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Fatal Pedestrian Collision In Hillsborough County Raises Tough Legal Questions

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At first blush, fault seems clear when the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is a motorist and the victim is an 11-year-old middle school student who just disembarked from a school bus. But the initial assessment is not always the final word.

According to witnesses and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies, the Mann Middle School student had recently got off a school bus, but the bus had apparently already lifted its stop arm and turned off its red flashers. Brandon Heard Jr. then weaved through stopped traffic on northbound Orient Road near the 29th Street intersection. When Mr. Heard crossed over to the southbound side, where traffic was moving freely, 47-year-old Sabrina Ann Buster was unable to avoid hitting the boy, even though she quickly steered to the right.

Witnesses say that Mr. Heard ran through the stopped vehicles and into oncoming traffic.

Why Pedestrian-Auto Collisions Are Often Fatal

Whereas multiple restraint layers, not to mention a glass, steel, and hard plastic cocoon, protect Tampa vehicle occupants in collisions, pedestrians are completely exposed to danger. So, it is little wonder that impact speed has such a tremendous effect on pedestrian injuries.

In fact, the pedestrian serious injury rate is only about 25 percent if the tortfeasor is travelling slower than 23mph, but 90 percent if the Florida tortfeasor is travelling 46mph or faster. Some of these serious injuries include:

  • Head Injuries: The sudden violent movement by itself is often enough to cause a brain injury, much like it’s possible to scramble an egg just by shaking it in the shell. When pedestrian victims are thrown and land violently, as is nearly always the case, these injuries are obviously much worse.
  • Blood Loss: The head and other external trauma injuries trigger so much blood loss that, very often, victims are very close to hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders arrive on the scene.
  • Internal Injuries: The same violent shaking motion that causes head injuries also often causes internal organs to bump and grind against each other, causing serious injuries that are often difficult to diagnose and treat.

Due to the serious nature of these and other injuries, hospital bills in Tampa often eclipse $100,000 in these cases. Compensation is available for these medical bills and other economic losses, along with pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other noneconomic damages.

Some Common Defenses in Florida Pedestrian-Auto Collisions

Insurance company lawyers often raise the sudden emergency defense in Tampa pedestrian-auto collisions, but the defense is often inapplicable. The elements are:

  • Unexpected situation, like a hood fly-up, and a
  • Reasonable reaction to the sudden emergency.

However, in the above-described Tampa collision, the outcome might be different. By steering to the right, the tortfeasor certainly reacted reasonably. And, if the child truly darted out into traffic from between parked cars when there was no stationary school bus in sight, the situation may qualify as a “sudden emergency” under Florida law.

A persuasive, experienced trial attorney must convince the judge that the defense does not apply, or at least convince the jury that the tortfeasor was mostly responsible for the car accident.

Contact Experienced Tampa Bay Injury Lawyers

Car crash victims are often entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. An attorney can secure ongoing medical care for victims, even if they have no insurance or money.

Resource:

tbreporter.com/traffic/middle-school-student-11-dies-hillsborough-crash/

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