Spring Break Accidents and Injuries: Legal Complications


Spring Break Accidents and Injuries: Legal Complications

For students here in Indiana and Illinois, taking a trip to a warm, sunny climate over Spring Break is a wonderful vacation. In fact, for many kids in high school and college, going away for a Spring Break holiday is a tradition, right along with prom or graduation parties. (We’ve discussed this in more detail in our previous post on Tuesday.)

Dangers of Serious Accidents and Fatal Injuries During Spring Break Vacation

However, there is a great risk of injury and accident for Spring Breakers. All kinds of dangers face the students off on a Spring Break vacation, whether or not it’s here in the local area (Indiana and Illinois) or if they travel farther away, like Florida or Mexico (some of the most popular Spring Break destinations this year).

Consider some examples from our local area:

1. Swimming Accident. An Indiana University football player was seriously injured while enjoying his Spring Break in Florida back in March 2014. Isaac Griffith was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near Sarasota, Florida, when he was caught up in a rip current. Florida doctors had to put him into a medically-induced coma after the accident, and Griffith was in serious condition. He recovered from his injuries. The news reports did state that Griffith and his buddies had been consuming alcohol at the time.

2. Parasailing Accident. Two Indiana teenagers suffered permanent injuries when they lost control of their parasail during their Spring Break trip to Panama City, Florida, as their parasail was pulled away from its motorboat and then pushed by storm winds (31 mph) first into a hotel balcony and then some power lines, before dropping them down into the parking lot, where they slammed into some parked cars. Both have had to deal with traumatic brain injuries, and will face a lifetime of pain management and permanent disabilities. The settlement of their personal injury lawsuit was recently announced.

3. Pedestrian Accident. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville senior Joshua Thomas was seriously injured during his Spring Break trip to Panama City Beach, Florida, when he was hit by a car as he crossed a street on his way back to his hotel. He suffered a concussion and a broken leg, especially debilitating injuries given that Thomas was a star on his university’s track team and a honor student. Surgeries included placing a metal rod into Thomas’ leg to support his limb after the accident.

4. Head-On Car Crash. Four Indiana high school seniors, Alexx Bauer, Matthew Roe, Evan Weaver, and Riley Zimmer of Angola High, perished in an motor vehicle accident on an Alabama roadway as they were driving back home after their Spring Break holiday in Panama City, Florida. The four boys were hit by a mini-van that crossed over the highway median and slammed into their car; weather was considered to be a possible contributor to the fatal crash (there was a severe storm with hail, rain, and a possible tornado in the area).

Legal Protections for Spring Breakers Hurt in Spring Break Accidents

Under the state laws of Indiana and Illinois, there are protections in place for students who are seriously injured or suffer fatal wounds in a Spring Break accident. These are protections established both by statutes passed by the state lawmakers as well as by case law. Product liability laws, automobile accident cases, and negligence claims are among the legal avenues that can help the injury victim in these situations.

Of course, complications can arise in these cases because the accident’s location may have a bearing on the claims and the proper application of law in their case. There are the legal concerns of “jurisdiction” and “venue.

  • For instance, if the accident was in Panama City, Florida, then the personal injury laws of the State of Florida may apply even though the injured teenager or college student lives here, near the Great Lakes.
  • Additionally, Spring Breakers hurt while vacationing in Mexico may have to work through the complexities of Mexican law, both at its national and provincial levels.
  • Another complication: where does the injury victim file any lawsuit that may be needed, near their home here in Indiana or Illinois, or there — far away, where the accident took place?  Does the victim have to be inconvenienced by having to fight for justice in a forum so far away from home even while they are trying to deal with things like recovery from surgery or painful physical rehab?

The complexities of a Spring Break Injury Case do not mean that laws are not on the books to protect injury victims and their families in these situations. It does mean that it is very important for their long-term recovery and justice in their particular case that they have experienced legal counsel to assist them in dealing with these legal issues as soon as possible.

Claims may be made against insurance carriers for hotels, resorts, spas, bars, dance clubs, car makers, sporting equipment manufacturers, and others in order to help the victims get the financial resources needed to pay for long-term medical care, rehabilitation expenses, surgeries, and other consequences of their accident and injuries.

Wrongful death statutes may also come into play, allowing families to pursue claims against those who are responsible for the fatal accident that took away their loved one.

Spring Break accident victims can find justice — but let us all hope that this year, our 2016 Spring Breakers return to school without injury or harm.  Be careful out there!

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