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Fatal Pedestrian Accident In Cocoa Beach

Investigators do not plan to file charges against a tortfeasor (negligent driver) who struck and killed a pedestrian on State Road A1A.

According to police and witnesses, 67-year-old David Spivey, of Port St. Lucie, was northbound on State Road A1A when he hit 58-year-old Gulam Esoof, of Cocoa Beach, as he tried to cross the street. The incident occurred near the intersection of AIA and 9th Street.

Mr. Esoof was killed almost instantly and Mr. Spivey, who was driving a 2002 Volvo station wagon, was uninjured.

Pedestrian-Auto Crashes

In 2015, these crashes increased 10 percent, which is the largest such increase in forty years. Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting said that the study authors were “quite alarmed” over the sudden and dramatic increase. “Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country,” he added, largely because of engineering shortfalls and a lack of enforcement.

Most city streets are a lot like State Road A1A in Cocoa Beach: wide, straight lines that are designed to move vehicle traffic as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that also means that there is almost nothing, other than traffic control devices, to slow cars down, and speed is a primary contributing factor in pedestrian-auto fatalities. According to the AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, the pedestrian death rate is twice as high, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is traveling at least 42mph.

In terms of enforcement, most tortfeasors who strike pedestrians are not cited, unless there is some other serious violation as well, such as DUI. This is true even if the pedestrian is seriously injured or killed. Therefore, the only effective way to make area streets safer for pedestrians is to pursue negligence lawsuits.

When such lawsuits go to trial, alcohol is a factor in almost half of them. Alcohol is a depressant which slows reaction time and impairs judgement, and since many pedestrian accident victims are either young children or older adults, that extra few milliseconds can be the difference between a serious injury crash and the pedestrian avoiding the oncoming car.

Damage and Liability Issues

In Florida, pedestrian-auto crashes are exempt from the no-fault law. So, victims do not need to prove serious injury to receive compensation for their economic damages, like medical bills, and noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering. Punitive damages are available as well, in some cases.

To reduce the amount of damages, the insurance company often invokes the sudden emergency rule. Essentially, the lawyers argue that the pedestrian “darted out” into the street (insurance company attorneys love using that phrase) and the driver could not avoid the crash. However, a jaywalking pedestrian is not a “sudden emergency” for purposes of this rule, because this situation happens a lot and therefore is not completely unexpected.

Likewise, the sudden emergency defense usually does not apply to stalled cars, road potholes, stopped-short cars, and other common hazards. Furthermore, even if there was a “sudden emergency,” the tortfeasor still has a duty to react reasonably to the unexpected hazard, or else the defense is inapplicable.

Contact Aggressive Attorneys

When negligent drivers strike pedestrians, negligence lawsuits are usually the only available remedies. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, PA. Home and hospital visits are available.

Resources:

floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2016/11/11/pedestrian-killed-cocoa-beach-crash/93636324/

bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/03/08/pedestrian-fatalities-rising-faster-than-ever-before-study-says/AjfBkW7WPhKsvvbwweL7UP/story.html

aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2011PedestrianRiskVsSpeed.pdf

philly.com/philly/columnists/inga_saffron/If-you-want-to-kill-someone-and-not-get-punished-use-a-car.html

crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/Publication/812124

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