Wrong-Way Wreck in Citrus County Kills One, Injures One
The results of a deadly crash on Highway 19 are certain, but the responsibility is far from certain.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 66-year-old Clearwater woman was northbound on the southbound side when she hit a 19-year-old Crystal River man, who was driving a pickup truck. An approaching 53-year-old Crystal River woman, who was driving an SUV, did not see the wrecked vehicles and smacked into them. The Crystal River man was killed and the Clearwater woman was seriously injured.
None of the names were released.
Head-On Wrecks/Wrong-Way Wrecks
For liability purposes, there is often a significant difference between a wrong-way collision and a head-on collision. Typically, a wrong-way collision implies that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was steadily operating on the wrong side of the road. A head-on wreck implies that the tortfeasor suddenly drifted over the center line, often due to erratic driving.
Wrong-way wrecks usually involve the last clear chance doctrine. This doctrine sometimes applies in head-on wrecks, but it is not as common in these claims.
All noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care at all times, regardless of the environmental, traffic, or other conditions. That duty includes a responsibility to avoid wrecks when possible. That ongoing duty is at the heart of the last clear chance rule.
Assume Freddy, who was southbound on Main Street, and Shaggy, who was northbound on Main Street, collide. If Freddy previously took a wrong turn and was driving on the wrong side of the road, Shaggy should have seen him and should have avoided the accident. But if Freddy was driving erratically, pulled over the center line, and hit Shaggy, there is probably no way Shaggy could have avoided the crash.
Certain external factors usually come into play. For example, if Freddy was rounding a curve, Shaggy might not have seen him until it was too late. Or, if traffic was heavy and Shaggy swerved to avoid Freddy, Shaggy might have caused a worse wreck than the one he might have prevented.
Wrong way/head on wrecks are factually complex, and chain reaction wrecks are procedurally complex. In 2006, Florida decision makers significantly changed the law with regard to joint and several liability, an obscure legal concept which often only comes up in this context.
Let’s modify the above example a bit. Assume that Freddy hit Shaggy and then Velma, who was not watching the road very closely, slammed into the wrecked vehicles. If Shaggy is injured, it’s not clear whether Freddy’s crash or Velma’s crash caused those injuries.
In many states, the judge must divide responsibility for damages between Freddy and Velma based on their percentage of fault. But Florida is now one of only fourteen pure several liability states. As far as the law is concerned, either Freddy or Velma could be 100 percent responsible for the crash. They could divide responsibility between themselves, but Shaggy could pursue a claim against Velma or Freddy. Most likely, a Tampa car accident attorney would pursue a claim against the tortfeasor with the most insurance.
Compensation in a car wreck case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Reach Out to Dedicated 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 victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.