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Runaway Car Crash Kills One, Injures One


Observers believe that speed might have been a factor in a deadly vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 301.

The wreck occurred near Ashbrook Drive in Pasco County. According to Florida Highway Patrol troopers, 28-year-old Donathan Buck was northbound when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed the center line. He then crashed into 43-year-old April Musgrove, causing her Sierra to overturn. Musgrove, who had three children and worked at a Dade City discount grocery store, died at the scene.

Emergency responders also rushed Buck to a nearby hospital with critical injuries.

Speed and Vehicle Collisions

Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Hillsborough County. That’s because speed increases the risk of a collision as well as the force in a collision.

Speed multiplies stopping distance. At 30mph, most cars travel about six car lengths in the brief time it takes for a driver to see a hazard, move a foot onto the brake, apply the brake, and safely stop the vehicle. Stopping distance multiplies to eighteen car lengths at 60mph. Environmental conditions, vehicle weight, and other factors increase stopping distance even further.

Additionally, speed reduces vehicle control, especially around curves. Frequently, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) oversteer into curves. Fast-moving vehicles are much more responsive to steering changes than slow-moving vehicles. After they oversteer, tortfeasors then overcorrect in a panicked attempt to regain control. Once again, vehicle weight, environmental conditions, and other factors often make vehicles even harder to control.

Speed also multiplies the force in a collision, according to Newton’s Second Law. In simple terms, excessive speed changes a non-injury fender bender into a serious injury or fatal collision.

Liability Issues

A few velocity-related crashes involve defective products. In the early 2000s, Toyota recalled some vehicles over sudden acceleration concerns. However, in many cases, driver error was the problem. People simply pressed the accelerator when they meant to press the brake.

Legally, driver errors related to speed usually involve either negligence per se or ordinary negligence.

Negligence per se is the violation of a statute, which in this case is usually exceeding the posted speed limit. In Florida, drivers are presumptively responsible for car crash damages if:

  • They violate a non-penal safety law, such as speeding or making an illegal turn, and
  • That violation substantially causes injury.

If the tortfeasor was travelling more than 10mph over the speed limit, that’s usually enough evidence to establish liability. Evidence of reckless operation, such as speeding while changing lanes, might also suffice.

In Florida and most other states, the posted speed limits are not absolute. Instead, they are presumptively reasonable speeds if weather, traffic, road, and all other conditions are ideal. If drivers fail to adjust their speed for adverse conditions, they arguably violated the duty of reasonable care.

So, even if the tortfeasor was travelling below the limit, the tortfeasor might be responsible for damages. Vehicle size might come into play here as well. Large vehicles should usually travel slower than smaller vehicles.

Damages in a car crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Team Up with Dedicated Lawyers

Speeding drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions.

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