Sandra Ricardo, 63, sadly died from injuries she sustained in a Tallahassee, Florida car accident. According to news reports, Ricardo and another female, Margarida F. Southard, 72, were passengers in a 2004 Nissan Altima driven by Patricia Frohe, 66. Southard and Frohe both sustained serious injuries and are being treated at local hospitals.
News sources indicate that the car accident was caused when 17 year old Brittany Alford turned into the path of Frohe's Altima. Specifically, the media reports that Alford was driving a 2007 Jeep Liberty in the southbound lanes of U.S. 331 when she made a left turn onto S.R. 20.
As a Florida personal injury lawyer, I pay attention to car accidents reported in the news. In many cases, car accidents simply cannot be prevented. It is a simple fact of life that accidents will happen by virtue of nothing more than having thousands of moving parts on our roadways... eventually the parts collide and people get hurt.
However, I personally feel that Florida's driving laws are far too liberal when it comes to teenage drivers.
Lets face it, the issuance of a Florida drivers license has nothing to do with one's maturity or ability to operate a car safely.
While I do not have a problem with teenagers and driving, I believe that we have to do a better job at teaching responsible driving. Teens should be required to take a real class that teaches them the importance of responsible decision making when behind the wheel of a car.
When teens cause accidents, there are recurring reasons. Speeding, failing to yield, failure to accurate assess speeds of other vehicles, aggressiveness, racing, and a few others.
When it comes to Sandra Ricardos' death, I strongly suspect that the accident was caused by a teenager who didn't know what she was doing. She probably made that turn too soon due to her inexperience.
Adequate training could have reduced the likelihood of an accident like this one from happening.
Unfortunately, under the laws currently in force in Florida, a teenager can get a license after passing a written test, a rudimentary driving exam, and a brief class on substance abuse.
They aren't taught how to drive. They aren't taught when it is safe to turn or enter an intersection. They aren't taught defensive driving. Mature decision making is not emphasized.
Lives would be saved, injuries avoided, property protected, and money saved if we invested in properly educating our youth. Instead, they are left to learn from experience.
The way different families deal with the loss of a loved one to a traffic fatality vary from family to family. For those interested in hiring a car accident lawyer to seek compensation in the courts, three basic facts must be established to present a successful claim:
1) Proof of liability
2) Proof of injury
In this case, it seems pretty clear that the first two aspects are easily established. First, this accident was caused when Brittany Alford drove into the path of Patricia Frohe's Altima. Second, Sandra Ricardo was killed while Patricia Frohe and Margarida Southard were seriously injured.
As a result, I suspect that the success or failure of a claim made by the victims in this case will hinge on Alford's ability to pay compensation... whether from her insurance company, her parents' insurance company, or personal assets.
The fact of the matter is that the injured people now have serious medical needs and these needs cost money. The living may be left with permanent and painful disabilities. Not to mention, one person lost her life!
When such injuries and loss of life are caused, Florida law is pretty clear that the liable parties are obligated to compensate the victims.
That said, I also want to emphasize that the 17 year old girl who caused this accident probably feels terrible about what happened. Like other people who cause traffic fatalities, I am sure she did not leave her house that day intending to harm or kill anyone. Instead, I am sure this is simply an awful freak accident caused by her inexperience as a driver and NOT because she is a bad person.
In fact, I really sympethize with her. I am sure this has been a very traumatic experience.
First and foremost, my condolences go out to Sandra Ricardo's family for their loss. Second, I hope Patricia Frohe and Margarida Southard both have a speedy recovery and return to normal as soon as possible.
Second, I would emphasize that the public needs to increase its awareness and speak with a louder voice when it comes to teenage drivers. In a state with some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, it makes no sense to me that we put only a negligible effort in licensing safe drivers.
It simply makes no sense.
If anything positive is to come out of this case, I hope it is increased concern about the danger posed by inexperienced teenage drivers.