A South Beach community is reeling after an incident involving an elderly woman who drove her vehicle into a popular outdoor café, killing one man and injuring six others. Miami’s Local 10 News reported on the accident, which occurred during the busy evening hours when the restaurant was packed with diners enjoying their meal on the terrace. Witnesses believe the woman was attempting to parallel park her Bentley when she mistook the “Park” pedal and put the car in reverse. As a result of her confusion, the woman plowed through an embankment, over the curb, and into the outdoor dining space.
The woman is not facing criminal charges, but victims and their families may already be considering legal action through Miami personal injury lawsuits. As the investigation into the deadly accident continues, some of the details are raising more questions than answers.
What liability concepts apply? There are two possible personal injury claims that victims and their families might consider pursuing, as the incident encompasses both premises liability and motor vehicle accident concepts. However, the basis for liability is the same: These accidents happen because of negligence, so victims must prove that the incident occurred because a party failed to exercise reasonable care.
Who can victims pursue as potential parties? The woman driving the Bentley is an obvious defendant in the accident: She clearly failed to exercise reasonable care when shifting to parallel park. Premises liability is a theory of liability that focuses on negligence by property owners. If the outdoor café owner failed to take reasonable measures to protect guests from foreseeable hazards, the restaurant could be accountable.
Do victims have claims for reckless or aggressive driving? Negligence is the most common theory of liability in accident claims, but victims might have grounds to pursue a case based upon reckless or aggressive driving. To prove such a case, they will need evidence that the woman operated the vehicle with willful, wanton disregard of the safety of others. If successful, the families may be able to recover punitive damages – in addition to amounts for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What about evidence of drunk driving? Local 10 reports that the at-fault driver had been charged with DUI in 2015, raising the possibility that she was driving under the influence once again. Currently, there are no charges pending and no information related to whether she was even tested by police. There are other possible sources of evidence, and one of the most important will be any credit card transactions or receipts.
Our Miami Personal Injury Attorneys Pursue All Available Remedies
Some of the factual questions may be answered in short order as the facts surrounding the fatal accident emerge, but you should trust a skilled lawyer to provide information on the legal issues. To learn more about victims’ options in personal injury cases, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. You can schedule a no-cost consultation by calling (305) 371-6000 or visiting us online.