An early morning car accident in Miami, Florida has left one person dead and nine injured. The car crash happened on the Dolphin Expressway at approximate 6:44 am. According to news reports, the driver of a 15 passenger van lost control of his/her vehicle, clipped crash attenuators and then rolled over (a crash attenuator is a barrel shaped container present on the sides of the highway design to absorb impact in the event of a car accident).
After losing control, two other vehicles then crashed into the van. So far, it appears as though a total of five vehicles were involved in the crash.
According to Zachary Zalabert, his relative was the driver of the passenger van. It is being reported that the van was full of migrant workers who were being driven to work by down South.
The person who was killed was left in the roadway while investigators did their work. One person with life threatening injuries was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center. Two of the remaining people were also listed in life-threatening condition, five were in serious condition, and one was in stable condition.
Given the death and serious injuries suffered in this case, it is clear that the victims may be entitled to very substantial financial compensation for their damages.
Hopefully the survivors will have a full recovery as soon as possible.
From the perspective of an injury lawyer, I can tell you that this case will come down to a question of liability. In other words, as I have discussed many times on this blog, winning injury cases comes down to two main components.
First, did one party do something that was wrong? In legal speak, this is referred to as liability. Second, did that party’s action (or inaction) cause injuries to others?
When both of these factors are present, an injury attorney has the bare minimum necessary to begin building a case.
When it comes to the car accident that happened this morning, it is clear that the injuries are extremely serious and are very pervasive. One person is dead, three have life threatening injuries, five are in serious condition, and one is injured, but stable.
As a result, the damage component of is already well established.
Therefore, the ultimate question in this case will concern liability. In other words, who is responsible for causing the accident and why?
Based on the facts reported in the news, it seems as though the driver of the 15 passenger van is the one who caused the accident. However, more information is needed before any concrete conclusions may be drawn.
That is why this is such a crucial time in this case. Preserving evidence and figuring out what happened is extremely important. For example, 911 call tapes need to be preserved and listened to and the scene of the accident must be canvassed for surveillance video. Eye witnesses need to be located and contacted. Preserving the evidence now will give injury attorneys the evidence they need to fight this case later.
According to eye witness Jorge Rodriguez, “The van caught on fire. It started flaming and everything… I look at the front of the vehicle and I see the guy with his head through the windshield.”
Another passerby, Daniel Lemus, used his vehicle to stop traffic. He also used a fire extinguisher to put out fires. Together, he and Rodriguez pulled victims from the wreckage until help could arrive.
As helpful and good intentioned as Rodriguez and Lemus may have been, I wonder if their actions caused any additional injuries to the victims. Unfortunately, it is very common for good Samaritans to make car accident injuries even worse by simply moving the victims from their vehicles to another location.
This is most common when car accident victims suffer neck and back injuries. In fact, when someone has a broken neck or broken back, the worst thing one can do is move them. Movement under these circumstances has been known to cause further injury to the spinal cord, sometimes even causing paralysis.
That is why fire rescue personnel always use wooden boards and neck braces to move car accident victims from the scene of a car accident.
Ultimately, the eye witness observations will likely provide injury attorneys with the most accurate source of information possible.
After eye witness testimony is considered, injury lawyers will also turn to the physical evidence collected on scene to tell them what happened. Such as: tread-marks from tires, gouging in the roadway, debris fields, positions of rest of the vehicles, and the location of damage on the vehicles.
While this part of the investigation is being conducted, injury lawyers will also be looking in to the insurance policies held by those who might be responsible. This information is crucial because insurance companies are usually the main source of compensation for those injured in car accidents.
For instance, the passenger van likely had good insurance simply because it sounds like it was used as a commercial passenger vehicle.
At the end of the day, this case is just beginning to get started. Injury attorneys who represent those effected have a lot of homework to complete to make sure that their clients have the best chance at winning their cases later on. At this stage of the case (and any other stage for that matter), there is absolutely no substitute for hard work by the lawyers. If it is not done now and it is not done correctly, the clients will suffer later on.
Hopefully those injured in this accident will have a speedy recovery. My condolences go out to the family of the person who was killed. How unfortunate.