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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Fatal Rollover Crash in Plant City


A factually and legally complex deadly vehicle collision near Tampa also sent a passenger to the hospital with serious injuries.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 31-year-old Kilbert Rijos lost control of his SUV following a tire blowout. The out-of-control vehicle barrelled onto the median, where it overturned. Mr. Rijos was declared dead at the scene. An adult passenger, 35-year-old Jennifer Rodriguez was rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Neither of these victims were wearing seat belts.

The rollover crash also seriously injured two young children, but they are expected to survive.

Car Crash Causes in Tampa

Usually, determining fault in a Florida car accident is fairly easy to do. But that’s certainly not always the case.

For example, there may be a difference between fault and liability. The sudden emergency rule, which is discussed below, is a good illustration. Moreover, the contributory negligence doctrine may come into play as well. This rule often shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. If the tortfeasor was only partially at fault, the tortfeasor is only partially responsible for damages.

In other situations, such as the above story, first responders do not determine fault, even though there are some legitimate questions in this area.

Statistically, defective products, like defective tires, only cause a handful of the car crashes in Tampa. However, if a defective product did cause the accident, liability is usually easy to establish. Product manufacturers are strictly liable for the damages that their dangerous products cause.

Owner negligence could also cause a tire blowout. Some owners ignore things like weight limits and tread wear, so their tires are more susceptible to emergency blowouts.

Other drivers operate negligently and thus cause tire blowouts. There may be little apparent connection between negligent operation and tire blowout. For example, Terry Tortfeasor may strike a curb in January. The impact weakens the tire, eventually causing a blow-out in March for an apparently unknown reason.

In order to obtain fair compensation, a Tampa personal injury attorney must diligently investigate the cause of the crash. Any delay could have a negative impact on your case.

Passenger Injuries in Hillsborough County

When passengers are injured in car crashes, insurance company lawyers have a few tricks up their sleeve.

Assumption of the risk may be the most common defense in passenger injury cases. Under this legal doctrine, victims are legally responsible for their own injuries if they:

  • Voluntarily assume
  • A known risk.

This doctrine, which often comes up in dog bite and other premises liability claims, may apply in limited circumstances to passengers as well. But in the passenger context, the assumption of the risk defense rarely applies, despite what insurance company lawyers try to claim. Car crash risk is not a known risk unless the victim saw the driver operating negligently or had another reason to know about an imminent danger.

The sudden emergency doctrine often comes into play here as well. This rule changes liability determination if the driver reasonably reacts to a sudden emergency. Regardless of who or what caused the tire blowout, this rule definitely applies in tire blowout passenger injury cases.

Furthermore, Florida is one of the few states which recognize the so-called seat belt defense. In the Sunshine State, victims who are not wearing their seat belts may be responsible for their own car crash injuries.

Connect with Experienced Lawyers

Car crash injury victims may be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with a Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

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