Deadly Fireball Intersection Crash In Port St. Lucie
A man died after his car slammed into a light pole and then burst into flames.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Port St. Lucie Boulevard and Southwest Cameo Boulevard. According to police and witnesses, a 70-year-old Port St. Lucie man attempted a left turn against traffic. A 25-year-old Stuart man collided with the other car in the intersection. The force of the impact sent both vehicles spinning out of control. The driver from Stuart collided with a light pole. Bystanders were able to pull him out of the car as the flames spread. However, he was later declared dead at a local hospital.
Two occupants in the other car are still in the hospital in serious condition.
Legal Issues in Florida Intersection Collision Cases
More than half of the serious injury or fatal car crashes in Port St. Lucie occur at or near major intersections. Street design is sometimes a contributing factor. Hills and curves sharply limit visibility. But a failure to yield the right-of-way is an even bigger contributing factor. Some drivers are not aware of the applicable rules; others completely disregard them in certain situations.
In many situations, insurance company lawyers try to use the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver):
- Reasonable reacted to
- An unexpected situation.
The second prong of this defense is extremely narrow. Common occurrences at Florida intersections, such as jaywalking pedestrians or cars that stop short, are not “sudden emergencies” in this context. Since these things occur on almost every trip, drivers should be ready for them.
Sudden emergency’s cousin is the last clear chance doctrine. It often applies in rear-end crashes. In fact, last clear chance is the doctrine which defeats most of the “swoop and squat” insurance fraud scams.
If Driver A has a reasonable opportunity to avoid a crash with Driver B, perhaps by changing lanes, Driver A is legally responsible if s/he did not take advantage of that chance. This liability applies regardless of Driver B’s behavior.
That being said, last clear chance does not apply if the driver simply had any theoretical chance to avoid the crash. Sometimes, traffic and other conditions make sudden lane changes impractical or even impossible.
Contributory Negligence in Florida
Sometimes, there is not enough evidence for one of these liability-reversing complete defense to apply. But, there is enough evidence to suggest multiple fault. In these cases, the contributory negligence rule applies.
Some people think they are ineligible for compensation if they are partially responsible for the crash. In many states, that is at least partially true. But Florida is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction. The judge divides damages based solely on the percentage of fault. So, even if the victim was 90 percent responsible for the crash, the victim is still eligible for a proportional share of damages.
Count On Experienced Lawyers
Intersection collisions usually involve complex legal questions. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We have five area offices.