Gennusa, Piacun, & Ruli

Admiralty / Maritime Law

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5 Louisiana kids killed in fiery Florida highway crash

In any collision where lives are lost, people have an instinct to want to assign blame to one person or problem. However, sometimes, as in the case of a recent accident where five Louisiana children lost their lives, assigning blame is not so easy.

On Thursday, Jan. 3, on Interstate 75 just South of Alachua, Florida, a severe accident claimed the lives of the five children, who were on a church trip to Walt Disney World. It was a tragic accident resulting from a complex chain of events which could make any litigation for the families an exceedingly intricate matter.

Piecing it all together

The accident started when a head-on collision between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle in the northbound lanes crashed through the guardrail, and into the van containing the church group and another semi. A third passenger vehicle unable to avoid the collision then crashed into the pile-up.

It's quite likely that it will take some time for authorities to fully investigate the accident due to its complexity. However, we do know that both semi-truck drivers reportedly accrued violations in the years prior to the crash. The driver of the big rig involved in the initial collision alone had racked up violations and tickets in multiple states for:

  • Speeding
  • No proof of insurance
  • Driving an overloaded vehicle
  • Driving an unsafe vehicle

Also, according to the spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation, the agency is checking whether the interstate guardrail was insufficient to contain the fallout from the first northbound accident or whether the collision was too intense.

A difficult path forward

Between the multiple vehicles involved and the possibility of insufficient roadside barriers, it will difficult to sort out ultimate liability. In these situations, courts often resort to a concept called shared liability which is a complex area of the law. The ultimate resolution for these families — their closure — may only come after they take legal action.

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