A mother and two of her six young children, ages 5 and 8, were killed recently in a car accident on I-75 in Pembroke Pines.
Of the other children – girls ages 2 and 4 and boys ages 6 and 9 – only the 2-year-old was strapped in to a car seat. Neither the 30-year-old mother nor the 25-year-old driver, father of the 2-year-old, were buckled in. Each of the children were transported to a Hollywood hospital in serious condition. The driver was reported to be in critical condition. All are from Plantation.
Authorities were attempting to sift through the cause of the accident, which occurred around 10:15 p.m. All they know is that for unknown reasons, the driver lost control in the construction zone of the median.
The vehicle, a 2001 Buick LeSabre, was traveling on I-75 north when it overturned several times and ejected the occupants. It’s unknown how fast the vehicle was going, but the speed limit on the highway is 70 mph.
Whether seat belts may have saved those who died or prevented more serious injury to those who survived this horrific Florida car accident is unknown without an accident reconstruction, but we do know that not only do seat belts save lives, they are mandated by law.
F.S. 316.614 holds that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in Florida unless each passenger and the operator under 18 are restrained by a safety belt or child restraint device, pursuant to F.S. 316.613. It is unlawful for anyone over 18 to go without a seat belt while seated in the front of a vehicle in motion. Violation of F.S. 316.614 is a non-moving violation. However, not following the child safety restraint law will result in a fine of $60 and three points on your license. Or, as this case shows, the loss could be far more profound.
Although this is an important reminder that your child should be buckled up every time – no matter what – it’s especially poignant as we approach the summer. Children are likely to spend more daylight hours in cars during the summer, ferried to various activities or taking road trips for family vacations. In Florida especially, we have many out-of-state visitors, and state laws on child safety restraints can vary.
As of Jan. 1, 2015, Florida law mandates children under the age of 5 be properly restrained no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle. Children under 4 have to be secured in a separate carrier or in a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat. Children who are between the ages of 4 and 5 can sit either in a separate carrier or they can use a safety belt. However, if the seat belt doesn’t fit them properly, they will need a booster seat.
Children who are between 40 and 80 pounds should be using a booster seat.
Child safety seats should always be placed in the rear of the vehicle.
Babies must ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the age of 1 and weigh at least 20 pounds.
It’s unclear at this point whether the driver of the vehicle will face any criminal charges. Recovery of damages for the surviving children in this case may be difficult beyond whatever insurance the driver had, unless it is shown there was some type of mechanical failure of the vehicle. However, Florida does allow the so-called “seat belt defense,” in which defendants liable for car accidents may assert they should pay lesser damages because the harm would have been significantly reduced had plaintiff been wearing a seat belt.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Authorities identify mom, 2 kids killed in I-75 rollover that injured 6, April 27, 2016, By Tonya Alanez, The Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Grimes v. Family Dollar Stores of Florida – Parking Lot Trip-and-Fall Lawsuit, May 16, 2016, Pembroke Pines Car Accident Lawyer Blog