Buck v. Lopez 250 So. 2d 6 (1971)
This side-swipe accident occurred in the City of Tampa between Joseph Lopez, the plaintiff, who as a result sustained injuries, and Austin Buck, the defendant, the operator of a semi-truck. This case came to the Florida Supreme Court on appeal from The Second District Court’s reversal of the jury verdict in favor of Buck, which found that Lopez was guilty of contributory negligence.
This side-swipe accident occurred when Lopez (plaintiff) and Buck (defendant) were both driving north on a 4 lane highway. Lopez was in the right lane when the accident occurred where he testified that immediately after releasing his break after being stopped at a red light, he was struck from the back as he was moving forward. The investigating officer testified that Lopez’s car was damaged on the left front, side and rear. Lopez’s car was 30-40 feet sought of the intersection where he claimed to be stopped at and the tractor truck was jutting in to right lane and damaged in the front right wheel. Buck testified that he was driving north in the center lane when he turned his right turn signal on, checked his rear view mirror, saw that there wasn’t anyone in the right hand lane and started to get over to turn at the intersection. Buck stated that as he eased in the right lane he didn’t know where Lopez came from but that he hit him with his semi-truck partially in the right lane. Further testimony indicated that the fender of the semi-truck has initially struck the front of Lopez’s car and that the damage to his car occurred in a side-swipe fashion (from the front to rear) contradicting Lopez’s testimony that he had been struck from behind.
The Florida Supreme Court reasoned that the conflicting testimony, the physical evidence that showed a side swipe away from the intersection and the fact that Buck did not see anyone behind him in the right lane just before he changed lanes allowed for the court to come to a reasonable conclusion that Lopez was right behind Buck. The court reasoned that from these facts, Buck had turned his signal on and started changing lanes when Lopez disregarded these warnings so that he could pass the defendants semi-truck before Buck could complete the lane change. Lopez was therefore guilty of contributory negligence (which in Florida has changed to comparative negligence) which barred Lopez from recovering damages.
Although, Florida no longer applies contributory negligence, this case has an important takeaway. The circumstances surrounding how your accident has occurred can either make or break your case no matter what you or your passenger may testify to, therefore careful, accurate documentation of your accident is vital in regards to you being compensated for the negligent acts of others.
If you have been involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, please contact the car accident attorneys of Madalon Law. We will gladly go over your case and answer your questions at no cost. Madalon Law is based out of Fort Lauderdale and handles accident cases throughout the state of Florida.