Prosecutors decided not to charge Lazaro “DJ Laz” Mendez, the host of a popular morning show on Miami’s Hits 97.3 radio station, with any crimes for his involvement in the May 2014 death of a 23-year-old man in the waters off Key Biscayne. According to an article from the Miami Herald, the victim was part of a group of partygoers who were trying to help free the boat that Mr. Mendez was controlling from a sandbar during a promotional beach party event. While the victim was pushing from behind the boat, Mr. Mendez allegedly engaged the engine, causing the man to get sucked into the propellers and killed.
Charges were initially being considered based on an allegation that Mr. Mendez had been drinking before the accident and may have been criminally reckless in contributing to the death of the victim. After performing an investigation, prosecutors released a statement last month that there was not sufficient evidence for them to conclude that Mr. Mendez had been drinking or was intoxicated when the accident occurred.
The Parties Have Previously Settled a Civil Lawsuit Filed in this Matter
Although Mr. Mendez is not being charged criminally for his role in the victim’s death, he has already settled a Florida wrongful death lawsuit that was filed by the victim’s family. Civil lawsuits require a lower burden of proof at trial for the plaintiff to be awarded damages, when compared to the burden that prosecutors must meet for a criminal conviction. Because of this difference between civil and criminal cases, it is relatively common for someone who is acquitted or not even charged with a crime to be held responsible for the same conduct through a civil action.
In addition to the lower burden of proof in a civil action, a wrongful death or personal injury verdict requires less to be proven than a criminal charge. A plaintiff can be awarded damages in a civil case by showing that the defendant was negligent in causing an injury or death. For a criminal conviction, prosecutors must generally show that the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted to cause the injury, or at least consciously disregarded an unjustifiable risk that their conduct would result in injury or death. The civil suit may have been settled because Mr. Mendez feared that the his conduct could appear negligent even if it was not reckless or intentional.
Victims Should Act Quickly After an Accident and Contact an Attorney
Accidents that cause injury or death can be overwhelming for the victims and their families, and there are often a multitude of difficult and expensive tasks that must be completed in the aftermath of an accident. It is difficult for victims and their families to know exactly how to proceed in holding the responsible parties accountable for an accident and getting compensated for the damages. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a Florida boat accident, the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Cecere Santana Castrillon can assist you with your claim. One of our dedicated and experienced South Florida accident attorneys can guide you through the process personally and help you be sure your case is being handled properly. At Cecere Santana Castrillon, we represent clients in most Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases, including boat accidents. Contact us by using the online form or call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation today.
See More Blog Posts:
Miami Lakes Car Accident Claims Three Lives Earlier this Month, Cecere Santana Castrillon Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 26, 2015.
Boca Chita Boat Accident Takes One Man’s Life, Cecere Santana Castrillon Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 16, 2014.