Car accidents happen all too often on Florida roads.
So far this year, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there have been 232,218 total crashes with 96,332 crashes causing injuries and 1,634 causing fatalities.
One of those fatal crashes that happened in Tampa on August 10 resulted in three deaths – two adults and one child – and many questions as to what caused the crash.
Details of the Tampa Crash
According to the Tampa Police Department, a 29-year-old woman from Brandon was driving eastbound on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway when she lost control of her Kia and collided with a Hyundai. The crash then sent the Hyundai through the median of the expressway into the westbound lanes where both a Jeep and an Infiniti SUV struck it before being engulfed in flames.
The crash closed the expressway for 10 hours.
Amber Perera, the driver of the Kia, left the scene of the crash without stopping to give aid. She was later picked up and held at the Hillsborough County jail without bail on three counts of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury, and leaving the scene of a crash involving death and destruction of evidence.
Although Perera is being held on suspicion of driving under the influence, her family insists the crash wasn’t caused by drugs or alcohol but by a seizure. Her arrest report doesn’t mention a seizure, but Perera did admit to using Lexapro and Ativan. Both prescription medications are commonly used to treat anxiety, and Ativan is also used to control seizures.
Here is where the story gets stranger: when Perera was arrested 2.5 miles away from the crash site, she was slurring her words and, during a field sobriety test, showed signs of being impaired. She took a blood test at the hospital but, somehow, she was able to obtain the blood vials and hide them in her underwear – hence the destruction of evidence charge.
A second blood sample was then taken and investigators are waiting for the results.
Based on the details of this tragic story, who or what can be blamed for causing the accident?
Negligence and Car Accident Liability
If the family of the victims who died or the individuals who were injured in the crash want to hold someone responsible for the car accident, they will need to prove that another party acted negligently and that the negligence caused the deaths or injuries.
After learning about the circumstances of this particular car accident, we might be quick to say that Perera, as the driver of the Kia that initially caused the accident, is liable for the injuries and deaths that occurred due to the crash.
How was Perera negligent, though?
As of right now, it is unknown if Perera was driving recklessly, but if she drove her vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, then she could be liable for the accident.
If her blood test comes back confirming she was under the influence of alcohol, then her negligence in getting behind the wheel can also hold her responsible for the accident.
However, what about the prescription drugs she admitted to taking? If she didn’t have alcohol in her system and only had prescription drugs, then the drugs and their side effects and warnings will have to be examined to determine if she should or should not have been operating a motor vehicle.
What about the road itself? The expressway didn’t have any guardrails on that particular section of the road. A number of witnesses questioned whether having guardrails there would have prevented the Hyundai from crossing over the median, thus saving people’s lives.
A spokesperson for the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority says that guardrails can also cause vehicles to bounce off the rail and “ricochet back into traffic like a pinball, which can also be dangerous.” In the last four years, there has only been one other crash where a car crossed the expressway’s median.
The investigation into this accident is still ongoing, and, as more details emerge, it might be easier to determine the specific cause of the crash and who might be held liable for damages to the victims and their families.
If you were injured in a car accident that occurred as a result of someone else’s negligence, reach out to an experienced Florida car accident attorney. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to listen to the details of your case and determine the best way to proceed to get you the compensation you deserve.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.