Palm Beach County Car Crash Kills Teenager
15-year-old Ivan Alcala, of Belle Glade, died in a high-speed vehicle wreck that sent six other young people to the hospital.
Police are not sure who was behind the wheel of the vehicle when the driver lost control on State Road 715 near the Morgan Road intersection. The 2014 Honda Accord drove off the road, overturned, and ejected all seven occupants.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the accident.
Speed and Florida Car Crashes
Because it increases the risk of a collision and also increases the force in a car wreck, speed is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Florida.
Speed exponentially increases stopping distance, which is the ground that a car covers from the time the driver sees a hazard to the time the car stops safely. Even though that amount of time may be less than a second or two, high-velocity cars cover great distances during these moments. Typically, stopping distance is about six car lengths at 30mph and eighteen car lengths at 60mph. Adverse environmental factors and the vehicle’s size increase stopping distance even further.
The above case appears to involve overcompensation, which is very common in these cases. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) realizes that s/he cannot make a turn and oversteers in the opposite direction, losing control in the process.
Once the car accident happens, speed increases the force, so bumps and bruises become broken bones and head injuries. In fact, according to Newton’s second law, speed multiples the force in a collision between two objects. As a result, whiplash (violent forces that act on the head and neck during a Florida car crash) is much worse in high-speed crashes. Moreover, unsecured objects inside the car, such as cellphones, essentially become high-speed missiles.
If the victim sustains a serious injury in Port St. Lucie, the victim is entitled to both economic damages, such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Special Issues in Florida Passenger Injury Cases
If a person is injured as a passenger, the insurance company often argues that the passenger is not entitled to compensation under the assumption of the risk rule. This doctrine, which often comes up in sports injury cases, holds that tortfeasors are not liable for damages if the victim:
- Voluntarily Assumed: The assumption can be express (a signed liability waiver) or implied (through conduct). Not all express waivers are voluntary, because they are take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion.
- A Known Risk: If the tortfeasor was driving erratically before the crash, the insurance company has a good chance of establishing this defense. Otherwise, the risk was theoretical as opposed to known, and there is a big difference.
If the insurance company cannot eliminate compensation with the assumption of the risk rule, they at least try to reduce it with the contributory negligence rule. For example, the company might argue that the victims were ejected because they were not wearing seat belts. In Florida, such failure is contributory negligence as a matter of law.
Count on Assertive Lawyers
Injured passengers are often entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. After hours visits are available.