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Lawsuits target Florida after crashes

The state of Florida will likely face a number of lawsuits following a series of crashes on Interstate 75. So far, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has been informed of 13 planned lawsuits against it, filed by victims or the families of those killed in the crashes. The accidents left 18 people injured and another 11 dead. The victims include one group of five people, who were killed as they traveled in their church van.

Victims of a serious car accident or their families may be able to secure damages against the parties responsible for their losses by filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit. The resulting money compensates the plaintiffs for their injuries, pain and suffering.

The highway had been closed prior to the accident after fog and smoke from a nearby wildfire severely hampered visibility. Approximately 30 minutes before the crashes began, a lieutenant with the Florida Highway Patrol ordered the road reopened. An FLP sergeant reportedly voiced concerns regarding the safety of that decision, but the lieutenant issued the order regardless. He explained that he thought leaving the Interstate closed could create more danger by clogging other roadways.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a report about the incident, finding that the FLP lieutenant did not commit any crimes. However, the FLDE did claim that the lieutenant was not properly trained in FLP policies regarding the closure and opening of roads. The report also shows that the lieutenant's order received support from other state agencies, like the FDOT and the Florida Forest Service.

The state highway safety department announced that it will review the FLDE report and undertake its own independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crashes. The agency's head said that the state may not respond to all media questions due to the pending lawsuits against it.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Florida facing impending lawsuits over I-75 crashes," Aug. 7, 2012

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