Fatal Crash In Fort Lauderdale
Three other people were injured in an auto collision that killed a 4-year-old girl who was not properly restrained.
According to witnesses and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta attempted to make a left turn against traffic and collided with an oncoming Nissan Pathfinder. The force of the collision propelled the Jetta, which was hit on the passenger side, into a utility pole. The wreck critically injured all four Jetta occupants, and Majesty Folson subsequently died as a result of her wounds.
Authorities are investigating the crash but do not plan to file charges at this time.
Over a third of car crashes occur at intersections, typically when one car tries to make a left turn against traffic and fails to account for an oncoming vehicle. Sometimes, the driver underestimates the amount of time available to safely cross the intersection, and other times, especially in motorcycle-vehicle collisions, the driver fails to maintain a proper lookout and simply does not see the other vehicle.
Injuries in these cases are normally quite serious, typically because one vehicle suddenly accelerates to take advantage of a gap in traffic, and that additional velocity multiplies the force in the collision. Some of these injuries include:
- Broken Bones: In high-speed collisions, bones get crushed as opposed to simply broken. These injuries usually require aggressive surgery to set and extended physical therapy to regain lost functions.
- Neck and Back Injuries: Whiplash is a very common motor vehicle crash injury that is almost impossible for non-injury specialists to diagnose, because it often does not show up on X-rays and other diagnostic tests. Trauma to the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the spine can cause debilitating injuries that last a life time.
In serious injury collisions, Florida victims are entitled to compensation for both their economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases involving a drunk driver or cell phone use.
Insurance Company Defenses
Florida is one of the few states that recognizes the so-called seat belt defense. If a victim is not properly restrained and is injured, the insurance company will almost always claim that the victim was partially responsible for his/her own injuries.
Typically, however, the insurance company lawyers must do more than merely present statistics about seat belt safety and wag their fingers at the victims for not adequately protecting themselves. Instead, the insurance company must normally present testimony from a doctor or expert who has either reviewed the victim’s medical file, or preferably examined the victim, and then testify that had the victim worn a seatbelt, the victim’s injuries would be “x” instead of “y.”
Since Florida is a pure comparative fault state, it is almost impossible for the insurance company to completely defeat a damage claim using the seat belt defense.
Most people wear their seat belts, so this issue does not come up very often. However, two other defenses often arise in intersection collision cases:
- Sudden Emergency: If the tortfeasor reasonably reacts to an unexpected situation yet nevertheless causes a crash, the tortfeasor is excused from liability. But, another vehicle’s illegal turn usually does not constitute an “unexpected situation,” because such turns are rather commonplace.
- Last Clear Chance: If a driver has a reasonable opportunity to avoid a crash, perhaps by changing lanes, but does not do so, the other driver is not liable for damages. The victim must have the last clear chance, and not the last possible chance, to avoid the crash.
Normally, the judge decides if the facts meet the legal standard and the jury weighs those facts.
Reach Out to Tenacious Lawyers
Intersection collisions usually cause serious injuries and raise complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.