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Treyvon Martin – A Florida Wrongful Death Case?

Mon, Jun 04, 2012 at 10:10AM

The George Zimmerman criminal case has the world’s attention, and if he’s found guilty, Treyvon Martin’s family may feel that justice is served. However, if Zimmerman is found not guilty, would a wrongful death case still be an option? The conventional wisdom might say yes, but your Daytona Beach attorneys know that there is more to this story.

If you’ve been watching the news channels or browsing the web, you are well aware of the controversial shooting and killing of Treyvon Martin by security guard George Zimmerman. After a considerable delay, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second degree murder.  His defense will apparently revolve around self-defense based onFlorida’s 'Stand Your Ground' statute.

There’s been much discussion about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law (View the statute:, the basic gist of which is that an individual who uses deadly force in self-defense is not liable for criminal or civil charges.

In many situations, even if the perpetrator of a horrible act escapes criminal conviction, the victim, or the victim’s family, may still file a wrongful death suit in civil court seeking money damages. A high profile example was the O.J. Simpson trial in California, where Simpson, though acquitted of all criminal charges, was found guilty of wrongful death in a civil trial.  He was sentenced to pay a whopping $46 million.

The Florida Stand Your Ground statute makes this case important because it has brought into sharp focus the potential unfairness of its application to both criminal and civil actions.  If Zimmerman is indicted but a judge subsequently rules that he used appropriate self-defense, criminal charges will probably be dropped. This same ruling would almost certainly eliminate any potential wrongful death suit filed by Martin’s survivors.  If the judge determines that Zimmerman is not entitled to the protection afforded by the Stand Your Ground law, both the criminal prosecution and a wrongful death suit may proceed.

There will be much public debate about self-defense and Stand Your Ground laws as this high profile case proceeds. If the unthinkable occurs, the Daytona Beach wrongful death attorneys at Seitz and Tresher are here to help you.


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