Two Port St. Lucie Residents Fatally Injured In Georgia Crash
An impaired driver ran off Interstate 75 in Bartow County, killing two passengers onboard.
The two people were pronounced dead at a local hospital after the driver, a 58-year-old man, veered out of his lane and off the road. The Dodge Caravan then barrelled through several trees before rolling over onto its side.
The man now faces multiple charges, including vehicular manslaughter and DUI.
These questions come up not only when the victim was away from home, but also when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) worked for a shipping or transportation company. One reading of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is that these suits may be filed anywhere that the defendant does business, so if the tortfeasor was an Uber driver, a damage claim could theoretically be filed in almost any county of almost any state in the country.
Much like shoppers usually look for the shortest checkout line if they have a choice between several registers, attorneys usually look for a plaintiff-friendly venue to file damage claims, if a choice is available. But in several cases over the last few months, the United States Supreme Court sharply limited this practice, which some people call forum-shopping.
So now, the best practice is to file an out-of-state lawsuit where the crash occurred or where the defendant is headquartered. If the case is filed in the wrong place and the judge throws it out, correcting this error costs money and time.
The decades-long crackdown against “drunk driving” seems to have had little effect, as despite tough new laws and tough new law enforcement tactics, alcohol is a factor in a third of the nation’s fatal car crashes. The issue may be changing, because impairment by drugs is almost as common as alcohol impairment in some areas.
Alcohol-related liability is usually rather easy to establish, as most jurors know that drivers are dangerously impaired after the first drink. But drugged driving cases are a little more complicated, because although all these substances are impairing to some extent, they do not all affect the brain the same way that alcohol does. In some cases, there may be more impairment, and less impairment in other situations.
Drugged driving cases are an excellent illustration of how the negligence per se (negligence “as such”) shortcut helps victim/plaintiffs. In drug impairment cases, a jury can conclude that the tortfeasor was responsible for damages as a matter of law, and the victim/plaintiff need not bother with additional testimony that is time-consuming and often confusing.
Insurance Company Defenses
In passenger fatality cases, one common defense is the assumption of the risk rule. The theory is that people who get into cars with drunk drivers are responsible for their own injuries. The rule has two basic prongs which may or may not apply to the above case:
- Voluntary Assumption: If these passengers were several hundred miles away from home, had little or no money, and no other way to get home, did they really have any other choice except to get in the tortfeasor’s car? This same logic applies in other cases as well, because for example, calling Mom or Dad for a ride may not be an option for minors who were at parties where alcohol was served.
- Known Risk: Simply getting into a car presents a theoretical risk, because fatal car crashes happen. Getting into a car with an impaired driver is a higher level of theoretical risk, because although the chance of injury is higher, most drunk drivers do not crash. For the passengers to assume a known risk, they must arguably witness the tortfeasor drive erratically or commit some other error.
Compensation in serious injury crashes includes money for economic and noneconomic losses. Punitive damages are also available, in some cases.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
Many car crashes involve serious injuries and intricate legal issues. For prompt assistance from an experienced personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.