Appeals court overturns tribe’s liability in fatal crash

The Florida Third District Court of Appeal has overruled a lower court’s judgment in the case of an Native American tribe’s liability in a fatal 1998 crash. Although the lower court judge initially ordered the Miccosukee tribe to provide compensation to the family of the 30-year-old woman who died in the car accident, the appellate court has decided that the tribe should not be held accountable.

Crash investigators said that the woman responsible for the crash had been using drugs. Since both she and the owner of the vehicle she was driving are members of the Miccosukee tribe and the fact that the tribe paid the legal costs of the two defendants, the lower court judge agreed to hold the tribe accountable for their actions. The pair maintains that they have no personal assets. However, with the reversal of the decision by the appellate court, the tribe will not have to provide the aforementioned compensation.

Immediate family members of fatal car accident victims might be able to seek compensation for their loved ones’ deaths. In a case in which the liable party claims not to have any assets, it may be possible to petition a related party for payment. Although the judgment in this particular case was not successful, an attorney in a similar case may nevertheless take a comparable approach in an effort to pursue restitution for a plaintiff in a wrongful death case.

Drivers deemed liable for fatal accidents in civil lawsuits sometimes contest their liability or seek to avoid paying judgments through other means. Plaintiffs could use evidence from any civil proceedings to establish liability, and lawyers might uncover hidden assets if drivers state that they cannot pay.

Source: CBS Miami, “Court: Tribe Not Liable For Wrongful Death Judgment“, July 06, 2014