A 28-year-old young professional had just moved in with his girlfriend a month ago. He spent the evening at a holiday party with co-workers and friends, celebrating the close of a strong year for the company in Central Florida. He did the right thing and called for a sober driver to pick him up and take him safely back to his apartment.
Meanwhile, a 29-year-old sheriff’s deputy was in the middle of an eventful shift. Hours earlier, he was involved in a multi-car chase involving a drunk driver. The driver had speed away when the deputy to pull her over. Several others joined the chase, though this one stopped to help a passenger who flung herself out of the moving vehicle. The chase ended with a crash at an intersection a few miles away. Although the driver allegedly rammed another deputy’s vehicle, no one was seriously hurt, and the suspected drunk driver was arrested on numerous charges, including driving under the influence and fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer.
Hours later, at around 1:40 a.m., the sheriff’s deputy, along with a new hire riding in his passenger seat, approached that very same intersection where the earlier chase had ended. At the same time, a sedan driven by a 73-year-old Uber driver also approached that intersection. At this point, it’s not clear who had the red light, but the two vehicles crashed violently. The 28-year-old professional was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The elderly Uber driver was seriously injured. The sheriff’s deputy and the new recruit suffered minor injuries.
“I need to find out why my child died,” she told a reporter. “Just 28-years-old. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
Indeed, it would be difficult in this situation to find any level of comparative fault for the passenger of a hired vehicle. The evidence gleaned in the coming weeks will be critical in determining whether there will be any criminal charges or citations and also the direction of any subsequent wrongful death lawsuit.
If the Uber driver had the red light, the decedent’s estate could pursue action against that driver individually, as well as most likely against Uber. Although insurance coverage of on-demand vehicle service has been a murky legal question, Uber, Sidecar and Lyft all have insurance policies that allow coverage for drivers who are either en route to pick up passengers or who are driving passengers. According to WalletHub.com, policies each provide up to $1 million in commercial liability insurance. Lyft and Uber further offer $1 million in Underinsured/ Uninsured motorist coverage.
If the sheriff’s deputy was at-fault in the crash, it may be tougher to collect full damages. Government employees are generally protected under sovereign immunity laws, though there may be grounds to bring a claim under certain circumstances. But even if the claim is successful, the most one could anticipate collecting on such a claim is $200,000, absent approval from the state legislature.
If you have been involved in Miami car accident, contact our experienced injury attorneys today.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Man killed after crash between Uber car, Seminole cruiser, Dec. 14, 2015, By Elyssa Cherney, Orlando Sentinel
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Caitlyn Jenner Lawsuit and the Rebuttable Presumption of Rear-End Collisions, Dec. 14, 2015, Miami Personal Injury Attorney Blog