An entire community is reeling this week as news spreads about a Tampa Bay car accident that took the life of an area couple and severely injured their young granddaughter. High school teacher Nancy Farnsworth and her husband Webster were killed Friday after a passed out driver ran a red a red light and slammed into the side of their minivan. The couple’s granddaughter, Kaylee Farnsworth, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Fortunately, medical experts expect the young child to survive. WTSP News followed up on previous reports of the fatal Tampa Bay car crash yesterday, as new information is coming to light about exactly what caused the accident.
According to reports, the couple and the child were returning from the Clearwater area after a celebration held in honor of the upcoming arrival of another grandchild, Kaylee’s sibling. They were traveling through the intersection of Hillsborough and Habana Avenues when their vehicle was struck on the side by a 2010 Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by Eric McNeil. Mr. McNeil reportedly lost consciousness when he was behind the wheel, causing him to run the red light, hit the minivan, and strike two traffic lights before leaving the road. The pickup went airborne after hitting the minivan, ultimately landing on another vehicle occupied by six people. Those other passengers were injured as well, though none of those injuries were life-threatening.
Any potential Tampa Bay car accident lawsuit filed in response to this incident would involve a myriad of issues. Car accident lawsuits usually involve claims of negligence by the victims (or their families) against the driver who caused the crash. Negligence law requires that the victim show that the defendant owed a duty of care and that the duty was breached causing injury. Running a red light and hitting a fellow traveler is usually a clear breach of an owed duty of care. However, in this case, the defendant may claim that he did not breach the duty because he was unconscious at the time of the breach as a result of an unexpected medical condition.
This presents another issue, because it will likely need to be determined whether the man’s medical event was completely unanticipated or whether his passing out should have been expected and guarded against. In this case, reporters have uncovered that driver of the pickup truck had previously been involved in an accident where he unexpectedly blacked out. In 2007, the man rear-ended a vehicle that was stopped at a red light. Following that incident, McNeil has his license revoked. However, the license was reinstated late last year by the state’s Medical Advisory Board. The Board did not require McNeil to have any follow up visits to confirm his fitness to drive.
Local official are still investigating this accident to determine exactly what happened. There are many legal complexities involved in all auto accident cases, and this situation appears to include a particularly wide range of issues. All those involved in the crash should be sure to visit with a Tampa Bay car accident attorney so that their legal rights will be protected.
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