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Settlement reached in fatal 'duck boat' crash

When a loved one dies as a result of another person's negligence or carelessness, family members often find themselves frustrated, sad, angry and confused. Why did this happen? Could it have been prevented? How can I move forward after such a devastating loss? While it can take a long time for the emotional pain to begin to heal, family members in Florida can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible.

After a deadly accident two years ago, it was decided that the families of two students who died will receive a total of $15 million for the loss of their lives. Other injured parties will divide an additional $2 million amongst them.

The accident occurred when a tugboat towing a barge crashed in a "Ride the Ducks" tour boat that the victims were on. The driver of the tugboat later admitted that he was very much distracted before the crash. He had been using his cell phone and computer for a long period of time and failed to keep proper watch and awareness of other vessels. For these, and other, violations, the operator was sentenced to a year in prison.

The families of the victims filed a lawsuit against both the tugboat company and the tour boat company. At the time of the crash, not only was the tugboat operator distracted, but the tour boat was not functioning.

Initially, the wrongful death case was being held in front of a judge. On the second day of the trial, however, the judge declared that he would not be the one to determine a settlement. Instead, he said, the parties would have to work out the settlement themselves. It took a day to determine the compensation that would be owed to the victims of the accident.

No amount of money can bring back a loved one, but compensation for the loss can help to ease the financial damage that may have been done. In any situation that results in the tragic loss of a loved one, the party responsible for the accident should be held accountable.

Source: CNN, "Families of Philadelphia 'duck boat' victims get $15M settlement," Sarah Hoye, May 10, 2012

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