An article in the Palm Beach Post caught my eye as a Deerfield Beach wrongful death lawyer. The article describes efforts by the parents of Scott Wilson, who was killed in an accident, to discover the financial records of the other driver. Wilson, 23, died last February in an accident allegedly caused the negligence of John Goodman, who was driving under the influence of alcohol and left the scene. Wilson’s parents have sued Goodman, who is not the actor of the same name, but part of a Texas family with an air-conditioning fortune, and a founder of the Palm Beach International Polo Club, where he also owns a team. The Wilsons say they want to find out how much Goodman is worth to ensure that they request enough punitive damages to truly penalize him.
Goodman is also facing criminal charges related to the 2010 crash, which could get him a total of 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts. According to the Post, he ran a stop sign in Wellington, not far from the polo club, and broadsided Wilson’s car at 63 mph in a 35-mph zone. The crash deformed Wilson’s car badly and pushed it into a canal, where it landed upside down. Wilson was trapped and drowned. Goodman left the scene. When police caught up to him several hours later, they measured his blood-alcohol content at 0.17, more than twice the legal limit. The Goodman family sold the family company, Goodman Global, for $1.4 billion in 2003. The Wilsons want to know how much of that money went to Goodman personally.
I’d like to address why the Wilsons’ request is an important part of the process of any wrongful death lawsuit. Some observers may think the Wilsons’ request is a tasteless attempt to profit from the death of their son, but in my experience as a Weston wrongful death attorney, no parent would trade their child’s life for money. As the article says, the Wilsons are asking for punitive damages, which are damages specifically intended to punish flagrantly illegal or unethical behavior. That means the net worth of the person or organization being sued really does matter — because the punitive damages have to be high enough to constitute a penalty. For a wealthy person like Goodman, that would be much higher than it would be for ordinary folks — and the Wilsons’ attorneys want to know how much higher, so they can make a reasonable request in court.
At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we represent families throughout Florida that have suffered an early and unnecessary death because of someone else’s carelessness. After a wrongful death, most families are too shocked, grief-stricken and consumed with practicalities to think about compensation. But as time goes on, families often realize that there truly is a financial dimension to their loss — the loss of an income, the cost of a funeral and costs related to replacing the duties that person had in the family. Our Pompano Beach wrongful death lawyers help families claim compensation for all of those costs and any others created by the wrongful actions that led to the death. We can also claim compensation for the grief and emotional losses of the loved ones who were left behind.
If you’ve lost a family member in Florida to someone else’s careless driving or other negligence, you should call Cohn, Smith & Cohn to discuss pursuing a wrongful death claim. For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, send us a message online or call (954) 431-8100 today.