According to a recent news article from Mass Live, the owner of a Jeep Cherokee reported his car stolen. Four days after the stolen car report, the vehicle crashed into a tree in Springfield, Massachusetts. Four of the five occupants in the vehicle were killed. While the theft of the vehicle from the owner’s home in neighboring Connecticut was captured on the vehicle owner’s home security cameras, the police have not connected the alleged car thief to the victims of the crash, other than it being the same vehicle.
There was a fifth victim in the Massachusetts car accident who was not killed in the crash, but he was rushed to the hospital, and he was listed in critical condition by medical professionals. Authorities have said the victims were all 20 years of age or under. Three of them were students at the same high school. Authorities have also said the deadly car crash occurred in an area where the speed limit was 30 miles per hour. The vehicle was allegedly traveling at more than 60 miles per hour at the time of the crash.
As for the theft, the thieves allegedly approached the vehicle in the owner’s driveway and found that it was unlocked. Upon searching the vehicle, they located a key inside and drove away from the home. The accident occurred about an hour and a half from where the car was stolen, but, again, it should be noted that the police have not stated whether the victims in the car crash were the same people that stole the vehicle from the owner’s home a few days prior to the crash. It should be noted that there have not been any formal accusations that the driver of the Jeep was civilly liable or criminally guilty for the accident.
As our Boston car accident attorneys can explain, from time to time, accidents occur where the alleged at-fault driver is driving a stolen vehicle. In some cases, the driver is actually in the process of fleeing police following a car-jacking, and in other cases, it merely a stolen car being driven at the time of the serious car accident.
The reason this can complicate things is because it is very difficult to assign any blame to the lawful owner of a stolen car. Even if the owner was negligent in allowing his or her own car to be stolen, the eventual crash is generally considered a superseding intervening event. Under the law of negligence in Massachusetts, a superseding intervening event breaks the chain of causality, as it is not a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
In our legal system, there is a difference between what is known as actual causation in a negligence case and proximate causation. Actual causation means that the injury would not have occurred “but for” the first act of negligence or intentional conduct. Proximate cause deals with time, but more so with the issue of foreseeability.
If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
Owner of stolen Jeep involved in Springfield fatal crash: ‘They could keep the car forever if it would bring those lives back, January 26, 2017, By Phil Demers, Mass Live
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Report: Fall River Teen Killed in Car Crash on Way to Prom, June 26, 2016, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog