Mark Robert Leal was killed in a Greenacres, Florida car accident earlier today. Sadly, three other people who have yet be named were injured as well. The Trauma Hawk emergency helicopter transported surviving victims to Delray Medical Center for treatment. Their present condition is not known.
According to news reports, this case is presently under investigation by police and the details have not yet been made public. The only thing we know at the present time is that it was a two-vehicle crash between a minivan and a 4-door car.
As a personal injury attorney, I suspect that the passengers in this case will most likely be entitled to compensation for their injuries. This may include medical bills, pain and suffering, as well as long term economic losses including disability.
As investigators do their work, they are looking at a number of specific things and are using a time tested investigative process.
The first step in a case of this type is to seal off the accident scene and render emergency medical aid to those who need it. Clearly, the need to preserve life and well being trumps the need to investigate.
Once the injured are extracted and sent for medical care, investigators will converge on the scene and begin their work. Once sealed, an investigator will be designated as a watch person. This person’s job is to write down who enters and leaves the accident scene and at what times.
Simultaneously, crime scene technicians will begin preserving evidence by taking photographs and drafting a sketch of the scene of the accident. They will take measurements and identify where each vehicle has come to rest.
Investigators will also scour the scene for eye witnesses. As good as some forensic evidence can be, the best source of information about what happened comes from people who saw the accident.
Ultimately, reports will be written and photographs will be developed. This information may be presented to an accident reconstructionist at a later date for analysis.
While some cases are hard to decipher, others are pretty easy to figure out simply by looking at the accident scene. Using common sense when evaluating evidence is an obvious key ingredient.
That said, the ultimate issue is to determine “causation.” In legal talk, this means identifying the root cause of the accident. Once police complete their work, the first step for an injury attorney is to conduct his/her own independent investigation.
Is one party responsible or did both parties do something wrong to cause the accident? If both parties did something wrong to cause the accident did they do so equally or is one more responsible than the other?
These and a host of other questions must be answered because we need to know what caused the accident. If a traffic law was violated, police may issue a citation. Worse yet, if a criminal law was violated, police may make an arrest. For instance, if drugs or alcohol played a role, a DUI arrest may be forthcoming. Once causation has been established, the next step is to do an injury assessment.
Again, it is important to highlight that this case is still under investigation and we do not yet know what caused it.
However, once that determination has been made, injury lawyers will be able to figure out which parties have the legal right to make a claim.
That said, I can tell you that injured passengers will likely be entitled to compensation no matter which driver is at fault. Whether it was the driver of the car they were in or the other driver, they obviously played no role in causing the crash… unless of course this is a bizarre accident where a passenger did something crazy like grab the wheel, which has happened before but is extremely uncommon.
Accordingly, I strongly suspect that the passengers in this case may have grounds for solid claims against the drivers in this case.
As more information comes out we will continue to post updates.
Most importantly, our condolences go out to Mark Leal’s family for their loss. Whether he is a victim or a responsible party, he is still a victim. I am sure this accident was one of those freak things that happened without an evil motive or malicious intent. Sadly, someone has lost his life as a result. I also pray that the injured benefit from a speedy recovery and are able to resume life as normal as quickly as can be.