A recent Hit and Run bicycle accident epitomizes the problems we face in Miami. As a Miami accident lawyer that specializes in Bicycle accidents and Medical Malpractice,the death of Miguel Rocafort is a tragic example of the problems we face while living in south florida; Hit and Run Accidents, Bicycle Safety, and Medical Malpractice.
Rocafort, 51, a bicycling enthusiast was hit by a driver who kept going Saturday at 6:50 a.m.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue rushed him to Kendall Regional Medical Center, which has a class II trauma center, rather than take him to other hospitals that were closer.
Rocafort suffered a broken neck in the form of a fractured vertebrae, a serious head injury, fluid on the brain, and a broken leg. Despite the extent of his injuries, the family says Kendall Regional attempted to discharge Rocafort on Monday, just two days after the accident.
"They told me the insurance was tightening up," said the wife, Flor Graham. "I told them he was too seriously injured to go home yet."
Graham, who is a medical assistant at Jackson Memorial Hospital, said Kendall Regional allowed her husband to remain one more day, releasing him Tuesday. Less than 36 hours later he would be dead.
"He wasn't well. It wasn't like it was a little hit, it was a terrible accident" said long-time friend and neighbor Rosa Pena. "I think they let him go too soon, way too soon."
Rocafort's widow agreed, saying her husband was in extreme pain even as he left the hospital Tuesday.
About 2 a.m. Thursday Rocafort's pain worsened and he developed difficulty breathing, then lost consciousness. His wife administered CPR. He was pronounced dead later at Baptist Medical Center in Homestead after being taken there by fire-rescue.
Hit and Run. Leaving the scene of a fatality is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. It is also a felony to leave the scene of an accident when someone is injured, but it's a misdemeanor when there are no injuries. Beyond a Hit and Run, being a criminal act, it is a morally reprehensible act of cowardliness. One out of every 5 pedestrians killed on the roads die from a hit-and-run, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So why does Miami have so many Hit and Run accidents? The first reason is the number of drivers who do not have a valid drivers license. The AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety found that 21% of all fatal crashes involved drivers with no valid license. AAA found that unlicensed drivers are 66.36 times more likely to be a hit-and-run driver than a licensed driver.
The second reason deals with the fact that a Hit and Run driver is often driving while under the influence. The driver feels he is better off leaving his victim to die, rather than face possible criminal prosecution for DUI.
Another area of concern for bicyclist in Miami is the high number of accidents. Florida often leads the country in bicycle accident related deaths. Florida is the most dangerous state, and Miami typically ranks in the top 5 of cities for most dangerous. The same factors that lead to Hit and Run accidents are at play in bicycle accidents. In addition, aggressive driving, lack of bicycle lanes, and crowded roadways all help to contribute to cycling safety.
This case also involves Medical Malpractice. From the description of injuries sustained, it was clearly below the standard of care to discharge Miguel Rocafort after 3 days.
In the event Mr. Rocaforts family were to bring a claim for Wrongful death, the motorist who caused the accident(assuming he were found) would be responsible for the subsequent Malpractice.
In the event The Rocafort's had Uninsured Motorist coverage they can bring a claim against their uninsured motorist carrier for the injuries caused by the Hit and Run Motorist and the subsequent death of Miguel Rocafort.
Lastly, the family certainly has the option to file a claim for medical malpractice based upon the hospital's discharge of Miguel Rocafort.