On October 5, a jury in Gainesville returned a $25 million verdict to the family of wrongful death victim Abby Dougherty, a 20-year-old student at the University of Florida.
According to the case files, Dougherty was killed while riding her bike through an intersection near the university after a WCA garbage truck struck her.
The defense argued that Dougherty had consumed alcohol and cocaine before the crash and was operating on only three hours of sleep, which should mean she was impaired at the time and at fault. A toxicology report revealed Dougherty had in fact consumed the substances the night before and possibly done cocaine again several hours before the crash. However, the toxicology expert stated that an analysis of Dougherty’s blood found she was not impaired at the time of the crash and that the cocaine and alcohol likely did not contribute to the accident.
The plaintiffs argued the garbage truck driver was driving too quickly through the intersection and did not check his mirrors. The jury ultimately agreed that had the driver checked his mirrors or slowed down when approaching the intersection, he would not have caused the accident that led to Dougherty’s death.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim. The state limits plaintiffs in such cases to immediate relatives or dependents of the deceased. Because Dougherty was unmarried and did not have children, her parents had the primary right to file the claim.