Several Orlando media outlets are reporting about a fatal crash that occurred on State Road 436 (Semoran Blvd.) in Winter Park.  According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a pickup truck driven by 54-year old Anthony Robinson was traveling northbound on 436 when it abruptly attempted to complete a left-hand turn across the southbound lanes of 436.

Unfortunately, there was traffic in the lanes of southbound 436.  The pickup truck first crashed into the rear driver’s side door of a Hyundai.  An 18-year old woman from Winter Park was sitting in the rear seats on the driver’s side and was tragically killed by the impact.  Three other occupants of the Hyundai — all young adults – were taken by ambulance with injuries.

One local television station made a point to report that the young woman who had been the victim of the wrongful death was not wearing a seatbelt (more on that later).

Meanwhile, after the impact with the Hyundai, the pickup truck careened into a Nissan Altima.  The 76-year old driver of the Altima and the pickup truck driver, Mr. Robinson, were also both taken to local hospitals with injuries.  The Florida Highway Patrol reported that speed was a factor in the crash, but that no charges had been filed.

My heart goes out to the family of the young woman who lost her life in this motor vehicle accident.  As an Orlando personal injury attorney, and father of four children, I can truly empathize with this family.

I wondered why the television station felt it necessary to report about the seat belt at all.  Whether it is true or not, it seems kind of callus to me.  It seems to imply that this young lady somehow did something wrong (and therefore is somehow responsible for what happened to her.)  First, it should be noted that Florida law does not require backseat passengers to wear seatbelts.  Second, in order for an accident victim’s seat belt non-use to be relevant, there must be proof that the failure to wear a seat belt somehow contributed to causing injuries or death.  Since this young woman was sitting in the seat where the front of the pickup truck crashed into the Hyundai, it is doubtful that a seat belt would have made any difference.

What do you think?

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