Sadly, Irina Reinoso, age 22, was killed in a Miami, Florida car accident as she rode as a passenger in a Smart Car driven by Mila Dago, also 22. News reports indicate that Mila Dago drove the Smart Car through a red light at the intersection of Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 15th Street around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Irina Reinoso was not the only person affected by Dago’s decision to run the red light. Benjamin Byrum was also hurt and suffered a concussion and spinal injury. Following the crash, Benjamin Byrum was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital and later released.
As an injury attorney looking at this from a legal stand point, I can tell you this case is a wrongful death matter.
As the passenger in Mila Dago’s Smart Car, Irina Reinoso was not responsible for causing the accident that took her life. She was not the one behind the wheel of the Smart Car, nor was she the one behind the wheel of Benjamin Byrum’s pickup truck.
For the loss of her life, Irina’s family can make a successful claim against Mila’s auto insurance company. To prevail in any car accident fatality case, the person making the claim must find three things in their case:
1) A person who did something wrong to cause the accident. In law, we call this “Liability.”
2) Some kind of quantifiable injury that was sustained as a result. In this case, the injury is Irina’s death.
3) Collectability… which usually comes form insurance companies that insured the responsible party.
As an injury attorney, I can tell you that I have little doubt in my mind about Irina Reinoso’s rights as a victim in this case. The same thing applies to Benjamin Byrum. Even though he was not killed, he is still entitled to compensation for his injuries, to pay his medical bills, for his pain and suffering, as well as any lasting disability.
That said, cases like these come down to the extent of insurance coverage. When hired on a case, determining such policy limits is on of the first things an injury attorney will do.
However, I do not want this article to only be about the law. A woman has lost her life and there is another big issues that must be addressed:
I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t think these cars are safe. Remember this picture? In this advertisement, the suggestion is that a Smart Car can withstand the weight of an SUV. While that may be true in the circumstances depicted in this photo, please tell me the last time a car accident involved gently placing an SUV on top of parked car? Give me a friggin break!
In the real world, car accidents happen when vehicles are moving, usually into each other and usually at high rates of speed. This picture is a farce and it is suggest a misleading sense of false security.
The only way I would drive one is if that is what everyone else was driving. I don’t care how many air bags, seat belts, reinforced frames, or crumple zones these cars have, they are missing one crucial elements needed to survive a serious car accident: MASS.
These cars, if they can be called that, are super small and ultra-lightweight. According to Edmunds.com, the 2013 2-door coupe Smart Car has a curb weight of 1808 lbs. By comparison, a 2014 Toyota Camry XLE has a curb weigh of 3245 lbs., which is almost double!
To take the comparison even further, consider this: Benjamin Byrum’s Chevrolet Silverado had a curb weight of 5630-6469 lbs., depending on the model.
Using these figures for comparison purposes, that means Benjamin Byrum’s pickup truck had a 3822-4661 lbs. advantage over Mila Dago’s smart car… and that does not even consider any additional weight added to the pickup truck by any cargo he was carrying. A look at the photos from this car accident show that Byrum did in fact have cargo… how much additional weight it added is not presently known.
If you added up the weight of three Smart Cars, the pickup truck still had the advantage.
In fact, the difference in weight between a Smart Car and a Chevrolet Silverado is more than the weight of a Toyota Camry.
You don’t need to be a professor of physics to understand the role that weight plays in a car accident. It is no different than boxing. You don’t pit heavy weights against welterweights in the same ring… because the heavyweights will pummel the little guy.
Now, it is perfectly reasonable to have vehicles of different sizes and weights on the roadway. We don’t all have to start driving Chevrolet Silverados. However, there is a limit on how small and how lightweight a car can be before it falls below a minimum safety standard.
Whenever a company designs a product, a manufactures it, and then places it in the stream of commerce, they are responsible for it. I personally think that Smart Car knows their vehicle suffers from a very serious design flaw in regards to vehicle weight and safety. Instead of being candid about it, they try to convince us that the cars are much safer than they really are.
Trust me, no airbag in the world will save your little Smart Car from a pickup truck.
I wonder of Irina Reinoso would still be alive today if she was a passenger in a Toyota Camry instead of a Smart Car? How many other people in this country would also be alive?
Would Mila Dago have driven a Smart Car if she suspected it wasn’t safe? How much of Smart Car’s safety marketing entered her decision making?
Can a Smart Car really go toe-to-toe with an SUV? What do you think?
Sadly, Mila Dago made a bad decision when she drove through that intersection. Irina Reinoso has lost her life and Benjamin Byrum has a concussion and a spinal injury.
The losses in this case are tragic. I am sure Mila was just doing what all 22 year olds like to do at 5:30 in the morning… be immature and have fun. That said, she is an adult and with being adult comes responsibility.
Hopefully she has enough insurance coverage to make this as right as it can be made for the victims and their families. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of this claim from a legal standpoint would be a good idea.
My condolences go out to the Reinoso family and I also wish Mr. Byrum a speedy recovery.