Alejandro Romeo, 17, was killed in a car accident in Coral Springs, Florida early Saturday morning. According to news reports, Alejandro Romeo was riding with his mother when a truck crashed into the passenger side of their vehicle. Sadly, Alejandro was in the passenger seat and his mother was driving.
As a car accident attorney, I can tell you that Alejandro Romeo’s family is entitled to very substantial compensation for their loss.
According to a local resident named Kim Jachles, there have been at least two accidents at this same intersection in the last month. “At midnight, those [traffic] lights change to blinking yellow and blinking red [lights] and we’ve had two accidents there in the past month,” Jachles told reporters.
If there is a defect in how the street lights operate or in the way the intersection is designed or maintained, the City may be held accountable for Romeo’s death, especially since the City was aware that this intersection has many accidents.
Aside from the City, the driver of the other vehicle, Wayne McIntosh, 47, may also be held accountable for causing the accident. According to the news, McIntosh, was driving a Nissan truck southbound on Coral Ridge Drive when he collided with Maria Uribe’s Honda Civic as she travelled westbound on Riverside Drive.
Maria Uribe, 52, is Alejandro Romeo’s mother.
A preliminary investigation revealed that Maria Uribe had a flashing red light, whereas Wayne McIntosh had a flashing yellow light.
After colliding with Maria Uribe’s Honda, Wayne McIntosh’s truck continued southbound and crashed into a tree. However, the vehicle did not stop until it also crashed into a school building. The damage to the building was very extensive.(Photo Credit: Mike Stocker, Sun-Sentinel)
The dynamics of McIntosh’s crash are very important because they reveal how fast he was going. Based on my experience as a lawyer, the facts of this case lead me to suspect that McIntosh was travelling at a VERY high rate of speed.
Think of it like this: It took a Honda Civic occupied by two people, a tree, and a building to bring McIntosh’s vehicle to a stop.
While the investigation is still under way, I strongly suspect that Maria Uribe reasonably miscalculated how quickly McIntosh would close the distance between his location and the intersection because of his high rate of speed.
Remember, as the driver with the blinking red light, Maria Uribe had a duty to stop and yield to on-coming traffic. However, as the party with the yellow blinking light, McIntosh had a duty to exercise caution and look for other vehicles as he entered the intersection.
The fact that McIntosh’s vehicle did not come to a stop when he collided with Uribe’s Honda suggests he was travelling at a very high rate of speed… otherwise he would have come to a stop much sooner. This is especially bothersome since we can only assume he slammed on this breaks immediately before, during, and after the first collision with Maria Uribe’s Honda.
While I am no expert in physics, I am very familiar with accident reconstruction and its role in litigation. Based on my experience, I believe this case will be fought and won on the issue of speed.
Why is this important?
To build a winning case for his/her client, an accident attorney must be able to establish three things:
First, an accident lawyer must prove that the other party is responsible for causing the accident. Second, the crash attorney must establish that the offending party’s actions caused his/her client to suffer an injury. Third, the guilty party must be collectible should a judgment be won against them. When it comes to collectability in car accidents, auto insurance usually compensates the victims for their losses in accordance with policy limits and the nature of the injuries.
As such, I suspect that this case will ultimately hinge on whether or not McIntosh is collectible and whether the the City can be held accountable for the intersection at issue. I do not think Maria Uribe is responsible for this accident, unless new information is revealed about the case.
If McIntosh was speeding, he was acting with negligence for two reasons. First, he was breaking the law by failing to follow the rules of the road. Second, he created a dangerous condition when he had a duty to act with caution.
Since accident attorneys for Alejandro Romeo and Maria Uribe will need to focus their attention on proving McIntosh’s high rate of speed at the time of the accident, an expert witness will likely be needed if this case cannot be settled out of court.
This is accomplished by hiring an accident reconstructionist to analyze the evidence left on the road way, such as skid marks, vehicle debris, points of impact, and point of rest. Considering these factors in light of gross vehicle weight, tires, and other conditions, an expert accident reconstructionist is able to determine how fast McIntosh’s vehicle was travelling.
The science of accident reconstruction is time tested and proven to work. Not only is such evidence used by accident lawyers in injury cases, but by prosecutors and law enforcement in criminal cases, such as DUI fatalities.
In any event, this case interests me a great deal given my role as an accident attorney. I feel that Alejandro Romeo and his mother Maria Uribe may be entitled to substantial compensation for their loss and that Wayne McIntosh, along with the City of Coral Springs, may be responsible for contributing to the cause of this accident.
It is also worth mentioning that McIntosh’s passenger, Claude Noralis, may be entitled to compensation for his injuries as well.
Despite my suspicions, it is important to remember that this case is still under investigation and no concrete conclusions as to who is responsible can be drawn at this time.
My heart goes out to everyone who was harmed in this accident, especially Maria Uribe and her family who have suffered the worst kind of loss. I hope that their family is able to heal with time and recover from their terrible grief.