As a personal injury attorney, you see a lot of what can change in an instant. Again and again, every crash gets categorized into the framework of liability and damages.
Last week, news reports indicated that Alicia Dawn Shaheed, 18, of Morgantown, WV, was killed and three others were airlifted to Tampa General Hospital in a crash that happened just before 10 p.m. Wednesday evening. According to officers, five teenagers were in a Toyota Solara that exited I-4 and were trying to turn left at Columbus Drive. A Mazda being driven by Randolph W. De Sylvia, 19, of Tampa, smashed into the Toyota, rolling it into a ditch across the road. De Sylvia sustained minor injuries. According to officers, the 19 year old De Sylvia, the driver of the Mazda, did not have a drivers license.
In a situation like this, where numerous youngsters lives are turned upside down, it begs a common question; what is my exposure when I loan my car to my child?
In Florida, a car is considered a dangerous instrumentality. Similar to a gun. If you lend it to another person, and that person negligently injures people, you are automatically (vicariously) liable for all the damages caused, past, present and future.
In this crash, one of the victims, Dawn Shaheed, was riding in the back of the Toyota and died at the scene. The other passengers in the backseat of the Toyota, Kalima Haneef, 20, of St. Petersburg, and Shontae Shaheed, 19, of Morganton, WV, were taken to Tampa General Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Solara, Chaz Yount, 20, of Tampa, did not sustain injuries. Yount was apparently driving with just a learner’s permit.
The front seat passenger in the Toyota, Naquan Yancey, 17, of Tampa, sustained life threatening injuries and was transported to Tampa General Hospital, as well.
As of Thursday afternoon, Kalima Haneef and Shontae Shaheed were in fair condition. Naquan Yancey was in critical condition.
The westbound lanes of E. Columbus Drive at the exit ramp from Interstate 4 to Columbus were closed for hours as crews responded to the crash. Officials said the crash still remains under investigation.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group.1 In 2009, eight teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.
Who is most at risk?
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-old’s than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.
Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:
Males: In 2006, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 15 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.
Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.
How can deaths and injuries resulting from crashes involving teen drivers be prevented?
There are proven methods to helping teens become safer drivers. Research suggests that the most comprehensive graduated drivers licensing (GDL) programs are associated with reductions of 38% and 40% in fatal and injury crashes, respectively, among 16-year-old drivers.
Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems are designed to delay full licensure while allowing teens to get their initial driving experience under low-risk conditions.
When parents know their state’s GDL laws, they can help enforce the laws and, in effect, help keep their teen drivers safe.
Herman & Wells, P.A. handles automobile collision related personal injury lawsuits for the injured and their families in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and surrounding areas of Florida.