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11th Victim Found in FL Highway Crash Wreckage

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Investigators recovered the body of an 11th victim from the wreckage of a massive chain-reaction Florida highway crash. Lawsuits are likely to follow.

The body of the victim, who was not identified, was pulled Tuesday from a truck that got caught in a series of crashes on Interstate 75, CNN reports. Thick smoke from a brush fire blew across I-75 near Gainesville early Sunday, and drivers were blinded.

At least 12 cars, six tractor-trailers, and a motor home were involved in the crashes, Fox News reports. Some survivors and victims' relatives are blaming state troopers for the accidents, and perhaps even a possible arsonist.

It's not yet clear what sparked the brush fire that caused the Florida highway crash, and arson has not been ruled out. If the fire was intentionally set, the arsonist could face manslaughter and even felony murder charges, legal experts told Fox News.

Felony murder occurs when a death results from a perpetrator's participation in a felony, such as arson.

But survivors are also pointing fingers at the Florida Highway Patrol. Troopers had closed I-75 for three hours because of dangerously low visibility Sunday, but reopened the highway about 3:30 a.m., a Highway Patrol spokesman told Fox News.

About 15 minutes later, the deadly crashes began.

Survivors and victims' relatives may be considering civil lawsuits against the state in the wake of the Florida highway crashes. If so, they'll need to consider Florida's laws about suing state troopers.

Like many states, Florida law limits the government's liability in tort actions. For example, a Florida state agency can only pay damage awards of up to $200,000 or $300,000, depending on the circumstances; any awards in excess must be approved by the Legislature.

Further, a Florida state trooper cannot be held personally liable for tort actions on the job, unless the trooper acted maliciously or in bad faith, the statute says. Timing is also a factor: Wrongful death claims, for example, must be filed within two years.

Those affected by the deadly Florida highway crash may want to consult a local attorney to ensure their rights are protected as the investigation continues.

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