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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Sept. 2, 2015

This summer, a jury trial verdict awarded $24 million to a widower whose pregnant wife (Alanna DeMella) was sadly killed in an accident at the hotel three years ago. Specifically, Alanna was killed when a drunk driver (Rosa Rivera Kim) drove into a cabana at the Riverside Hotel where she was sitting.

Specifically, in his wrongful death claim against the hotel, Michael DeMella claimed that it knew of the growing danger caused by the road and should have previously built a barrier between the road and the cabana in order to prevent an accident. The road next to the cabana was often referred to by hotel staff as a “race track” based on how fast motorists traveled on it. Sadly, in spite of the evidence, the hotel denied that it was responsible in any way for the accident and death of Alanna.

The jury disagreed, and assigned the hotel 15 percent liability for having been put on prior notice that people regularly and routinely sped near the hotel and this was a potential risk to visitors. The rest of the fault (85 percent) was assigned to the driver (Kim), whose blood alcohol content was found to be three times the legal amount at the time of the accident.

The verdict provided some justice to Alanna’s widow, Michael, who lost both his wife and child–not only due to the driver’s negligent and criminal behavior–but due to the hotel’s failure to protect its guest from an obvious hazard.

Premises Liability in Florida

Florida law requires that a landowner or business provide business patrons with the highest duty of reasonable care. This applies to keeping guests safe indoors as well as outdoors, including in such areas as parking lots.

However, the person injured must prove that the business establishment had “actual or constructive” knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge may be proven if:

  • The condition existed for so long that, in the exercise of ordinary care, the business establishment should have known of the condition; or

  • The condition occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.

Many visitors flock to Florida each year to relax and unwind. Property owners who invite visitors onto their property to do business – but who do not ensure that property is safe for others – can be held liable for injuries that occur. Any dangerous condition that the owner or operator of a property knows about or should reasonably know about can result in the owner being held liable for any injuries that are caused by that condition.

Wrongful Death

A civil wrongful death claim is typically brought by the surviving family members of the deceased and is designed to compensate those individuals for their loss. Awards can include damages to address the family’s lost wages, loss of companionship and society with the deceased, and mental pain and anguish suffered by the survivors.

Mike Walker Law

Attorney Mike Walker understands the pain and expense that injuries arising from a dangerous condition on a property can cause. He is dedicated to ensuring victims are fully compensated for their injuries. Contact the Clearwater office today for a free consultation — attorney Walker is here to ensure that your rights are protected.