Head-On Crash Kills Tampa Driver
Fault seems apparent in a wrong-way Manatee County car wreck. But appearances can be deceiving, and the legal issues may be complex.
According to state troopers, a 39-year-old man was southbound on County Road 39 when he inexplicably lost control of his vehicle. His car careened onto the northbound side where it impacted another vehicle almost head-on. The impact killed the man almost instantly.
The other driver, who was remarkably uninjured, insisted that he could not avoid the man’s vehicle.
What Causes Tampa Head-On Crashes?
Florida has a number of semi-rural routes, like state highways and farm-to-market roads. These roads typically have only two lanes and no dividing barrier. So, crossover wrecks are quite common in some parts of the state. That’s especially true in rural areas near urban centers, because traffic is much heavier.
The forces in head-on wrecks are much greater than the forces in urban wrecks. Typically, both vehicles are travelling at freeway speeds. The excessive force often leads to catastrophic injuries.
Driver inattention causes a number of these collisions. Sometimes, one motorist tries to pass another one and does not see an oncoming vehicle. Other times, the passing driver misjudges the approaching vehicle’s speed and does not have enough time to complete the pass.
Excessive fatigue is a problem as well. Most drivers admit that they have gotten behind the wheel when they are dangerously drowsy. As far as the brain is concerned, drowsy driving is as bad as drunk driving. Some experts believe operating a vehicle after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving a car with a .08 BAC.
Time is the only cure for alcohol intoxication and fatigue. Some drowsy drivers drink coffee or play the radio loud to wake themselves up. At best, these tricks only have a temporary and partial effect.
Moreover, many drivers are naturally fatigued at certain times of day. It does not matter how much rest they had the night before. Generally, an attorney can determine a person’s circadian rhythm after examining the person’s daily schedule for the week or so prior to the crash.
Finally, medical episodes cause many head-on crashes. Conditions like epilepsy and heart disease often involve sudden losses of consciousness. When that happens, the unconscious driver often weaves unpredictably over the road before crashing into another vehicle.
The Difference Between Fault and Liability in Tampa
In head-on crashes, emergency responders almost always fault the wrong-way driver. Responders usually presume that’s the case before they even begin their investigations. If the other driver says something like “I couldn’t avoid the crash,” this preliminary finding often becomes final.
But there are some issues here. If one driver was killed or seriously injured, the police accident report probably only contains one side of the story. And of course, the other driver will claim the accident was inevitable.
So, legal liability for damages may be different from preliminary fault. An attorney must gather additional evidence, such as the vehicle Event Data Recorder, to determine liability. An EDR is basically like the “black box flight recorder” in a commercial jet.
In serious injury cases, damages usually include compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Contact Aggressive Lawyers
Even seemingly straightforward head-on crashes are often complex cases due to the overwhelming medical bills and insurance issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. After-hours visits are available.