Martin County Car Crash Kills Teenager
The 14-year-old boy is already the third child killed in a Treasure Coast car accident in since Christmas 2017.
The young man was a passenger in a 2018 Infinity as it travelled eastbound on Southwest Wildcat Trail near Tropical Farms Park. For unknown reasons, the 28-year-old driver lost control of the vehicle, which left the road and slammed into a tree. THree people — the 14-year-old boy, the driver, and another 12-year-old passenger — were rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. The lad did not survive.
On Christmas Day, a 9-year-old boy died in a Treasure Coast car wreck; on New Year’s Eve, a 3-year-old girl died under similar circumstances.
Loss of Control Collisions in Port St. Lucie
It’s very common for people to drive carelessly or even recklessly, but rather rare for drivers to completely lose control of their vehicles in Florida. When that happens, one of two things is usually to blame:
- Excessive speed, usually in combination with a wet road, or
- A medical episode.
In speed-related collisions, the negligence per se shortcut usually applies, even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was not exceeding the posted speed limit. Florida, like most other states, requires drivers to adjust their speeds to the conditions. Rubber tires have essentially no traction on wet roads, especially if they have more than a few hundred miles on them. So, if the tortfeasor takes a curve just a little too fast, the driver either overcompensates and loses control or the vehicle does not immediately respond to the steering wheel, causing a serious injury collision.
Negligence per se might apply in Port St. Lucie medical episode cases as well, if the tortfeasor violated a safety restriction or if the tortfeasor’s license was invalid due to a medical condition. But ordinarily, victim/plaintiffs in loss of driver consciousness claims must prove all five elements of a negligence case:
- Duty: Drivers have a responsibility to remain awake and alert when they operate motor vehicles.
- Breach: If a driver loses consciousness because of heart disease, epilepsy, diabetes, or another known medical condition, the driver arguably violated the duty of care.
- Cause in Fact: In most cases, there must be a direct relationship between the victim/plaintiff’s injuries and the tortfeasor’s carelessness. This rule is somewhat expanded if the victim/plaintiff was in the same vehicle as an injured child relative.
- Proximate Cause: The injury must be a foreseeable consequence of the tortfeasor’s conduct. If a doctor makes a medical error during surgery following the car crash, the negligent driver is not legally responsible for said injury.
- Damages: As outlined earlier, in most cases, the victim/plaintiff must suffer either physical injury or property damage.
The damages available normally include compensatory damages for medical bills and other economic losses, as well as pain and suffering and other noneconomic losses.
The Assumption of the Risk Defense in Florida
In passenger injury cases, insurance company lawyers often try to use the assumption of the risk defense to reduce or deny compensation to the victim/plaintiff. The elements of this defense are:
- Voluntary assumption of
- A known risk.
In this context, an act is voluntary if the person had a legitimate alternative. If the victim had no other way home, getting into a car is not really a voluntary act. The same logic applies to the liability waivers that some organizations require. If the waiver is a condition of participation, signing the waiver arguably is not a “voluntary” act.
Moreover, a medical episode is not a known risk unless the victim/plaintiff knows about the driver’s condition and knows that the driver has lost consciousness behind the wheel.
Rely on Experienced Lawyers
Passenger injury and loss-of-control collisions are very complicated matters. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.