David Benitez, 16, was killed in a car crash in St. Lucie County, Florida last night. According to news reports, David Benitez was ejected from an SUV after it veered into the median on I-95 and flipped over. After he was ejected, his body landed in the northbound lanes of I-95 where he was horrifically run over by two different vehicles.
Donia Otano, 14, was also seriously injured after she too was ejected from the SUV. Emergency crews responding to the scene found her laying on the median underneath the SUV. It is unknown whether or not she will survive from her injuries.
The driver of the SUV, Midialia Rodriguez, 39, was also hospitalized in serious condition along with two other passengers.
This case sounds like a horrific nightmare all around. I can’t even begin to imagine what the families of these people are going through.
However, my purpose in writing this blog is to adress the legal issues and discuss them from my perspective as an injury lawyer.
Given the terrible loss of life and extreme nature of the injuries sustained by those involved, I can tell you that the “victim” parties are entitled to very substantial monetary compensation for their injuries and losses.
To understand how this works, one must first get into the mind of an accident attorney and appreciate what it takes to build a winning case.
Generally speaking, winning cases are comprised of three main elements. First, an injury lawyer must prove that the “guilty” party did something wrong to cause the accident. In legal terminology, this is referred to as “negligence.”
Second, the accident attorney must be able to prove his/her client suffered injuries as a result of the negligent actions of the other person. In this case, injuries are obvious when it comes to David Benitez since he was killed. When it comes to the other injured parties, proving the extent of their injuries, any disability, or future lost earnings will be essential.
For instance, my experience as a trial lawyer tells me that some, if not all, of those injured in this accident will surely have traumatic brain injury. I especially expect this for Donia Otano, unfortunately.
The third thing an accident lawyer must determine is whether or not the “guilty” party has assets or insurance to pay a claim.
Based on my experience, I suspect that this case will come down to the third element. In other words, it is clear that someone acted with negligence… SUV’s don’t just flip over for no reason and the injuries caused as a result are incredibly serious.
Given these realities, it will be up to David Benitez and Donia Otano’s injury attorneys to investigate the insurance policies carried by Midialia Rodriguez and any other responsible party.
As a side note, I am not saying Midialia Rodriguez is responsible for this accident just yet. More information is needed. However, as the driver of the SUV that flipped over, she is most likely liable to the passengers, including David Benitez and Donia Otano, for their injuries.
For this reason, her insurance would likely be held accountable for paying them compensation.
In any event, this case is an example of a terrible accident with a terrible outcome. I hope that the those affected have a speedy recovery both from their physical losses as well as their grief.