Three people died recently in a wrong-way car accident in Florida, including the wrong-way driver and a newly-engaged couple who had just learned they were expecting a child.
The couple, a 24-year-old man and 21-year-old woman, were traveling on Interstate 75 near Tampa when they encountered a 21-year-old motorist traveling in the wrong direction. Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol are investigating the crash, though it’s likely the wrong-way driver will be deemed at-fault. That will open the door for two wrongful death lawsuits against his estate. Although most people don’t have the personal funds to cover the full amount of damages, but usually there are avenues for compensation, such as personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from the victim’s insurer, bodily injury liability benefits from the at-fault driver’s insurer and uninsured/ underinsured motorist benefits from the victim’s insurer. Florida statute also allows for compensation from the vehicle owner (or the vehicle owner’s insurer), if that individual is someone different from the driver.
Wrong-way crashes are a serious problem in Florida, one that the state highway patrol and other advocates have begun trying to address with a number of countermeasures. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports there are approximately 1,500 wrong-way crashes in Florida annually. Not all of those are fatal, but a larger percentage of them are compared to other types of crashes. That’s because most wrong-way collisions are head-on. This type of violent crash accounts for 81 percent of all wrong-way crash fatalities. In cases where motorists are not killed, they are often seriously injured.
FHSMV reports these incidents most often occur at night and during times of transitional light (dawn/ dusk). During these hours, the agency encourages drivers to stay to the right. This can give other motorists the best chance to avoid a collision. If you see a wrong-way driver approaching, immediately reduce your speed, pull ff the roadway and call 911.
As our Orlando car accident attorneys know, our county has a higher-than-average rate of wrong-way crashes. That could be due to a number of factors, including the fact that Orlando is a destination to which many flock each year. Visitors may be unfamiliar with the roads. They may be fatigued from hours on the road. They may also be impaired or distracted. In a single year, Orange County reported 110 wrong-way crashes, resulting in 115 injuries and 8 deaths. That ranks us No. 4 in the state for these types of collisions, behind Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.
Orange County also has by far the highest number of wrong-way driver citations in the state – 105 of the state’s total 774. The No. 2 county for wrong-way driver citations, Miami-Dade, issued 74 tickets. F.S. 316.081 requires all vehicles to be driven on the right half of the roadway, with a few exceptions.
In the most recent crash that claimed the lives of the expecting couple, authorities say the crash happened just before 10 p.m., and was a head-on collision. All three involved were wearing seat belts and each was transported to a nearby hospital before being declared dead. Investigators say they don’t immediately suspect alcohol as a factor, but the investigation is ongoing and a toxicology report is pending.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Newly engaged couple among three killed in wrong-way crash on I-75, Nov. 24, 2017, By Tony Marrero, TampaBay.com
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