Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Earlier this week in Glades County, Florida, a church van packed with 18 people ran a stop sign and plunged into a ditch that was partially filled with water. According to one local news source, eight of the 18 passengers died in the accident. The other 10 passengers were taken to four area hospitals with varying injuries.

Evidently, police are still trying to determine what caused the accident. What investigators do know is that the van was traveling eastbound on State Road 78 when it ran a stop sign at the intersection of US Highway 27. After running the stop sign, the van continued through four lanes of traffic before it plunged into the partially filled ditch. No one saw the van crash; the only witnesses were those aboard the van. It is unclear why the van ran the stop sign, although investigators did tell reporters that the van was rated to carry 16 people and there were 18 inside at the time of the fatal accident.

At the time of the most recent publication, eight people inside the van had died and 10 were still suffering from their injuries. Of the 10, all but two were in stable condition. The other two remain in critical condition. Police are continuing their investigation and will update the news media when more is learned about the tragic accident.

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Earlier this month, a recently retired man from Maine was killed when a car jumped the sidewalk and struck him as he was walking near the Harbor Island Bridge in Tampa. According to one local news source from the man’s home state of Maine, the man was with his wife and one other person near the Tampa Convention Center when the fatal accident occurred.

Evidently, 68-year-old driver of the car suffered some kind of medical episode, causing him to lose control of the car and sending it up over the nearby curb. Before hitting the three pedestrians, the car slammed through two poles. One nearby witness told reporters that he saw people “flying” and that it was “something you never want to see.”

The two others who were with the deceased that day suffered serious injuries but are currently in stable condition. Police are currently conducting an investigation into the accident to determine whether there was any wrongdoing on the part of the driver.

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In a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court determined drivers cannot be prosecuted for leaving the scene of a car accident unless they knew they were involved in the accident when it occurred. The case involved a truck driver who hit a teenage boy on his skateboard on highway A1A in Boca Raton in 2007. The boy fell into a crosswalk and was struck by the driver, who was pulled over by police after the boy was dragged some 90 feet under the truck. The driver was not found to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but he claimed he was not aware of the accident because his radio, air conditioning, and windshield wipers were all on at the time of the accident, which occurred in the rain.

One witness saw the back tire run over the boy, and another witness saw the skateboard jettisoned out from beneath the truck and split into two pieces. The truck showed no signs of damage from the accident, and police found no skid marks at the site of the crash. Unfortunately, the boy suffered severe brain injuries as a result of the accident and was in a coma for several weeks.

Automobile Accident Victims’ Rights in Florida

Although the state Supreme Court ruled that, in order to convict a driver of leaving the scene of a crash, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver is aware of the accident at the time it occurs, Florida law still allows accident victims and certain family members to sue a driver for monetary damages without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver is aware of the crash.

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A two-year-old toddler died under extremely tragic circumstances early this month. One local Florida news report indicates that the toddler was killed because of a 24-year-old drunk driver. Florida Highway Patrol reported that the drunk driver was driving a Ford Expedition north on 1-75 around 5:00 p.m.on March 1st. Evidently, the woman veered off of the road and onto the shoulder of the highway. As a result of her sudden turn and loss of control, the SUV flew off the ground and became airborne. The SUV then began to roll over several times until it finally came to a stop after hitting several trees.

The car was filled with several people, including nine children and three adults. None of the minors were restrained with seat belts. Unfortunately, one toddler was declared dead at the scene of the accident, and an infant was severely injured and taken to a children’s hospital in St. Petersburg. The remaining children all suffered minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals. Additionally, the driver and the other two adults sustained serious injuries and were hospitalized as a result.

Florida Highway Patrol stated that the driver is currently facing several charges, including one count of DUI Resulting in Serious Injury, nine counts of DUI Resulting in Injury, and one count of DUI Manslaughter.

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Earlier this month, a man was arrested in his Illinois home and charged with the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist he had struck with his vehicle over four years earlier. According to one local Illinois news report, the man struck a bicyclist on August 21, 2011 shortly after midnight. Rather than stop and render assistance, he fled the scene.

Evidently, the bicyclist was riding on the wrong side of the road when he was struck by the defendant. After the victim was found on the side of the road, emergency crews attempted to save his life but were unable to do so. Two hours after the accident, the man was pronounced dead.

The driver initially failed to stop at the scene of the accident, but hours later he called the police station and let them know about his involvement in the accident. The police began an investigation that took two years to complete. In that amount of time, the man had moved from Seminole County to Jacksonville and then to Illinois. It is unclear what took so long to complete the investigation.

