‘This One Is Pretty Bad’
Four people are dead, including three children, after a serious chain reaction car crash near DeLand.
The wreck began near the intersection of State Road 44 and Grand Avenue. When a Ford SUV illegally pulled out in front of a Jeep, the two vehicles collided. The Jeep overturned and caught fire; the out-of-control SUV careened into a passenger car that was waiting at a stop sign. No one escaped from the Jeep, which was burned down to the frame, despite the efforts of several bystanders. Due to the charred conditions of the bodies, authorities have yet to identify the victims’ exact ages or genders. Troopers were able to identify two car seats, and they believe that there was a third child in the Jeep, in addition to the driver. “This one is pretty bad,” concluded a FHP sergeant with knowledge of the incident.
Charges are pending against the SUV driver, who was previously convicted of DUI (1999), reckless driving (2001), and DUI with property damage (2004).
This issue is a serious problem on many area roadways. For example, two days before the crash in the above story, authorities issued a warning about aggressive driving on Interstate 4 in Seminole County, where three people were killed in four days in separate instances in a six-mile stretch of the highway.
Under Florida law, aggressive driving is illegal if the driver is simultaneously guilty of any two of the following infractions:
- Improper or unsafe lane change,
- Failure to yield the right-of-way,
- Failure to obey traffic control devices, and
- Improper passing.
Other forms of aggressive driving not covered by the statute include making obscene gestures towards other drivers and repeated horn-honking.
Negligence Per Se
In most personal injury cases, the plaintiff must establish the existence of a legal duty, the breach of that duty, the breach factually and proximately caused injuries, and damages. But there is a shortcut available if the defendant violated a statute, like the aggressive driving law.
In negligence per se (negligence “as such”) matters, plaintiffs do not have to prove duty or breach. Instead, they must only establish that the:
- Defendant violated a statute,
- Plaintiff was among the class of people the statute protects, and
- Plaintiff was injured.
With regard to certain traffic laws, negligence per se creates a presumption of guilt, but is not conclusive proof.
Damages in Car Crash Cases
In many situations, negligence per se also raises the possibility of punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish the offender and deter future wrongdoing. These damages are available if the plaintiff presents clear and convincing evidence that the defendant “was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.”
Punitive damages are usually capped at $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
Regardless of the defendant’s mindset, damages in a serious car crash include compensation for economic losses, like property damage and medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, including emotional distress and loss of enjoyment in life.
Contact Zealous Attorneys
For prompt assistance with a car crash claim, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Reed & Reed. You have a limited amount of time to act. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.