Dual Fatal Wrong-Way Collision in Tampa
Two women are dead after one of them, for reasons which are unclear, drifted into oncoming traffic.
The wreck occurred in the early morning hours on the Dale Mabry Highway. According to police and witnesses, a southbound driver crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a northbound vehicle. Both drivers died almost instantly.
No other details were available.
Fault v. Liability in Car Crash Cases
Insurance adjusters and emergency responders almost always exclusively use the facts to determine fault after a vehicle collision. That simple determination is often misleading Sometimes, they add old wives’ tales about the law, which makes things even worse.
Wrong-way collisions are a good example. Most responders and adjusters believe all these crashes are the same. But that’s normally not the case.
The last clear chance rule frequently comes into play. This rule is based on the principle that all drivers have a duty to avoid all accidents at all times, regardless of what other drivers do or don’t do.
Assume that, one dark and stormy night, Stan mistakes an off ramp for an on ramp. There’s no other traffic on the road, so he does not think anything is amiss, even though he is on the wrong side of the road. Ollie sees Stan approaching. Yet Ollie does not change lanes or do anything else to get out of Stan’s way.
In this scenario, both drivers violated the duty of care. Stan didn’t follow the rules of the road, and Ollie didn’t avoid an accident. However, Ollie had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. Since he did not use that chance, he may be legally responsible for Stan’s damages.
Now assume Stan and Ollie are approaching each other on opposite sides of the road. Suddenly and without warning, Stan swerves over the centerline and into Ollie’s path.
This time, only Stan violated the duty of care. He unexpectedly pulled into Ollie’s path. So, there was nothing Ollie could do to stop the wreck.
Things get really complicated if Stan swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting a deer or another similar collision. In these cases, another legal doctrine, the sudden emergency rule, might apply. But that’s the subject of another blog.
The bottom line is that, even if an emergency responder said you were at fault, always have a Tampa personal injury attorney evaluate your case. You might still be entitled to compensation.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Evidence is critical in the liability phase of a trial, as illustrated by the aforementioned Stan/Ollie conundrum. Proof is also very important in the damages portion of a personal injury trial. Generally, there’s a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of noneconomic damages a Hillsborough County jury awards.
Additional punitive damages are sometimes available in negligence cases. These damages, which are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) intentionally disregarded a known risk, deter future wrongdoing and punish the negligent driver. A punitive damages cap applies in some cases.
Count on a Dedicated Lawyer
Fault and liability often are not synonymous in a car wreck claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these situations.