Three-Car Wreck Kills Four People In Highlands County
A 6-year-old child was among the victims of a wrong-way wreck that killed four people and seriously injured several others.
This accident happened in Sebring, near the intersection of Tubbs Ranch Road and U.S. Highway 98. According to police, a sedan containing two adults and a child crossed the centerline, sideswiped a second car, and hit a third one hear-on. All three people in the first car died. The two adults were declared dead at the scene, and the child died later at a nearby hospital. One other person was killed and one other was seriously injured.
Investigators don’t know which victims, if any, were wearing seat belts.
Wrongful Death Claims
The untimely death of a loved one is always very difficult to deal with. These difficulties are immensely worse when the victim is a child. They are worse still when someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing causes that death. In the above story, it appears that either the driver’s negligence or a defective vehicle component caused this young man’s death.
Frequently, the victim and the tortfeasor (negligent driver) had a close relationship. That’s almost always the case if the victim was a passenger in the vehicle. Often, and understandably, these victims hesitate to file legal claims.
But when a Tampa personal injury attorney files a legal claim, this action does not “blame” anyone for the accident. Moreover, the individual is not financially responsible for any damages. Rather, the claim is about obtaining the financial compensation the family needs and deserves. The insurance company is financially responsible for this compensation, as well as legal fees and other associated costs.
Granted, the insurance company will most likely raise the tortfeasor’s rates or even drop coverage. But these things probably would have happened anyway.
Statistically, defective products cause about one in twenty of the car crashes in Florida. Defective tires are by far the leading culprit, followed by defective airbags. These two issues illustrate the two kinds of defective product claims:
- Design Defect: Mostly to save money, many tire manufacturers use the minimum amount of materials necessary. Furthermore, they often exaggerate the amount of wear-and-tear these tires can take. Therefore, in many cases, a tire is more like a time bomb.
- Manufacturing Defect: In the 1990s, the world’s largest airbag manufacturer began using ammonium nitrate as a chemical propellant. This unstable and explosive substance is basically the same compound Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City truck bomb.
Typically, manufacturers are strictly liable for the damages their defective products cause. In a wrongful death claim, these damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as lost future economic contributions, and noneconomic losses, such as lost future emotional support.
The Seat Belt Defense in Florida
For some highly technical legal reasons which aren’t relevant here, most states prohibit the so-called seat belt defense. Florida is one of the few exceptions. If victims are not properly restrained, insurance companies may use this fact to reduce or deny compensation.
However, the seat belt defense is far from automatic. Insurance company lawyers must do much more than cite safety statistics in court.
First, the insurance company must prove that the seat belt was in good working order. This showing is often difficult to make, given the frequency of seat belt recalls and the lack of physical evidence in many catastrophic injury wrecks. Second, the insurance company must prove that the failure to wear a seat belt, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s negligence or the manufacturer’s defective product, substantially caused the victim’s injuries.
Rely on an Experienced Hillsborough County Lawyer
Car crash victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. We routinely handle matters throughout the Tampa Bay area.