Head-on accident claims life of well-respected Northwest Florida basketball coach

A recent head-on collision caused serious injuries and one fatality; authorities are investigating why the wrong-way driver left his side of the road.

Law enforcement authorities in the Panhandle of Florida are investigating the cause of a fatal head-on collision that occurred near Northwest Florida Regional Airport. The highway crash injured three people, and took the life of one driver, Patrick Harrington, the women's basketball coach at Northwestern Florida State College, who succumbed to his injuries, according to WJHG News. Authorities have not determined why the other driver crossed three lanes of traffic and the median before striking the victim's vehicle.

Devastating injuries

The collision caused extensive damage to both vehicles. Emergency responders were only able to remove both drivers after cutting them free from their cars, according to Northwest Florida Daily News. Both drivers then had to be airlifted to hospitals due to the severity of their injuries.

The wrong-way vehicle driver's condition was reported as serious following the collision. The basketball coach suffered injuries that required surgical treatment the same day as the accident. The collision also fractured the ribs and vertebra of the coach's passenger. Sadly, the coach never improved from critical condition, and he passed away six days after the accident, according to WHJG News. Our community is still trying to cope with this tragic loss.

Authorities do not think the wrong-way driver was intoxicated at the time of the collision. However, they are still investigating the accident.

Driver negligence

When accidents like this occur, victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. If an accident results in loss of life, the victim's surviving family members may also be entitled to compensation for the wrongful death. However, the other driver's role in the injurious or fatal car crash must meet certain standards. Victims seeking compensation would need to prove the following things:

  • The driver owed a duty of care to the victims. It is typically assumed that every driver owes a duty of care to all other road users.
  • The driver breached the duty in a way that could have been expected to harm others. Impaired and distracted driving are examples of behaviors that violate a reasonable duty of care.
  • The driver's actions directly resulted in the injury or death. Victims must show that other factors, such as road conditions or vehicle issues, were not the primary causes of the accident.
  • The victim suffered verifiable harm. The victim's injuries must be established through medical evidence.

If all of these criteria are met, a negligent driver may be held liable for financial expenses and permanent losses resulting from a car accident. It is important to remember that the applicable Statute of Limitations is different for claims involving general negligence as opposed to wrongful death.

Accidents in Florida

Statistics suggest that many Floridians may experience serious accidents this year. In 2012, an average of 770 car crashes occurred every day in the state, according to

the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Over the entire year, 468,470 drivers were involved in car accidents, and 2,430 lives were lost. Many of these unfortunate tragedies are completely avoidable.

Anyone who has been involved in a severe accident or lost a loved one due to another person's actions should consider meeting with a personal injury attorney to discuss seeking compensation.

Keywords: car, accident, injury, wrongful death