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Dramatic Rescue After Fireball Multi-Car Crash

One person was injured, but no one was killed, in a fiery three-car wreck in Indian River County.

When first responders arrived at the intersection of 66th and Oslo in Vero Beach, two of the three vehicles were almost entirely engulfed in flames. Investigators believe that a Toyota Camry pulled out in front of a septic tank truck and a garbage truck; the septic tank truck and Camry both caught fire. The Camry’s driver was unable to exit her vehicle, partially because the airbag had her pinned in the seat and partially because the door was damaged in the crash. One Indian River County Sheriff’s deputy used his baton to smash through the passenger side window; he and another deputy were able to free her through the window as the flames expanded.

A Sheriff’s Office spokesperson remarked that “We had some heroes involved in this.”

Defenses in a Car Crash Case

Insurance companies do not make money by paying claims, and they do not create goodwill with their customers by paying damages to non-policyholders. So, insurance companies have virtually no incentive to provide fair compensation to plaintiffs.

There are a number of defenses that insurance companies commonly employ to reduce or deny liability. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that if the plaintiff’s injuries were not serious, the victim is only entitled to economic losses, like property damage and medical bills. In Section 627.737 of the Insurance Code, “serious” injury basically means “permanent” injury.

In many collisions, particularly rear-end crashes, the sudden emergency defense might come into play. This doctrine excuses negligence if the following elements are present:

  • Unexpected Situation: A hood fly-up or tire blow-out certainly qualifies as a “sudden emergency;” other situations, like a stalled car or another vehicle’s unsafe lane change, may not qualify as such.
  • Reasonable Reaction: The defendant must act reasonably in the wake of the emergency, for example, by applying the brakes or swerving to the right.

Sudden emergency, and its elements, are nearly always fact questions for the jury.

If it is not possible to deny liability, the insurance company often tries to shift part of the blame to the victim. Florida is a pure comparative fault state that apportions damages based solely on the percentage of liability.

Assume that the plaintiff was speeding, the defendant was intoxicated, and the plaintiff’s damages were $50,000. If the jury determines that the defendant was 60 percent at fault, the plaintiff would recover $30,000 (60 percent of the total). If the jury concludes that the defendant was 30 percent at fault, the plaintiff would still recover $15,000 (30 percent). In most other states, in that latter scenario, the plaintiff would recover nothing, because the defendant was not at least 50 percent at fault.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

An attorney needs to be ready for any arguments the insurance company tries to make. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

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