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Family of Teen Killed in Drunken UTV Crash Sues Deer Camp Owners, Teen Driver

The family of a 16-year-old aspiring model in Texas has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against adult property owners of a deer camp and a group of teens.

According to news reports, the girl was killed in late July after being ejected from a utility task vehicle (UTV) during a 3 a.m. ride on the property. Authorities said the teens were consuming alcohol throughout the day and playing drinking games. They had been out riding earlier, and someone suggested they go out again in the middle of the night.

The operator of the UTV in which decedent was riding made a sharp turn at a fork in the road. This caused the vehicle to slide and roll, smacking the edge of a dirt road and pitching right. Decedent was ejected 20 feet from the vehicle, striking her head and body on the ground.

She suffered a traumatic brain injury. Her friends located her and returned to the deer camp, where they contacted a neighbor and called 911 for assistance by paramedics. Decedent ultimately died of her injuries.

Decedent’s family alleges in the lawsuit that there were several parties at fault here.

First, they assert the property owners were liable because the condition of the premises created an unreasonable risk of harm because the grading of the roadway was dangerous, particularly for UTVs. They further allege the owners of the property failed to ensure the vehicle they were operating was entrusted to a driver who was competent.

Also named as a defendant is the friend who supplied the alcohol to his minor friends and encouraged them to drink, thus creating a situation that was unreasonably dangerous. An older adult, in whose name the property was rented, is accused of failing to adequately supervise minors entrusted to his care, while another is accused of encouraging excessive use of alcohol. Several of those involved are also accused of failure to properly render first aid and assistance.

The family is seeking damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral expenses, mental anguish and loss of consortium.

News reports were initially that the teen girl was driving the UTV, but the lawsuit indicates that was not the case. The girl, who had just received an invitation by a California modeling agency for an audition, reportedly “never left the driveway without a seat belt on,” according to her mother.

The girl tweeted in the hours before the crash about the group having 160 beers to share.

In Florida – as in Texas – it is illegal for minors to consume alcohol. Those who supply alcohol to minors face not only criminal charges, but civil liability as well.

As our Palm Beach injury attorneys can explain, F.S. 768.125 is known as the “dram shop law.” It states that an establishment that sells or furnishes alcohol to a person of lawful drinking age won’t be liable for injury or damage resulting from that person’s intoxication. However, there is an exception when a person or establishment willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcohol to someone who is either under the age of 21 or who is known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Jefferson County woman says deer camp negligent in daughter’s death, Nov. 18, 2015, By Robbie Hargett,

More Blog Entries:

Estate of Gagnon v. Anthony – Comparative Fault in Personal Injury Lawsuits, Nov. 19, 2015, Palm Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer Blog

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