After a months-long investigation, Orlando police issued an arrest warrant for the person they say is responsible for an alcohol-related hit and run crash that killed one woman and seriously injured several others.
Last December, according to authorities, a 46-year-old man slammed into a Ford Taurus that four women, as the vehicle sat at a stoplight at the intersection of East Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue. The driver, who left the scene on foot, was travelling at a high rate of speed and possibly intoxicated, according to witnesses. Both the suspect and victim vehicles were nearly totally destroyed; according to the report, “the trunk of the [victim’s] vehicle was almost completely flattened into the rear passenger compartment.” First responders had to extricate one victim from the wreckage. Of the four women, two were injured, one was paralyzed from the waist down, and one was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Police are looking for the alleged hit and run driver, who has twice been convicted of DUI.
Hit and Run Crashes
While the actual percentage varies significantly from place to place, about half of all hit and run drivers are later caught. Many voluntarily turn themselves in or are detained a short distance from the crash site. Others are tracked down either by law enforcement or a personal injury attorney’s private investigator, using such methods as:
- Interviewing witnesses,
- Canvassing the area for additional witnesses,
- Inquiring at local body shops, and
- Reviewing physical evidence, like surveillance video from nearby businesses.
There is a lower standard of evidence in civil court than there is in criminal court – a preponderance of the evidence as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt – so, in negligence cases, hit and run cases are easier to prove.
A private investigator is often more efficient that police officers. Some witnesses are not willing to talk to police officers, for various reasons. Furthermore, first responders are at the scene to care for injured victims and determine fault, not to collect evidence for a negligence case.
In addition to compensation for serious injuries, if the driver is identified, jurors often award punitive damages in these cases.
First Party Alcohol Liability
In most cases, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) submits to a breath or blood BAC test, and these test establish nearly conclusive proof of impairment. But in other cases, the driver refuses to submit to a test or cannot be immediately located. In these instances, the plaintiff can use circumstantial evidence to prove impairment. Such evidence includes:
- Erratic driving,
- The opinions of witnesses and police officers,
- Bloodshot eyes, and
- Unsteady balance.
Impairment begins with as little as one drink, so any evidence that the tortfeasor was drinking is typically sufficient to establish breach of the duty of reasonable care.
Partner with Determined Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a car crash, contact an aggressive attorney in Orlando for a free consultation. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.