Reckless Wrong-Way Driver Kills Two People
Investigators say that 30-year-old Alexander Jacobson was drunk when he collided with another vehicle on Interstate 275.
The wreck occurred on the northbound entrance ramp to the Tampa International Airport. According to police, Jacobson was travelling southbound on the ramp when he collided with a rideshare driver who was ferrying a passenger to the airport. Both occupants of that vehicle were killed almost instantly. Jacobson told investigators he had several drinks at a Ybor City bar shortly before the crash. Witnesses at the scene also said that Jacobson appeared to be under the influence.
Court documents state that Jacobson has a prior DUI and also prior drug convictions.
First Party Liability in Alcohol-Related Crashes
Alcohol causes about a third of the fatal car crashes in Florida. It affects the brain in several ways. People who drink often have a sense of euphoria which makes it impossible for them to make good decisions. Additionally, alcohol is a depressant which slows reflexes. This combination makes driving very dangerous.
These impairing effects begin with the first sip of alcohol. So, many drivers are dangerously impaired but not legally drunk. Evidence of alcohol impairment includes:
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Unsteady balance,
- Odor of alcohol, and
- Erratic driving.
Individually, these symptoms might not mean much. For example, some people drive erratically because they are lost or sleepy. But the burden of proof in civil court is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a little proof is often enough to establish a point in court.
Many alcohol-related collisions involve DUI charges. In these situations, the negligence per se doctrine often applies. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate a penal safety law, and
- That violation substantially causes injury.
Third Party Liability
In many alcohol-related crashes, the tortfeasor is not the only party responsible for damages. Vicarious liability is especially important in wrongful death claims. Frequently, the damages are so high that individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.
Florida’s dram shop law holds restaurants, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers liable for damages if the illegally sell alcohol. In this context, sales are illegal if the patron was:
- Underage, or
- Habitually addicted to alcohol.
If the customer was underage, the provider is usually financially responsible as a matter of law. Victim/plaintiffs can use circumstantial evidence to establish habitual addiction. Such evidence could include the circumstantial proof mentioned above, along with prior purchases or statements the tortfeasors made to witnesses.
Damages in a vehicle collision usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. In wrongful death matters, the survivors are usually entitled to similar compensation.
Reach Out to Tenacious Lawyers
Alcohol-related crash victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney, contact the Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions.