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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Negligent Driver Hits and Kills Pedestrian in Tampa


A wheelchair-bound man is dead after a speeding car struck him on Dale Mabry Highway near West Waters.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers state that a 66-year-old man was crossing Waters Avenue when a 64-year-old woman, who was driving a Prius, struck him in the intersection. The driver had the green light, according to the report. First responders rushed the man to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

None of the names were released.

What Causes Pedestrian “Accidents”?

In our culture, words have meaning. So, Tampa car accident attorneys should avoid using words like “accident” in front of a jury. The a-word implies that the incident was unavoidable and could not be prevented. But in reality, calling a car crash an “accident” deflects blame.

In the 1970s, drunk drivers who killed pedestrians used to say “it was an accident.” People accidentally lose their car keys. They do not accidentally get drunk, run red lights, and kill people.

As for causation, excessive speed is a factor in about a third of all fatal collisions in Florida. This factor may be even more pronounced in pedestrian injury claims.

Speed increases the force in a collision between two objects. At impact speeds of 20mph or less, the pedestrian death rate is less than 10 percent. At 40mph, the death rate catapults to 90 percent. Since most pedestrian strikes occur outside marked crosswalks and far from intersections, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is almost always travelling faster than 40mph.

Moreover, speed reduces reaction time. The faster the speed, the further the stopping distance. At 30mph, most vehicles travel six car lengths between the moment the driver sees a hazard and the moment the driver safely stops the car. At 60mph, stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.

Damages in a pedestrian strike usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some situations.

Liability Issues in Hillsborough County Pedestrian Crashes

As a preliminary matter, if the victim had a pre-existing condition, the tortfeasor is usually liable for the full measure of damages.

According to the eggshell skull rule, tortfeasors take victims as they find them. For example, if the victim was in a wheelchair, the victim is in a more vulnerable physical state. If an attorney establishes that the collision exacerbated the pre-existing injury, and not the other way around, maximum compensation is usually available.

The eggshell skull rule also comes up quite a bit in nursing home fall claims. Typically, these victims were already in frail physical condition.

In pedestrian claims, right-of-way is not absolute. Even if a tortfeasor has a green light, the tortfeasor still has a duty of reasonable care. This duty requires operators to avoid crashes whenever possible. So, tortfeasors cannot use a green light as an excuse for their negligence.

Finally, there is the matter of the sudden emergency defense. This legal loophole applies if the tortfeasor:

  • Reasonably reacted to
  • A sudden emergency.

If both elements are present, the tortfeasor is not liable for the aforementioned damages.

Most drivers react reasonably to pedestrian strikes. They pull over and wait for emergency responders to arrive. However, the second element is usually inapplicable in pedestrian strikes. In this context, a sudden emergency is a completely unexpected situation, like a lightning strike or sitting next to Mick Jagger at lunch. A jaywalking pedestrian, while unusual, is certainly not completely unexpected.

Partner with Aggressive Lawyers

Pedestrian strikes often cause serious or fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.

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