Tragedy for a Myakka City family leaves 2 sons without a father after a fatal head on collision in Bradenton this past Saturday. 63 year old Laurence Worley and his 11 year old son, Ransom Worley died when Merritt Hilton Duryea crashed his car head on into their Ford Expedition. Duryea, 54, was also killed in the car accident. According to the FHP, Duryea was driving the wrong way on Lakewood Ranch Blvd, headed west in the eastbound lanes. He was not wearing a seatbelt. FHP is waiting for toxicology tests to find out if drugs or alcohol played a role in the head on crash.
Worley's two other sons survived the crash. 13 year old Rockwell Worley and 7 year old McRyder Worley were hurt in the accident and taken to All Children's Hospital in St. Pete. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reports that family is coming from around the country to be with the surviving brothers. The boy's mother, Tamara Worley from Illinois, and Laurence Worley are separated and have been in a custody dispute, according to the Sarasota Herald.
The Worley family has a lot of complicated legal decisions to make the next few days and weeks. The first is establishing legal guardianship of Rockwell and McRyder Worley. Then filing wrongful death claims and finally filing personal injury claims for the surviving brothers.
An ongoing custody dispute between parents always complicates what should be a simple situation. In this case Tamara Worley appears to be their legal guardian, but a judge may have the final say about it. Since Tamara Worley is from Illinois, she'll need a Florida attorney to represent her if there are any custody or guardianship issues.
The next legally complicated question is who can file a wrongful death lawsuit for Laurence Worley's death? Usually the surviving spouse will file a wrongful death claim, but in this case the marriage separation may complicate who is considered "next of kin." However, if a judge grants guardianship to Tamara Worley, she may choose to bring a wrongful death claim as a representative of her surviving sons.
Florida law also allows parents like Mrs. Worley to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of their deceased minor children. However, it's much harder for a jury to determine the compensatory damages for a child since they have to speculate on the child's lost future earnings and what type of financial support they might have given their parents. But parents may also ask a jury for pain and suffering damages that they've experienced because of the death of their child.
Rockwell and McRyder Worley were both hurt in the car crash that killed their father and brother. According to newspaper reports, their injuries are not life threatening and that's a blessing. Getting the most settlement from the insurance company is now extremely important. Anytime a child is hurt, the family is burdened by the tremendous costs of care ahead of them. Depending on the injuries, these boys may need long term medical care or therapy, and those costs are much higher for injured children than for adults.
The local Sarasota, Bradenton and Myakka communities have pulled together to help get the Worley family through this tragedy. Our hearts go out to all of the family members and friends. We are so sad about how this accident has torn up a loving family and left two sons fatherless and a mother coping with the horrible loss of her child. Please accept our sincerest sympathy.