Legal liability for car accidents

by Sean M. Cleary on March 2, 2013

Teen couple victim of reckless driving

February 26, 2013 Old Melbourne Highway was the scene of a tragic car accident. Rachel Price, 18 and her boyfriend Jamaree Cook, 19 were travelling from a visit home back to college passing through St. Cloud. Just east of St. Cloud a 2002 Ford pickup cut in front of their vehicle, a 2003 Hyundai. The Hyundai smashed into the pickup and then hit a 2007 Ford sport utility vehicle stopped at the intersection. The vehicle caught on fire killing both teenagers. The driver of the pickup was arrested at the scene. The officer making the arrest declared, the driver, a 47 years old St. Cloud resident, seemed to be under the influence of alcohol.

Florida car accident statistics

According to national statistics more than 37,000 U.S. citizens suffer fatal car accidents each year, 2,500 of them on Florida roads. The number of injured or disabled victims rises as high as 2.3 million. Besides the human victims road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year. The leading causes of car accidents are as follows:

  • Driver distraction: including talking on a cell, texting and eating
  • Excessive speeding
  • Drunk driving
  • Reckless driving: including speeding, changing lanes too quickly, tailgating and running red lights
  • Inexperienced driver
  • Defective auto parts: including defective tires, seatbelts, airbags or any other component

Legal liability for car accidents

According to personal injury law any person or corporation that acted in a negligent manner and led to an automobile accident can be held legally responsible either by the victims and his relatives or by the state depending on the circumstances of the case. In the above mentioned case the driver of the Ford pickup if found intoxicated at the time of the collision, is likely to face criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter.

An automobile accident, if resulted in fatalities, can be the subject of both a criminal and civil litigation. Criminal lawsuits are filed by the state against defendants that allegedly acted in a negligent manner causing the death of other individuals in the traffic. The purpose of such a lawsuit is to provide a conviction. Civil lawsuits are filed by the victim or his surviving relatives, in which case the charges will be for wrongful death. The purpose of a civil lawsuit is to provide monetary compensation for the victim, designed to cover the costs of the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages during recovery and property damages resulted from the accident.

Florida law also has the concept of shared liability. In case both drivers were responsible for the accident, damages can still be awarded in opposite proportion with the liability. In case one driver was running at excessive speed while the other was talking on his cell, a judge or jury might decide the first driver is 60% liable for the accident, while the second is 40% liable. If that is the case the first driver will recover 40% of his damages, while the second 60% of it.

Liable for car accidents can also be automobile manufacturing companies in case one of the vehicles involved had a defective design or it was found to be unreasonably dangerous. Automobile component manufacturers or car dealers might also be responsible according to the circumstances just like companies responsible for proper maintenance of the roads.

How can The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary help?

If you were involved in a severe car accident or you just lost someone close as a result of a fatal crash, the last thing you want to deal with are personal injury laws. Automobile accidents can be very complex and while sometimes liability is obvious in other occasions it is difficult to prove. You might also be at risk of losing important evidence or exceeding the statute of limitation, actions that will compromise your chances of recovering damages.

We have all the necessary skills, experience and resources to investigate the circumstances of your case. We also work together with accident reconstruction experts to prove your case and with medical experts who are able to establish the full extent of your medical costs and long term treatments, so the compensation you receive would indeed cover your damages. Contact us as soon as possible and let us take care of the rest.


Sean M. Cleary
Sean M. Cleary
Sean M. Cleary

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