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

Tampa Hit-and-Run Driver Seriously Injures Homeless Man


Authorities have few clues in the search for a driver who struck a wheelchair-bound man and immediately fled the scene.

An unknown vehicle struck 63-year-old Bernard Smiley near the intersection of Nebraska Avenue and MLK. Police believe that the vehicle may have significant front-end damage, due to the nature of the crash.

“When you strike someone like that, especially in a wheelchair, especially someone with serious injuries, and you do not stay at the scene, that’s a serious charge,” remarked Tampa Police Department Officer Steve Hegarty.

Medical Bills in a Tampa Pedestrian Injury Case

Whether or not the victim has medical insurance, pedestrian crashes often cause exceedingly high medical bills. A Tampa car accident attorney can make sure victims get the treatment they need, and not just the treatment they can afford.

These bills are especially high in pedestrian injury cases, since these victims are completely helpless against oncoming cars. Some of the serious injuries in these claims include:

  • Broken Bones: Upon impact, large vehicles usually hurl pedestrians into the air. When they land, their bones may be shattered. In these cases, surgeons must use metal parts to set the bones. Once the metal comes out, the victim must go through lengthy physical therapy.
  • Head Injuries: These same dynamics often cause serious head injuries. These wounds are always permanent, because dead brain cells do not regenerate. Physical therapy usually eases the symptoms, but brain injury physical therapy is often much more difficult than broken bone physical therapy.
  • Internal Injuries: Sudden violent motions cause internal organs to bump and grind against each other. Since these organs have no protective layer, this movement usually causes profuse bleeding. Many victims are on the edge of hypovolemic shock before first responders even arrive.

In many cases, emergency treatment alone for injuries like these may cost more than $100,000. That figure does not include physical therapy and other significant expenses. Many times, health insurance companies cite liability concerns and refuse to pay these costs.

Usually, personal injury attorneys can connect victims with doctors who routinely see car crash victims. These doctors know how to diagnose and treat these injuries. In many instances, these doctors charge nothing upfront. They agree to defer payment until the case is resolved, and they often discount their fees as well.

Legal Options in Hillsborough County Hit-and-Run Accidents

In most jurisdictions, about half of hit-and-run drivers are convicted in criminal court. Whether the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is identified or not, the victim still has options in civil court.

From both a compensation and justice standpoint, it’s usually best to identify the tortfeasor. Often partnering with a private investigator, a personal injury attorney collects evidence like:

  • Additional witness statements,
  • Surveillance camera footage, and
  • Records from local body shops.

Once the offending vehicle is located, an attorney can often establish tortfeasor liability in court. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). It is more likely than not that the owner was driving the vehicle at any given time.

If the offending vehicle is not located, most drivers can file claims against their own insurance companies if they have wisely purchased uninsured/under-insured motorists coverage.

Connect with Aggressive Lawyers

Hit-and-run drivers often cause serious injuries in car wrecks. For a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We do not pay upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

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