Three-Car Collision Seriously Injures Two People
A man ran a red light, causing a chain-reaction crash at the intersection of County Road 54 and Grand Oaks Boulevard.
28-year-old Cooper Gil and 24-year-old Paula Ortiz were both westbound on CR 54. Gil approached the intersection on a red light and Ortiz waited to make a left turn against traffic. 24-year-old Desiree Murphy, who had a green light, proceeded into the intersection on Grand Oaks. Murphy collided with Gil, who ran the red light. The force of the impact propelled the cars into Ortiz’ vehicle.
Gil, who was not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected from his vehicle. He and a passenger were rushed to a nearby hospital.
Establishing Liability in Hillsborough County Intersection Collision Claims
Contrary to popular myth, the driver who ran the red light is not always legally responsible for the crash. So, even if an emergency responder or insurance adjuster said you were at fault, it’s important to speak with a Tampa personal injury attorney.
When they make fault determinations, adjusters and responders often have little information and little time. So, these determinations are often inaccurate. Furthermore, there is a difference between fault at the scene and liability for damages.
Even the most experienced responder is not an accident reconstruction professional. When making their reports, these responders do the best with what they have. Sometimes, the available evidence is insufficient. That’s especially true of the victim was killed, seriously injured, or otherwise unable to give a statement. Additional proof in intersection collisions includes:
- Event Data Recorder: Much like a commercial jet’s black box, EDRs measure and record key mechanical data, like vehicle speed and steering angle. This information provides valuable insight into the moments before the crash.
- Additional Witnesses: Generally, emergency responders only interview witnesses who loiter at the scene and voluntarily come forward. An attorney, often in partnership with a private investigator, can find additional witnesses.
- Driving Record: An operator’s driving history can be admissible in these cases. Yet responders and adjusters rarely take operator history into account when assessing fault.
This evidence is important. In court, the victim/plaintiff must establish negligence by a preponderance of the proof (more likely than not).
Some legal doctrines may come into play as well, especially in intersection collision claims. The last clear chance doctrine is a good example.
Assume Ramon is waiting for a light to turn green. The light changes color, and he proceeds into the intersection. He looks to his left and sees Maria approaching at a high speed. It is obvious that she is not going to stop.
If Maria hits Ramon, he may be legally responsible for the crash, even though Maria ran a red light. Ramon probably had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. If he would have stopped or slowed down, the wreck may not have happened.
The last clear chance rule may apply in other situations as well, such as rear-end or head-on collisions.
The Seat Belt Defense in Florida
With regard to the seat belt defense, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that Florida is one of the few states to allow this defense. If the victim was not wearing a seat belt, the judge may reduce the victim’s compensation. The good news is that, in the Sunshine State, this defense is much more difficult to establish in court than it is in some other jurisdictions.
First, the insurance company must prove the victim was voluntarily not wearing a seat belt. Defective seat belt recalls are quite common. There is a fairly good chance the vehicle you are diving now has a seat belt issue.
Additionally, the insurance company must establish the extent of non-use. This issue comes up a lot in carseat cases. There is a big difference between a carseat loose in the back seat and one that was not buckled in just right or was facing the wrong direction.
Second, the insurance company must prove seat belt non-use substantially caused the victim’s injuries. Generic safety statistics are not enough. A doctor who has examined the victim must give this testimony in court.
Contact Tenacious Lawyers
Intersection crashes often involve complex factual and legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act to pursue your legal claim.