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

Tampa Pedestrian Crash Kills One, Injures One


A man is dead after he evidently walked into the path of an oncoming car.

The wreck occurred in Pasco County. According to witnesses and investigators, a 51-year-old Tampa man was southbound on Dale Mabry near the Brinson Road intersection. At that moment, a 71-year-old pedestrian, whose name was not released, apparently stepped out in front of the driver’s 2007 Camry. The unidentified pedestrian died at the scene.

The driver’s passenger, a 44-year-old woman from Lutz, was seriously injured and rushed to a nearby hospital.

Legal Issues in Tampa Pedestrian Crashes

Nearly all fatal pedestrian crashes involve a speeding vehicle, a non-intersection crossing, and a dispute over the right of way.

In pedestrian crashes, there is a direct and disturbing relationship between speed and severity. Newton’s Second Law tells us that velocity multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. When these two objects are a motor vehicle and a human body, the multiplier effect is almost off the charts. At 30mph, the pedestrian death rate is about 10 percent. But at a 40mph or higher impact speed, the pedestrian death rate catapults to about 90 percent.

For many years, eyewitness testimony was the only way to establish vehicle speed. In many situations, this old-school method is still the best method. But technology gives personal injury attorneys another option. A vehicle’s Event Data Recorder keeps track of things like vehicle speed.

Assuming the EDR was working properly, EDR evidence is almost irrefutable in court. Machines like these are never biased, never have poor viewing angles, and are never wrong.

Florida has strong vehicle data privacy laws. So, to access EDR data, an attorney usually needs to obtain a court order. But before that can happen, an attorney must normally send a spoliation letter to the insurance company. Otherwise, the insurance company might “accidentally” destroy the EDR before an attorney can examine it.

Most pedestrian crashes occur outside marked crosswalks. Florida law is a bit unclear about who has the right-of-way in these situations. So, insurance company lawyers may introduce the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine excuses tortious conduct if the tortfeasor (negligent driver):

  • Reasonably reacted to
  • A sudden emergency.

The first prong is usually easy to establish. But the second prong is much different. A jaywalking pedestrian is much like a stalled car or a large pothole. Motorists should expect to deal with all these things. Therefore, a jaywalking pedestrian is not a “sudden emergency” since it is not a completely unexpected situation.

Liability in Tampa Passenger Injury Claims

Passenger injuries involve legal issues as well. The assumption of the risk defense, which commonly applies in premises liability claims, also comes up in passenger injury claims. The tortfeasor is not liable for damages if the victim:

  • Voluntarily Assumes: Getting into a car is not always a 100 percent voluntary act. Many times, the passenger has no other way to get from Point A to Point B. In other cases, there is a hint of coercion or bribery (g. “if you come to the store with me we’ll stop for pizza”).
  • A Known Risk: Car crashes happen, especially if the driver is impaired in some way. But this risk is theoretical. The risk only becomes a known one if the victim sees the tortfeasor driver erratically in the moments before the crash.

If the assumption of the risk defense does not apply, and it normally does not, insurance company lawyers may use a variation of the contributory negligence defense. This doctrine shifts some of the blame for the accident onto the victim and therefore reduces the amount of damages owed.

Legal damages in Tampa car crash cases usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Contact Aggressive Lawyers

Pedestrian accidents usually cause extremely serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Since 1976, we have skillfully handled pedestrian injury cases in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions liken Bradenton, Sarasota, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk counties.

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