Head-On Wreck Kills Vero Beach Man
The head-on collision involved a passenger car and a semi-truck; the passenger car driver was killed almost instantly. The wreck happened on southbound Johnson Road. For unknown reasons, a southbound Grand Marquis crossed the center line into northbound traffic. The semi-truck driver attempted to avoid the crash, but was unable to do so.
Florida Highway Patrol officers are still investigating the crash.
First Party Liability
First responders at the scene almost always ticket wrong-way drivers in head-on collisions. They assume these drivers were at fault, often without conducting much of an investigation. But this initial finding is not always correct, largely because of the last clear chance rule.
So, regardless of who was faulted for the crash, if you were hurt in a car wreck, always have a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney evaluate your claim. Frequently, a thurought, attorney-led investigation comes to a different conclusion than the initial first responder investigation.
The last clear chance doctrine often applies in rear-end and head-on crashes. All drivers have a duty of reasonable care, no matter what others do or don’t do. That’s the basis of the last clear chance doctrine.
Assume that, in the above story, the eighteen-wheeler operator saw the passenger car driver cross the center line. That’s a reasonable assumption, since tractor-trailer drivers sit so high up and have such a good view of oncoming traffic.
The fact that the eighteen-wheeler driver made some effort to avoid the crash might not be good enough. In the last clear chance context, such efforts very well could have been too little and too late. It’s up to a jury to decide what constitutes a “reasonable” effort to avoid the collision. Unless the truck driver made such an effort, the driver violated the duty of care and is therefore responsible for the wreck.
Negligence, or a lack of care, is a bit easier to prove in commercial operator claims. Typically, these individuals have a higher duty of care. And the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Third Party Liability
Commercial driver negligence also usually involves vicarious liability. Third party liability is important in catastrophic injury cases. Frequently, individual tortfeasors (negligent drivers) do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation, especially in wrongful death claims.
The respondeat superior doctrine usually applies in car wreck and other negligence claims. This legal theory has three basic elements:
- Employee: If the employer controlled the individual, that individual is an employee for negligence purposes. That definition includes pretty much anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, whether they are employees, independent contractors, owner-operators, or unpaid volunteers.
- Scope of Employment: Just like anyone the employer control is an employee, any act which benefits the employer is within the scope of employment. That could include driving an empty truck back to the garage. The free advertising benefits the employer.
- Foreseeability: A wreck must be a foreseeable result of the employer-employee relationship. If the tortfeasor broke into the garage and stole a vehicle, that act probably breaks the chain of events. Pretty much anything short of that is within the foreseeability realm.
Other employer liability theories, which often apply in nursing home abuse and other intentional tort claims, include negligent supervision and negligent hiring.
Contact an Aggressive Lawyer
You never know how strong your case is until you have a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney. So, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.