Lakeland, FL — A young woman in a car was critically injured on Tuesday (December 3, 2013) after the driver was in an accident with a semi-truck in Lakeland on Saddle Creek Road. Police said that China Harris, 24, died on Wednesday at a local hospital, but the driver of her car fled the scene.
According to the Tampa Tribune, 23-year old Darrius “DJ” Austin was driving a car along Saddle Creek Road just before 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning with China Harris as a passenger. Police said that Austin crossed through Saddle Creek Road’s intersection with Fish Hatchery Road and was hit by a northbound semi-truck.
The accident critically injured Harris and Austin apparently fled the scene on foot.
After being taken to Lakeland Regional, Harris died on Wednesday and police were still searching for Austin at last update. It’s not clear who was at fault in the accident, but police said they’re still investigating the matter.
Scene of the Accident
Now, I wasn’t at the scene of the wreck, so I don’t want to imply that I know all the answers here. However, this fact pattern presents an unusual situation: Can an accident claim be mitigated by a criminal act, like fleeing the scene? Well, the answer is “yes” and “no.” It depends on whose claim we’re talking about. Consider a situation where Driver A hits Driver B and Driver A is at fault, but Driver B flees the scene. Because Drive B fled the scene, he may no longer have a claim against Driver A, even though he was at fault. But, on the other hand, a passenger in the car would obviously have no fault in the matter whatsoever. In that case, the passenger would still have a claim, even if the driver fled the scene. Generally speaking, intervening criminal acts will cut off liability, but many times, the passenger will have a claim regardless.
— Grossman Law Offices