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What is a Traffic Crash in Florida?

In traffic law, the term "crash" does not mean what many people think. Seemingly many people believe that a "crash" means that there is some degree of damage to vehicles. Some have even argued that at crash should equate to a significant amount of damage. Does a crash require damage? What then is a traffic crash?

The Courts have held that the term "crash" is interchangeable with the word "collision". In other words, there is impact with another vehicle, person, animal, or any object, even plants. Therefore, the answer to the common question of whether a person can be cited for a traffic crash with no damage is YES.

In one case a passenger was separated from a moving vehicle, hit the pavement, died and the driver left the scene. The vehicle never touched the decedent. The driver was accused of leaving the scene of a crash with a death. The Florida Supreme Court interpreted the meaning of the term "crash" to include the passenger hitting the ground. However, because the hit and run statute requires that the vehicle be involved in the crash, the conviction could not stand. Gaulden v. State, 195 So. 3d 1123 (Fla. 2016). Furthermore, the Court in that case specifically included plant life such as a tree as objects that could be collided with to equal a crash.

Once a person is formally accused, then any arguments or evidence pertaining to whether a crash occurred or how it happened must be presented to the court in a formal proceeding. No one can promise what another person or a judge will decide, and every case is different. For help presenting any type of traffic case, call or click.

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