Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Tampa Pedestrian
Investigators are looking for the driver of a Chevrolet Trailblazer who fatally struck a woman as she tried to cross a road.
Few details were available, except that the Trailblazer’s driver sped away from the scene after striking the woman. 40-year-old Chanda Grant, of Tampa, was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she later died.
Legal Options in Hit-and-Run Cases
Statistics vary by jurisdiction, but generally, hit-and-run drivers are rarely prosecuted in criminal court. The burden of proof is simply too high. Prosecutors must establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. So, unless the tortfeasor (negligent driver) confessed or s/he was apprehended near the scene, there is seldom enough evidence.
Civil court, however, is different. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). As a result, identifying the vehicle is usually enough. It’s more likely than not that the owner of a vehicle was also the driver at any given time.
Nevertheless, a Tampa personal injury attorney must have substantial evidence in hit-and-run claims. The evidence that first responders gather at the scene, like a witness’ glimpse of the tortfeasor’s vehicle, is usually insufficient. Additional evidence includes:
- Additional Witness Statements: For various reasons, many people do not loiter at accident scenes and talk to police officers. But these individuals will talk to injury attorneys when approached.
- Video Evidence: Security cameras and red-light cameras are almost everywhere. Chances are, a camera a few blocks from the scene probably caught part of the tortfeasor’s license plate number. That seed of evidence is usually enough to start with.
- Inquiring at Auto Body Shops: Hit-and-run drivers will probably not take their damaged cars to Service King. But, whoever works on the vehicle must get the parts from somewhere. Attorneys have the patience and connections to follow these trails which ultimately lead to the tortfeasor.
Even the most diligent attorney cannot identify every hit-and-run tortfeasor. But that’s okay, because victims usually still have legal options in these situations.
Typically, these victims can file claims against their own insurance companies. Since attorneys are usually good negotiators, these claims often settle quickly and on victim-friendly terms. If the two sides cannot resolve the dispute, it probably goes to arbitration instead of trial.
Speed and Pedestrian Fatalities
Many fatal hit-and-run incidents involve pedestrians, and speed is the critical element in these accidents. If the tortfeasor is travelling 20mph or slower, the pedestrian death rate is less than 10 percent. The fatality rate skyrockets to 90 percent if the tortfeasor is travelling faster than 40mph.
Speed multiplies the force in a collision between two objects, according to Newton’s Second Law of Motion. That’s largely why excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Florida.
Pedestrians have no protection whatsoever from oncoming cars. Vehicle occupants have multiple restraint layers and steel cages, but pedestrians almost literally only have the clothes on their backs.
Damages in a hit-and-run claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available as well. Many Hillsborough County jurors hate hit-and-run drivers, and they want to punish them.
Connect with Experienced Lawyers
Hit-and-run drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.