Scott Thompson and Kenrdick Kevin were killed in a Lake City, Florida car accident early Wednesday morning. Thompson and Kendrick were accompanied by four other men, Christopher S. Guillaume, 19, Delano Powell, 19, Jeremy W. Florvil, 18, and Emmanual Bautista, 17. The group of young men were driving back to Tallahassee Community College following their winter break here in South Florida. (Photo credit: Patrick Scott and Sun-Sentinel)
While Scott Thompson and Kendrick Kevin were killed, Bautista and Powell are in serious condition and are receiving medical treatment at University of Florida’s Shands Hospital. Guillaume is also at Shands, but is listed in critical condition.
According to news reports, Kevin Maurice was driving his 2004 Pontiac sedan northbound on I-75 when the vehicle drove off the highway, went airborne, and ultimately crashed into a tree. The vehicle was nearly split in half by the tree it collided with.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed, but it is not yet clear what caused it to leave the roadway. It is also alleged that none of the young men were wearing seat belts and all six were ejected from the vehicle upon impact.
Crash Analysis: Is there Liability?
Looking at the facts of this case, as they are reported in the news media, I have a number of thoughts. First, it is clear that the damages sustained by the passengers is absolutely catastrophic. Scott Thompson lost his life and the others seem to have serious and critical injuries. Second, from an injury lawyer’s perspective, the liability portion of this case seems to be mixed.
On the one hand, Kendrick Kevin is said to have been speeding. He may also be responsible for causing the vehicle to leave the roadway. On the other hand, noone was wearing seat belts.
While seat belts are always a good idea, I nonetheless wonder how much of a difference they would have made in this case. Looking at the photograph of the accident, it appears as though the impact was so serious that seat belts would not have help prevent the injuries.
The investigation into what happened will remain open until all the witnesses can be questioned. Since Delano Powell, Emmanual Bautista, and Christopher S. Guillaume are still receiving medical treatment, it may be some time before they can tell investigators what happened, if they remember.
The Role of an Injury Lawyer
At this stage of the case, it is clear that the survivors are completely focused on getting medical attention, as they should be. As for the families of the deceased men, there is no doubt that it will take time before the initial shock wanes.
However, from an injury lawyer’s perspective, this case requires immediate attention. Lets be clear about something… the victims in this case are not only entitled to compensation, but they may need it to pay for their medical bills, future health care treatment, and disability. Cases like these are not about slipping on a banana in a super market and getting extra cash for lottery tickets.
This is a really serious case and the future financial needs of these men are a real issue that must be addressed.
For that reason, the families of the deceased and the survivors should immediately hire injury lawyers to represent their interests in this case. Time is of the essence because it is important to initiate an independent investigation into what happened before evidence is lost.
For example, don’t you think it would be important to know if Kendrick Kevin, the driver, was sending text messages at the time of the crash? Obtaining copies of the police reports and crash reports is essential at this stage.
Right now, the victim’s injury lawyers need to focus on building a case and using the law to preserve evidence. Without evidence, it will be very hard to fight a case in court later on.
Communicating with Insurance Companies
If the victims in this case will ever obtain compensation for their injuries, odds are it will come from the insurance policy held by the driver, Kendrick Kevin. As a college student, it is doubtful that he owned any appreciable assets by himself. for that reason, his auto insurance will likely be the only source of compensation in this case. However, if he was driving another person’s car, that person may also have liability, especially if it is proven that the car accident was caused by something like poorly maintained breaks.
Regardless, the injury lawyers who work on this case will need to communicate with the relevant insurance companies to begin negotiating a resolution of the case.
At this point, most of the important information is not publicly available, therefore, it is impossible to drawn any concrete conclusions.
There is no doubt that this case is tragic. For years, I have always heard of these horror stories where students are killed on the their way to and from college. I think the time has come for a better awareness movement on campus to stress the importance about wearing seat belts and driving safely. This is especially important for schools like TCC and UF that have such a high population of students that drive from far away cities or catch rides with others.
Lets face it, at the end of the day this just a group of college kids. If they were speeding or driving a little crazy, well thats expected due to their age. Its unfortunate that so many people had to be hurt as a result.
For what its worth, my heart goes out to their families.