Interstate 75 Crash Kills Teenage Girl
When a teen driver lost control of a pickup truck on the interstate, a 16-year-old Temple Terrace girl died.
The wreck occurred near the East Fletcher exit. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 16-year-old driver was attempting to pass another vehicle when he lost control of the pickup truck. The vehicle barreled onto the shoulder and overturned. The girl was ejected from the back seat and died almost instantly. She was not wearing a seatbelt.
None of the names were released.
Most Florida vehicle crashes involve single-occupant vehicles. So, passenger injuries are somewhat rare. When they happen, they often involve unique emotional and legal issues.
Emotionally, many passengers know the driver. In fact, in most cases, the driver is a close friend or family member. As a result, some injured passengers understandably hesitate to bring legal claims.
But a negligence claim does not “blame” anyone for the crash. We all make mistakes, and we must all accept responsibility for the mistakes we make. That’s the essence of a negligence claim.
Additionally, the drivers themselves face few consequences in court. The insurance company provides legal representation and the insurance company pays compensation. Frequently, drivers suffer no adverse effect except higher insurance rates, and that would have happened whether the victim filed a claim or not.
Legally, passenger injuries sometimes involve the assumption of the risk defense. This legal doctrine, which often comes up in dog bite and other premises liability claims, excuses negligent conduct if the victim:
- Voluntarily assumed
- A known risk.
This legal loophole almost always involves an express or implied liability waiver. Unless the victim saw the driver operating erratically before the crash, had an opportunity to get out of the vehicle, and did not do so, there is no implied waiver in these cases.
The Seatbelt Defense
Florida is one of the only states which recognizes the seatbelt defense. Failure to wear a seatbelt is admissible in a bid to reduce or eliminate compensation.
But this defense does not automatically apply. And, insurance company lawyers must do more than read safety statistics to the jury. The insurance company must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim’s seatbelt was functioning properly, the victim was not wearing it, and the failure to wear the seatbelt, as opposed to the driver’s negligence, substantially caused the victim’s injuries.
Compensation in a car wreck claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Third Party Liability
Since people under 18 cannot own property, young teen driver claims almost always involve the negligent entrustment rule. Owners are vicariously liable for car wreck damages if they knowingly allow incompetent operators to use their vehicles. Evidence of incompetency includes:
- No valid drivers’ license,
- Driving in violation of license restrictions (g. no passengers under 21),
- Recent safety suspensions, and
- A poor driving record.
Generally, people without valid licenses are incompetent as a matter of law. The other items are circumstantial evidence of incompetency.
Vicarious liability is significant because it gives Tampa car accident attorneys a way to obtain additional compensation in wrongful death and other catastrophic injury claims.
Connect with Experienced Lawyers
Car crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm. Our attorneys can connect injury victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or up-front money for medical treatment.