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

Nine Vehicle Pile-Up Crash on Interstate 75


A negligent dump truck driver triggered a chain-reaction crash on I-75 which killed two people and seriously injured several others.

74-year-old Daniel Ragan, of Spring Hill, failed to slow down or stop as he approached stacked-up traffic on Interstate 75 near the Fowler Avenue exit. The dump truck slammed into a van and overturned on top of it, killing the driver almost instantly. The force of the collision propelled the wreckage into several other vehicles. Four people were rushed to area hospitals. One of them, 2-month-old Asher Gaspard, did not survive.

Investigators say that charges are pending against Ragan.

Lingering Injuries and Car Crash Claims

The full effect of car crash injuries is not always immediately apparent. Compensation is usually available for lingering injuries that can be classified as permanent to any degree, even if a pre-existing or another condition contributed to the problems.

According to the eggshell skull rule, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) must take victims as they find them, from a physical standpoint. If the victim is vulnerable, like a child or a person with an “eggshell skull,” tortfeasors should not benefit. So, as long as the non-injury condition contributed to the injury, and not vice versa, the eggshell skull rule usually applies.

Foreseeable is a legal term which basically means “substantial.” For example, if a victim is burned in a car crash, complications at the burn unit are foreseeable.

First Party Liability

To obtain compensation, car crash victims must normally establish either ordinary negligence, which is a violation of the duty of reasonable care, or negligence per se, which is a violation of a safety statute. Device distraction is a good example of the difference between the two.

Florida has a limited cell phone ban which only applies to texting. So, if a driver surfs the web on the phone and causes a crash, the law does not apply. In these situations, victim/plaintiffs must establish a lack of care. In other words, the tortfeasor must have been so distracted that the behavior constitutes a lack of care.

However, if the tortfeasor was texting and caused a car crash, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies. Normally, negligence per se is only a presumption of negligence in Florida. But if the tortfeasor violated a penal safety law, like the DUI or vehicular manslaughter laws, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages as a matter of law.

These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.

In situations like the one in the above story, where the cause is uncertain, a Tampa personal injury attorney must present additional evidence to establish either negligence or negligence per se.

Third Party Liability

Many times, the tortfeasor is not the only party responsible for damages. Respondeat superior, or “let the master answer,” may be the most common vicarious liability theory. It has three basic prongs:

  • Employee: Independent contractors, owner-operators, and even most unpaid volunteer drivers are employees for negligence purposes. Employers control all these individuals in terms of things like hours worked and route travelled.
  • Scope of Employment: Similarly, any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That includes things like driving an empty Uber car which bears the Uber logo. The employer benefits from the free advertising.
  • Foreseeability: The same foreseeability rule discussed above also applies in this context. For example, if a runaway dump truck driver smashes into a car, pushing that car into another vehicle and causing injury, that injury was a foreseeable consequence of the wreck.

Third party liability is particularly important in catastrophic injury claims. Many times, individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation, especially in spine injury and wrongful death matters.

Contact Diligent Lawyers

Car crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.

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