A Deadly Day For Treasure Coast Pedestrians And Motorcyclists
During one twenty-four hour period in March 2018, several people died in multiple car wrecks in the area. These accidents highlight many of the factual and legal issues that attorneys deal with in these cases.
In one incident, two separate hit-and-run drivers hit the same 57-year-old Cocoa man near the intersection of U.S. 1 and Broadway Boulevard. The second driver apparently ran over the man as he was lying in the road. A few hours later, a 24-year-old Rockledge motorcycle rider died after a collision with a semi-truck. That accident occurred on near Cocoa on Interstate 95. Two other individuals also died in two other crashes on that day.
In the first quarter of 2018, the number of traffic fatalities in Brevard County is about 50 percent higher than it was in 2017.
Legal Options in Port St. Lucie Hit-and-Run Cases
Whether or not the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is identified in these cases, victims have legal options.
Very few hit-and-run drivers face charges in criminal court. Unless these individuals confess, it is almost impossible to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, the prosecutor must produce a witness who both saw the crash and got a very good look at the driver. Such evidence is rarely available.
But in civil court, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Typically, the victim/plaintiff can identify the vehicle’s owner, perhaps through a partial license plate number. The Port St. Lucie jury can infer that, more likely than not, the owner was also the tortfeasor.
Moreover, personal injury attorneys usually have more evidence than criminal prosecutors. An attorney often partners with a private investigator to do things like:
- Saturate the area looking for additional witnesses who may have seen something important and/or did not want to talk to a police officer,
- Visit local body shops looking for vehicles that match the suspect vehicle, and
- Stake out the area for an extended period of time to see if the suspect vehicle comes around again.
Unless the hit-and-run was a very high profile case, Florida police departments rarely devote large amounts of time to these investigations.
If the victim/plaintiff does not identify the tortfeasor, the victim can usually file a claim against his/her own insurance company for economic losses. If the parties do not settle their dispute, it will probably go to arbitration instead of trial.
Employer Liability in Port St. Lucie
If a large truck or other commercial vehicle is involved in a Florida car crash, the employer is usually responsible for damages. Some available legal doctrines include negligent hiring and negligent supervision. These rules are especially useful in intentional tort cases, like assaults.
Respondeat superior is the most common employer liability theory. It applies if the tortfeasor was an employee who acted within the scope of employment at the time of the crash. Florida law defines both these elements in broad and victim-friendly terms. For example, an “employee” is anyone that the employer controls. That could be an owner-operator, independent contractor, or even an unpaid volunteer.
Typically, if there are multiple responsible parties in a case, the judge apportions damages between them based on their percentage of fault.
Connect With Aggressive Lawyers
Even seemingly straightforward car crashes often involve complex legal issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.