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of Injury Victims

Thomas DeLattre and Glen D. Wieland

Civil liability and a deadly Florida crash

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2024 | Car Accident In Florida |

A recent motor vehicle collision in central Florida, about 80 miles north of Orlando, has been drawing headlines because of the number of deaths and injuries that resulted.

The accident may have been caused by a pickup driver who attempted to pass a bus carrying immigrant farm workers.

The media coverage to date has concentrated on the suspect driver’s criminal record and the possibility of his being intoxicated just before the collision occurred.

However, the tragedy also raises the possibility of civil liability or damages payable to the families of the dead and injured workers.

The accident

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a renovated school bus was heading west on State Road 40 when a pickup truck attempted to pass the bus. The driver of the pickup apparently did not allow enough room to successfully pass the bus. The truck side-swiped the bus, forcing it off the road and into a roadside fence. The bus rolled after striking the fence and came to rest in an adjacent field.

A post-accident investigation uncovered at least 23 previous criminal cases against the truck driver. The charges include failure to wear a seat belt, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of cannabis and careless driving.

At least 40 individuals suffered serious injuries. The passengers were almost entirely citizens of Mexico, and a representative of the Mexican consulate offered assistance to victims and their families.

Civil aspects

 An analysis of civil liability must begin with the driver of the pickup. He appears to bear the burden of liability because he was intoxicated at the time of the collision and because his attempt to pass the bus was most obviously an act of negligence.

The analysis does not stop here. Perhaps the employer of the driver was negligent in hiring him, given his long record of negligent behavior. Or perhaps the employer was negligent in continuing to employ the driver given his record of traffic and driving violations.

The employer might also be found negligent for failing to provide adequate training in the safe operation of motor vehicles on Florida’s hilly roads.


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