Anyone familiar with West Palm Beach or other South Florida cities knows what a canal is. These are man-made drainage trenches controlled by Utilities and Drainage Districts, and they are there to alleviate flood risks and also for irrigation. They are often fenced-off and are known for being home to alligators. From time to time, we see car accidents in which a vehicle ends up in the one of the canals, which often results in serious personal injury or even death.
According to a recent news article from the Palm Beach Post, a 26-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly crashed his car in to a canal in West Palm Beach and swam across the canal to flee the accident. The car was submerged in deep water in this canal at the time, and there was a female passenger still trapped inside.
Authorities have said the crash occurred when defendant was traveling northbound on South Congress Avenue. He then allegedly crashed into a car that was attempting to turn east at Okeechobee Boulevard. At this point, defendant kept driving and headed on to Okeechobee Boulevard while being pursued by a fully marked patrol car.
When it seemed he could no longer evade police, officers say he jumped out of his car into the canal as the car was crashing into the same canal. At this point, officers tried to fire a Taser at defendant, but the darts missed, and he managed to climb to the opposite bank. He was in a mobile home park. The police broke pursuit to help the woman trapped is his vehicle. She told them she tried to get out of the car, because she didn’t feel he was OK to drive, but he would not let her out of the car.
They caught up with defendant at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach and charged him with drunk driving, leaving the scene of a car accident (hit-and-run), and various other charges, including false imprisonment and driving without a license. However, it should be noted that despite the serious nature of these charges, they are only allegations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury.
As our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers have seen in various cases over the years, sometimes a passenger will be injured in the at-fault driver’s vehicle. While the at-fault driver is likely going to be found liable, generally speaking, there is no liability for passengers. In other words, even though the driver of the car in which you were riding was at-fault, this does not mean you are at-fault. This means you may need to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company to increase the chances of obtaining a full and appropriate financial recovery. However, the clear majority of cases settle well before trial so it is not all that likely you will actually have to file a case against your friend.
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.
NEW: Florida man accused of swimming across canal to flee crash scene, May 20, 2017, By Conner Mitchell, Palm Beach Post
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