Why did the turtle cross the road? Who knows, but the turtle probably wasn’t intending to cause a multi-vehicle accident on Florida Route 331. Motive aside, that’s exactly what happened. And, while the turtle may be primarily at fault, turtles are what we call judgment-proof. Thus, in an accident like this, it begs the question of which driver was at fault.
According to a local news report, the accident occurred on Florida Route 331 as the driver of a black pickup truck noticed a small turtle crossing the road. Thinking they were doing the right thing, the driver stopped in the middle of the road to allow the turtle to pass. Not surprisingly, as cars approached from behind, drivers had to slam on their brakes or swerve out of the way to avoid a rear-end collision. However, an approaching semi-truck was unable to come to a complete stop in time and rammed into the back of the black pickup truck as well as at least one other vehicle. The incapacitated semi-truck then ended up coming to a stop in the lane of oncoming traffic.
Legal Analysis of the Accident
This accident raises two different issues, both of which relate to how Florida courts determine which driver was at fault for an accident. The first is the concept that drivers who rear-end another motorist are presumed to be at fault. This presumption applies because most rear-end accidents are the result of a driver following too closely or being distracted. However, the presumption can be rebutted, for example, in situations where a driver’s tail lights are out so motorists behind them can’t see if they are braking.
The other concept that comes into play is the general rule that motorists should not come to a complete stop in the middle of the road. In fact, if a driver stops in the middle of the road for no reason, it can rebut the presumption that the rear-end driver was at fault for the collision.
The Facts Applied to the Law
In this accident, it’s not entirely clear who was at fault. On one hand, the driver who stopped for the turtle certainly started a chain of events that resulted in the accident. However, on the other hand, the semi-truck driver could very well have been distracted or been following too closely. To get to the bottom of a case like this, a deeper investigation would be required to determine when the semi-truck driver applied their brakes and how closely they were following the vehicle ahead of them.
However, the most likely scenario is that both drivers would share some percentage of fault. Under Florida’s new modified comparative negligence law, any driver can recover damages from another at-fault driver, provided the driver was not more than 50 percent responsible for the collision. However, the driver’s damages award is reduced by their percentage of fault. Of course, if a driver is more than 50 percent at fault, they cannot recover anything.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?
If you were recently injured in a Florida car accident, you may not be able to sue a turtle, deer, cow or other animal that caused the accident; however, you may be entitled to compensation from an at-fault driver. At the Blakeley Law Firm, P.A., our dedicated team of Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers has decades of experience representing accident victims and their families, helping to connect them with meaningful compensation for what they’ve been through. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, give the Blakeley Law Firm, P.A. a call at 800-602-5000. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.