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

Tampa Driver Seriously Injures Child Pedestrian


A negligent driver (tortfeasor) ran over and nearly killed an 8-year-old boy as he was crossing the street.

The wreck occurred on Myrtle Street near the Serena Drive intersection. According to witnesses and the Tampa Police, the boy crossed Myrtle against the light and not in a marked crosswalk shortly before 8 am. Since the victim was barely breathing and conscious at the scene, first responders rushed him to a local hospital. He suffered a severe broken leg and other injuries, but doctors believe that he will survive.

None of the names were released.

Why Have Pedestrian Injuries Increased in Tampa?

In 2016, pedestrian injuries spiked to their highest level in two decades even as the number of overall traffic deaths levelled off. Researchers believe that the upward trend will continue, thanks to a combination of:

  • Lower Gas Prices: An improving economy means more vehicles on the road. Vehicle fatalities have not increased as much as pedestrian and bicycle fatalities (which also increased significantly) because today’s cars are much safer than the ones on the road even ten years ago.

  • Distracted Driving: The proliferation of smartphones has brought distracted driving almost to epidemic proportions, and hands-free devices aren’t any safer than hand-held ones. Both these devices are legal to use while driving in Florida, at least in most cases.

  • Excessive Velocity: Speed kills. At 25mph, the risk of pedestrian death is less than 20 percent; at 35mph, the death rate is close to 100 percent.

Solutions are available but there is very little likelihood that Florida policymakers will implement them. Wide sidewalks and buffer zones cost as much as $400 a foot. New York lawmakers, who recently reduced the state’s speed limits to 25mph on most residential streets, endured a howl of protest in response. Other physical changes, such as new street layouts to lower vehicle speeds and lengthening red lights to give people more time to cross the street, would probably be equally unpopular.

Damages in Florida serious injury cases include compensation for medical bills and tangible losses, as well as pain and suffering and noneconomic losses. Additional punitive damages may be available as well in some extreme cases, like when a driver is operating a car or motorcycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol or when a driver is texting before the collision occurs.

The Sudden Emergency Defense in Florida Pedestrian Accidents

This doctrine excuses liability if the tortfeasor reasonably reacts to an unexpected situation. Insurance companies usually try to shoehorn the sudden emergency defense onto pedestrian injury cases, if the victim crossed against the light. But the facts these companies use to support their position actually hurt them.

  • Time of Day: If the Tampa pedestrian “darted out into traffic” at night, that’s not an excuse for negligence. In fact, nighttime drivers have a duty to slow down and be extra vigilant.

  • Location: Drivers usually aren’t looking for pedestrians outside marked crosswalks, and they should do the opposite. People who cross at corners are not likely to cross without stopping and looking both ways, whereas people who cross mid-block often do not behave this way.

The sudden emergency defense usually applies to unexpected situations, like hood fly-ups. Like stalled cars or large potholes, jaywalking pedestrians are very common so drivers should be ready for them.

Connect With Aggressive Lawyers

Pedestrian knockdowns usually result in serious or fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We have offices in both Hillsborough and Volusia Counties.


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