact. Ferreira faced criminal charges for causing the accident that killed Lesniak. Black box evidence from his car showed that he had been going 77 miles per hour where the speed limit was 30. At trial, a bartender who had served alcohol to Ferreira on the night of the crash testified that Ferreira had consumed three beers and five shots of liquor that night. Because of this evidence, and because of his three prior convictions, one for reckless driving and two for DUI, his sentence for vehicular manslaughter was 14 years in prison.
Meanwhile, Lesniak’s daughter Jeanne and son Robert filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the civil court. After a three-day jury trial, the court ruled to award the plaintiffs $5.1 million; the amount included $18,000 for funeral expenses and $75,000 for punitive damages, with the rest being non-economic damages for Robert and Jeanne Lesniak’s emotional suffering in connection to their mother’s death.
The plaintiffs will not, however, receive any of the money awarded to them immediately. They will have to convince Ferreira’s insurance company to pay it. Since Ferreira is in prison, it is unlikely that he would have any other way of paying the money. Robert Lesniak said that the lawsuit was more about principles than about money; no amount of money can give him back his mother. He said that he hopes the civil court’s verdict will be a factor in convincing a criminal court not to reduce Ferreira’s sentence if he becomes eligible to have it reduced.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit related to DUI, a DUI conviction against the defendant will strengthen your case, but you can still win a civil lawsuit even if the defendant was acquitted in criminal court or was never charged. Contact Palm Beach County wrongful death attorneys at Smith, Ball & Báez Injury Lawyers for a consultation.