When practicing personal injury law in Florida, we often come upon times when the traffic signals are damaged or broken. It would seem that everyone knows to use extra precautions during those times. You must slow down, you must give the right-of way to someone else in the intersection first. However, as my time in court has taught me, people don’t always do what they are supposed to.
Another problem that comes up is that at times, when a person loses their life in a crash, it is up to witnesses, nearby video cameras, and the scene to prove who was and wasn’t at fault for a crash.
When going through the news, I heard about a recent crash involving what may have been malfunctioning traffic signals in Temple Terrace, Florida. A young female driver was driving her Volkswagen Jetta on Fowler Avenue like any other normal day. She was going eastbound and trying to turn left onto Raintree Drive. It was during that moment when she was broadsided by a Honda Accord, according to Temple Terrace police officers and declared dead at the scene according to police Capt. Greg Pauley.
The young lady was a 30-year-old woman who died early Tuesday morning in a car crash that caused the Honda Accord that hit her to burst into flames that ultimately blocked Fowler Avenue for several hours.
The Honda Accord driver was John Feiga, 21. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital. His condition was listed as serious. Both vehicles were not recognizable in the aftermath of the crash. The Jetta that the young lady was driving, had ejected the engine due to the impact and lay on the ground nearby. What caused the crash is still being investigated.
According to police, the intersection had flashing yellow lights in both directions thus causing both cars to have been facing them simutaneously. The speed limit in the area on Fowler is 50 mph.
Meade may have just left work and was heading home before the crash occurred. According to people who knew her, she worked at Tally Ho Pub Bar and Grille on 56th Street, south of Temple Terrace.
The decedent’s stepfather said she had majored in business, marketing and dance at the University of South Florida in Tampa and was finishing her last week of work and was planning to move back to Coral Springs with he and her mother. “She was a great, fun-loving young woman,” he said. “She was the sunshine of everyone’s life.”
Records show that Feiga, who was driving the Honda Accord was driving west on Fowler at the time of the collision, has no traffic or criminal violations in Florida. While the decedent had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2002, and had other traffic violations including following too closely in 2007, police said that they did not think alcohol played any factor in Tuesday’s fiery crash.
While a jury can rely heavily on witnesses of this crash to determine fault, the sheer magnitude of the collision will probably lead most to believe that Mr. Feiga was at least partially to blame. It appears that he may have been speeding (by the sounds of the damage to the cars) and it also appears that the decedent was the first in the intersection. When dealing with blinking yellow lights, the first in the intersection has the right-of-way.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the decedent, and a reminder to all to take extra care when dealing with malfunctioning traffic signals.
July 13, 2011