Fatal Pedestrian Accident in Tampa
A woman is dead after she tried to walk across Interstate 75, and investigators believe that speed was to blame for the accident.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a woman was switching between vehicles which were parked on the shoulder. As she stepped into the traffic lane, a Hummer approaching at a high rate of speed hit and killed her. Despite the preliminary investigative findings, authorities say they do not intend to file charges in this case.
None of the names were released.
Excessive Velocity and Tampa Car Crashes
Speed increases the risk of a collision and transforms serious injuries into catastrophic injuries. Therefore, speed is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Tampa.
Speed multiplies stopping distance, or the distance a vehicle travels between the time the driver sees a hazard, applies the brakes, and safely stops the vehicle. At 30mph, stopping distance is about six car lengths. Stopping distance multiplies to about eighteen car lengths at 60mph.
Furthermore, speed multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. This fundamental law of physics is especially important in vehicle-pedestrian crashes. Pedestrians have no protection against oncoming vehicles, like multiple restraint systems or a steel cocoon. At impact speeds of less than 30mph, the pedestrian fatality rate is less than 10 percent. But at speeds of 40mph or faster, the pedestrian fatality rate catapults to over 90 percent.
Legally, victim/plaintiffs in speed-related collisions can typically use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish liability for damages.
If the tortfeasor exceeded the speed limit, Florida’s negligence per se rule may apply. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are presumptively liable for damages if:
- They violate non-penal safety laws, like speeding or making an illegal turn, and
- The violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s damages.
As a rule of thumb, this doctrine only applies in speeding cases if the tortfeasor was travelling at least 10mph above the speed limit.
Sometimes, speed is a factor even though the tortfeasor was not technically exceeding the speed limit. For example, if the sky is dark, the road is wet, or there are other adverse environmental conditions, drivers have a duty to slow down and adjust to these circumstances. But many times, they do not do so, and thus violate the duty of reasonable care.
Defenses in Florida Pedestrian Accident Claims
Contributory negligence is one of the most common defenses in these claims. This legal doctrine applies if both parties were partially at fault for the crash. For example, in many pedestrian accident claims, the victim was not paying attention to the road and the tortfeasor was somehow at fault as well, perhaps because s/he was speeding.
A Tampa personal injury attorney must convince the jury that the victim was careful. For example, the attorney could point out that the victim did not have a cell phone or other device at the time.
In Florida, the contributory negligence defense usually just reduces the amount of compensation the victim/plaintiff receives. But the sudden emergency defense may completely excuse liability. This rule applies if the tortfeasor:
- Reasonably reacted to
- A sudden emergency.
In vehicle-pedestrian crashes, the first element is usually present and the second one is usually absent. A jaywalking pedestrian, even on a highway at night, is usually not a “sudden emergency.” These situations, like large pot holes or stalled cars, are not entirely unforeseeable. So, the sudden emergency defense is usually inapplicable.
Contact Local, Experienced Lawyers
Car crash injuries cause significant physical, emotional, and financial pain. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.