The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the number of “delayed fatalities” resulting from automobile accidents has increased in 2011. These incidents, which often seem minor, can leave those responsible for the accident free from the potentially stiff penalty that is appropriate to the crime.

Delayed fatalities are incidents where a car accident victim does not exhibit serious injuries immediately after an accident but succumbs to them later.  Florida Today reports that of the 33 fatal accidents investigated by the Brevard County Florida Highway Patrol so far this year, 10 of them were identified as delayed fatalities.  In all of last year, there were only seven reported delayed fatalities in the county.

The article states that Florida accident law prevents police agencies from conducting thorough investigations in accidents where no injuries are reported or the crash is determined to be minor.  The law enforcement agencies say Florida law prevents them from performing toxicology tests on the at-fault driver or from forcibly drawing blood when injuries are not deemed serious.

If an accident victim later dies, and the at-fault motorist has already been ticketed for an offense, double-jeopardy rules could prevent police from filing criminal charges later.

The article cites the case where a Ford pickup slammed into a stopped SUV, leaving the driver with just minor shoulder pain at the accident.  Since then, she has had to endure multiple surgeries and suffers from a herniated disc. The pickup driver was ticketed $169, and the driver did not undergo any toxicology tests and was released.

Four months later, the same pickup caused a six-car pileup, with seven people suffering minor injuries.  The same driver was again released without any toxicology testing, although he was charged with driving under the influence of prescription medication.  One of the victims later died of her injuries.  Without the toxicology tests, it is extremely difficult to prove impairment in a courtroom.

At the law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, their experienced car accident attorneys know that immediately after a car accident, passengers and drivers are often emotionally stressed and are not fully aware of physical symptoms.

“You never plan on being harmed by another, but when it occurs, you need to take immediate action,” says DeBerard, who has secured more than $125 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients over the course of more than three decades as a Florida trial lawyer.

Even if you don’t believe you have any injuries, or if you are just stiff or sore, you should seek immediate medical attention at the emergency room or from your family doctor, to rule out any injuries or get treatment as appropriate.  It is important that you seek medical help immediately to prevent the injuries from becoming worse. 

It is also important to contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney to evaluate your accident and discuss your legal options.  The sooner a car accident attorney starts investigating your case, the more likely it is that he can preserve valuable evidence that helps to build a compelling case.

If you were injured, or a family member died, in an automobile accident or collision caused by another motorist, you may have a legal right to seek compensation for your injuries.

For help with your Florida car accident claim, trust the law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney. We serve victims of automobile crashes and bus accidents in South Florida and the Treasure Coast, including in StuartPort St. LucieFort PierceJupiterOkeechobeePalm Beach and Vero Beach.

Call (800) 299-8878 now to speak with a compassionate Florida injury and accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.