The families of two young women who were killed, reportedly by a wrong-way driver who had previously described herself as the “pothead princess,” are filing wrongful death lawsuits.
The car accident lawsuit alleges negligence on behalf of the driver, as well as the owner of the vehicle. Authorities say the 20-year-old wrong-way driver entered the Florida expressway and struck another vehicle traveling in the correct direction. The two occupants of the other vehicle – two 21-year-old women – were killed. The 20-year-old was seriously injured, as was her passenger.
While toxicology results are still pending, the media has reported that only a handful of hours prior to the crash, the 20-year-old wrong-way driver had posted to a social media account the status,”2 Drunk 2 Care.” A catalog of her prior social media postings show numerous postings of marijuana and references to drug use and alcohol.
The lawsuit says that the owner of the vehicle knew or should have known that the 20-year-old was a reckless and/or inexperienced driver. He had a duty of care to other motorists not to place them in jeopardy by handing his keys over to someone who was known to regularly and proudly display her intoxication and involvement with illegal substances. Given the pattern of drug and alcohol use referenced on her various social media profiles, the families may have a strong case.
The family of the 20-year-old is alleging her account was hacked, though it isn’t clear what proof they have of that claim.
In South Carolina, wrong-way crashes are a major problem. Just before Thanksgiving in Clarendon County, a driver going the wrong way on I-95 was killed when he collided with another vehicle. The other driver was hospitalized in critical condition.
While the South Carolina Highway Patrol continues to investigate that crash, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report late last year detailing the factors that often play into these types of wrecks. Alcohol played a frequent role, as did older drivers impaired by prescribed medications. Faulty traffic control devices and highway designs were also mentioned.
Although wrong-way accidents are relatively infrequent, accounting for about 3 percent of all crashes on divided highways, the NTSB notes that the severity of these crashes means they account for a disproportionate number of fatalities. A study in Virginia revealed that wrong-way collisions on controlled-access highways were nearly 30 times as fatal as other types of wrecks on the same stretches of roadway.
Another study out of Michigan revealed that wrong-way highway crashes were fatal 22 percent of the time, compared to a 0.3 percent fatality rate for other types of crashes.
It’s estimated that on average, about 360 people die annually in some 260 wrong-way crashes each year. This rate has essentially remained unchanged for the last six years, meaning not enough is being done to address the problem.
Between 2004, federal authorities report that nearly 2,140 people have died in wrong-way wrecks, and that doesn’t include incidents that occurred on two-lane highways or incidents in which the wrong-way driver crossed over the median.
The NTSB has studied the issue numerous times since the late 1960s, resulting in a list of some 30 countermeasures that would help reduce these instances if they were adopted. A number of states have taken these recommendations to heart, including North Carolina, which in 2005 and 2006 conducted a statewide study of the problem. However, South Carolina has yet to formally address the issue.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Families of Two Sawgrass Wrong-Way Crash Victims Sue Driver, Car Owner, Dec. 5, 2013, Laura Rodriguez, NBC6
More Blog Entries:
Child-Related Driving Distractions More Dangerous Than Cell Phones: Report, Dec. 8, 2013, Anderson Car Accident Lawyer Blog