Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Tampa Car Accident Lawyer
FREE Consultations Available
Tampa Car Accident Lawyers > Blog > Car Accidents > Drunk Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Wimauma Woman

Drunk Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Wimauma Woman


An allegedly intoxicated motorist rear-ended 37-year-old Shawna Smith’s car, killing her almost instantly.

The wreck occurred on Interstate 75 near the Big Bend Road exit. According to police and witnesses, 32-year-old Alberto Vigo, of Bradenton, tried to pass Smith as the two were travelling north. Vigo misjudged the angle and clipped the rear of Smith’s car, causing it to overturn. Vigo continued travelling for several miles. When his pickup finally broke down, he fled on foot before being apprehended. He was booked into the Hillsborough County jail on various charges.

Smith was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

Liability in Substance-Related Crashes

Collectively, alcohol and drug impairment cause or contribute to almost half of the fatal car crashes in Florida. Frequently, the substance is either medical marijuana or a prescription painkiller. These substances might be legal to ingest. But it is dangerous, and usually illegal, to drive under the influence.

These substances affect different drivers in different ways. Usually, however, alcohol’s effects start slowly and build quickly. A prescription painkiller’s effects usually kick in a short time after the tortfeasor (negligent driver) took the pill. Generally, marijuana highs begin immediately and fade quickly.

In all these cases, one pill, one drink, or one drag is enough to cause impairment. Evidence of impairment includes things like:

  • Erratic driving,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Unsteady balance, and
  • Slurred speech.

A Tampa personal injury attorney can use evidence like this to establish a breach of the duty of reasonable care. This duty requires drivers to be in top physical and mental condition when they get behind the wheel. Substance impairment dulls the edge.

Roughly this same evidence might also establish third party liability. Bars, restaurants, and other commercial alcohol providers might be vicariously liable for damages if they serve people who are habitually addicted to alcohol.

If the tortfeasor was legally intoxicated, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies. Tortfeasors might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate a safety law, like the DUI law, and
  • That violation substantially causes injury.

Damages in a car crash case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in extreme cases.

Special Issues in Hit and Run Wrecks

Unless they are apprehended immediately after the wreck or voluntarily surrender, hit-and-run tortfeasors are rarely successfully prosecuted in criminal court. The burden of proof is too high.

But civil court is different. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a Tampa personal injury attorney can usually hold tortfeasors responsible with comparatively little evidence, such as:

  • Additional Witness Statements: Many emergency responders do not interview witnesses who did not see the actual crash. But a witness who saw part of the crash could provide valuable information in civil court.
  • Surveillance Video: The same thing applies with regard to security, red light, and other cameras. If a camera recorded part of a license plate number, that nugget might be enough to track down the tortfeasor.
  • Body Shop Records: If an owner ordered body work on damage consistent with the accident shortly after the accident, it is more likely than not that the owner also caused that accident.

It’s not always possible to locate the tortfeasor. In these cases, victims can usually file claims against their own insurance companies and obtain compensation for their injuries.

Touch Base with Assertive Lawyers

Impaired drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm. Home and hospital visits are available.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

The experience you need in your pursuit of justice

The greatest distinguishing feature among attorneys is their level of experience. Our firm has more than 60 years of legal experience, much of it spent in the courtroom at trial. As a result, our Tampa personal injury lawyers rarely encounter an unfamiliar situation and can thoroughly answer your urgent questions. Our criminal defense practice features a board certified criminal trial lawyer and two former prosecutors with impressive knowledge of trial tactics and procedures.

The resources to provide quality representation for the length of your case

Whether your case involves medical malpractice, an auto accident or a wrongful death, your attorney must be prepared to take the case all the way through trial to verdict. Many personal injury attorneys advance the cost of litigation, so they can only last so long before financial pressures start to mount. As a client, you have to wonder whether an attorney's advice to settle your case reflects the quality of the offer or your attorneys need to get paid. Fortunately, The Matassini Law Firm has the resources to pursue civil verdicts and settlements that reflect the actual value of your case.

Call our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers for a free consultation

A crisis in your life calls for capable and compassionate assistance. The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. addresses your needs all the way through the legal process. For your free initial confidential conference with one of our Tampa car accident attorneys, call us today at 813-217-5715 or contact us online.

Share This Page:
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Toll Free
2811 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, Florida 33609