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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Tractor-Trailer Driver Involved in Fatal Crash


A beloved school bus driver was on her way to her last, first day of school, but she never made it there.

According to Plant City police, 38-year-old Franciou Romelus parked his semi-truck in a traffic lane of Airport Road, so he could leave the truck and determine if a nearby business was open. In the predawn darkness, 59-year-old Cynthia Gibson apparently did not see the large truck, and she collided with it at nearly full speed. First responders rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was later declared dead.

Gibson had driven a school bus for Hillsborough County Public Schools for thirty years. For her final year before retirement, she looked forward to driving a magnet school bus which would have included two of her grandchildren. Everyone she worked with remembered her as a mentor with a caring personality. “If we had issues dealing with at-risk kids, she could handle it,” recalled transportation manager Jim Beekman. “She wasn’t afraid to talk to someone’s momma,” he added.

Wrongful Death Claims in Florida

The Florida Wrongful Death Statute clearly describes what damages are available to the survivors of a wrongful decedent. Essentially, survivors may be entitled to damages for loss of companionship, instruction, guidance and the potential earning of the decedent.

Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to her or his death, with interest, and future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value. In evaluating loss of support and services, the survivor’s relationship to the decedent, the amount of the decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor, and the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor may be considered. In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.

Minor children of the decedent, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. For the purposes of this subsection, if both spouses die within 30 days of one another as a result of the same wrongful act or series of acts arising out of the same incident, each spouse is considered to have been predeceased by the other.

Each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.

Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death may be recovered by a survivor who has paid them.

Liability Issues in Truck Crashes

In the above story, the truck driver illegally parked in a lane of traffic. So, that driver is at least partially at fault for the crash. Facts and circumstances may affect fault. For example, the driver may not have activated his hazards or may have parked just over the crest of a hill, so oncoming drivers could not see the stopped truck.

Florida’s pure comparative fault law often comes into play in these cases. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the victim is still entitled to a proportionate share of damages.

A Tampa personal injury attorney keeps this law in mind during settlement negotiations. The facts of cases like this one may diminish their value, but they still have value. A few thousand dollars is nothing to a large insurance company. But a few thousand dollars could mean everything to a grieving family. So, in situations where the facts are unfavorable, a fast settlement may be in everyone’s best interests.

Partner with Aggressive Lawyers

Wrongful death cases require costly investigations and a dedicated pursuit of justice. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.


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