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A recent research study indicates that Florida is one of the worst states to be involved in a car accident. According to a local Florida news report, the study was conducted by a well-known financial planning website and useD insurance information to come to its ultimate conclusion.

The report relayed an anecdote by a woman who was in a car accident in Florida. Apparently, the woman was coming home from work one evening when another car hit the side of her recently paid-off Ford. Unfortunately, the other driver did not have a license, was driving someone else’s car, and was from a foreign country. The ordeal took over six months and many thousands of dollars before the accident victim was able to get back to her normal life.

The research study explains that over 23.8 percent of drivers in Florida do not have car insurance. That makes Florida the second-highest state in the country in that category. Additionally, Florida has a very permissive policy on the amount of insurance that drivers are required to have, meaning that drivers can carry insurance with very low limits. As a result, there are many situations where damages go unpaid and people (and insurance companies) are not held accountable.

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Late last week, an eight-year-old boy was killed and his older brother was severely injured after being victims of a hit-and-run. According to local news reports, a bartender without a license is thought to be a suspect in the incident. Evidently, the bartender was driving his friend’s pick-up truck when he hit the two boys at around 7 p.m., a few days before Christmas. Reports indicate that they were walking home from a basketball game at a local middle school. Tragically, their grandmother was supposed to pick them up, but she had a flat tire and could not get to the school. As they were crossing the street, the pick-up truck hit the two boys and sped away after the accident.

The owner of the car took the vehicle to a repair shop in Fort Lauderdale a few days after the hit-and-run, and the repair shop owner, realized the vehicle fit the description of the car involved in the boy’s death. After police tracked down the driver of the car, the suspect stated that he thought he hit something but was not sure what. He was subsequently arrested and charged with evidence tampering and failing to stop at an accident. The owner of the car was also charged with insurance fraud, being an accessory after the fact, and tampering with evidence.

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Late last week, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled on a pending personal injury claim. According to court documents, a 27-year-old student from Romania was riding her bike to work in 2010 when she was involved in an accident. The student made a right turn because she assumed that the bus driver would continue driving straight. However, the bus driver made a right turn as well.

Unfortunately, the student hit the side of the school bus and ended up falling underneath it. The student sustained serious injuries as the bus drove over her body. The student filed a suit against the bus driver and the busing company, claiming that they were negligent. The bus company asked for a judgment as a matter of law after the plaintiff completed her presentation of evidence. It claimed that the student assumed the risk of making a right turn. However, the court denied its motions.

The jury found that the bus company was 75 percent at fault and that the student was 25 percent at fault. The bus company filed an appeal to the Supreme Court on the basis of what it believed was an incorrect jury instruction, but the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

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Earlier last month on their way back home to St. Petersburg, a Florida couple was killed when a drunk driver slammed into their vehicle. According to a report by one local news source, the vehicle was traveling at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hours shortly before the accident occurred.

Evidently, the couple was returning to their St. Petersburg home after Thanksgiving celebrations when the drunk driver hit their car. The drunk driver had collided with another vehicle immediately before hitting and killing the Florida couple. He had fled the scene of that accident when he ran into the Florida couple. The drunk driver was arrested at the scene of the accident after his breath-alcohol content was in excess of .08, the legal limit in Florida.

The man is being charged with drunken driving manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash, driving without insurance, and driving with a license for business purposes only. An investigation is still underway, and toxicology reports are still pending to determine the driver’s exact level of intoxication.

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Early last week, a Florida State Trooper was involved in a car accident with another vehicle causing injuries. According to a local news report, an SUV was driving on Del Rio Boulevard, with the state trooper following. As traffic began to slow down, the SUV driver slowed down as well.  The trooper’s car hit the back right side of the SUV causing  the SUV to overturn.

There were two people in the SUV, and they were both taken to the hospital. Additionally, the state trooper was taken to a local hospital. Reports indicate that the injuries were minor, and no names have been released. Currently, charges are pending against the trooper and the investigation is ongoing.

Florida and Vicarious Liability

Like many states, Florida follows the theory of vicarious liability. This explains that a person other than the actual wrongdoer may be liable to the plaintiff for his or her injuries. Some instances where vicarious liability applies are in a parent-child relationship, or more commonly an employer-employee relationship. This is often referred to as “respondeat superior”, which basically means that an employer may be responsible for its employees’ actions to those to whom it owes a duty of care. For this theory to apply, the employees must be working within their scope of employment.

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