West Palm Beach Woman Causes Multiple Car Accidents in Broward County

March 26, 2009
Michele Fevola of West Palm Beach was involved in four separate auto accidents while traveling south on I-95 in Broward County, Florida on March 23, 2009.  The first accident involved a rear end collision with Antonio Diehs of Miami, the second was a collision with Jessica Craft of Plantation, the third impact caused Marisal Montellano of Davie to lose control of her vehicle and overturn, and the fourth was a collision with Joseph Aufsesser of Connecticut after Fevola lost control of her vehicle in Fort Lauderdale.  All four auto accidents occurred in distinct locations throughout Broward County, and the third accident with Marisal Montellano caused serious bodily injury.  Charges are currently being reviewed pending a toxicology report, but it is suspected that alcohol may have been involved according to reports.

Although this accident is tragic and unfortunate, it does pose interesting legal issues in both the criminal and civil arenas.  Although any comment on the Fevola case would be mere speculation, the circumstances can be used to discuss the theoretical avenues for prosecution and litigation.  In Florida to be criminally guilty of the charge of DUI, a person must be found beyond a reasonable doubt to have been driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle under the influence of a alcoholic beverage, chemical substance, or controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired or with a blood/breath alcohol level of 0.08.  In a civil case for damages caused by an auto accident, punitive damages can often be sought against a person driving while intoxicated separate and apart from normally recoverable damages if intoxication is shown by clear and convincing evidence.

Also available in instances where a driver fails to remain at the site of a crash is the charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident (LSA).  Florida statute provides that people involved in an auto accident that results in damage to a vehicle or property or injury to a person must at least remain on the scene and provide certain information as required by law.  Restitution under the criminal statute of LSA becomes problematic, however, because it has been argued that any damage or injury does not stem from the act of leaving the scene but rather from the accident itself.  Therefore, judges cannot order restitution sua sponte.  However, restitution has been effectively pursued under LSA by plea agreements between the State and defense in exchange for a more favorable sentencing recommendation.  This plea agreement can then be blessed by the Court and restitution ordered.
   
Auto accident cases are often complex legal matters--especially those involving an intoxicated driver.  It is important for people involved in an accident in South Florida to contact an attorney to ensure their rights are protected and that all legal considerations are covered concerning their individual facts.  While nothing can take away the trauma of an auto accident, it may be possible to be compensated for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Gabriel Mejia is a personal injury attorney handling accident and injury cases in Florida for Law Offices Cytryn and Velazquez, P.A.

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