A woman traveling 111 mph was arrested on April 25, 2021, after a fatal Tampa crash on I-4 in Hillsborough County. According to authorities, Jennifer Carvajal was clocked going over at least 3 times the speed limit and never slowed down.
Florida Highway Patrol pursued in a high-speed chase around 1:40 Sunday morning. When the trooper tried to overtake Carvajal, she made a hard right turn that sent her Hyundai Elantra into the shoulder. The vehicle went down an embankment before becoming airborne and going over a fence. It then crashed into a car dealership.
The Elantra overturned several times, and ejected 2 passengers from the back seat and threw the front passenger to the back of the car. All 3 suffered severe injuries and 1 person was killed. Carvajal suffered minor injuries and was the only one wearing a seatbelt.
Criminal charges have been filed against Carvajal for reckless driving, DUI, DUI with property damage, driving without a driver’s license and violation of probation for DUI manslaughter.
Speeding is a common cause of fatal accidents
One of the biggest hazards for Tampa drivers is speeding. Generally, Florida speeding laws require drivers to adhere to 20 to 30 mph in residence districts or business districts. On most other roads, drivers must adhere to 55 mph. Highways that are part of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways go all the way up to 70 mph.
Florida statute 316.183 states:
“No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.”
Carvajal was driving at least 46 mph over the speed limit. Most states penalize drivers based on a tier of how many miles they were going over the speed limit. In Florida, if a driver is going 29 miles over the limit, this can result in a ticket. If they’re going 50 miles over the limit, this can result in a felony conviction.
Wrongful death claim after a fatal accident
Carvajal previously served time for an arrest in 2014. After running a red light and killing another driver in Plant City, she was arrested for DUI manslaughter and driving without a valid license. She was 16 at the time.
Her prior record can make it more likely that the family of the person who died can sue her for wrongful death damages. In addition to compensatory damages, the family who lost their loved one may be awarded separate punitive damages by a judge.
In Florida, “an award of punitive damages may not exceed the greater of: 3 times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to each claimant entitled thereto, consistent with the remaining provisions of this section; OR the sum of $500,000.”