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Fatal Pedestrian Accident On Florida Freeway

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A driver on Interstate 95 struck and killed a pedestrian described as a man in his 70s.

According to the St. Lucie County Fire District, authorities responded to the scene about a mile south of Gatlin Boulevard to discover that a motorist had hit a man walking in the roadway while wearing a hospital gown. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No other information was available as authorities continued their investigation.

Pedestrian-Auto Crashes

Over 150,000 people a year are either killed or seriously injured in pedestrian-auto crashes each year. The serious-injury percentage is much higher among pedestrians because a steel cocoon and multiple restraint systems exist to protect vehicle occupants, but pedestrians are completely exposed to danger. Some of the serious injuries they sustain include:

  • Head and Spine Injuries: The force of the impact often launches victims into the air, so their heads and backs are essentially propelled into the ground or pavement.
  • Broken Bones: These high-impact injuries often shatter bones to the degree that they require metal pins, plates, and screws to set during corrective surgery. After the metal comes out, the victims often must endure weeks or months of expensive and painful physical rehabilitation.
  • Exsanguination: External blood loss is relatively easy to stop, but internal bleeding only stops after surgical intervention, and by that time, the victims have lost massive amounts of blood.

Perhaps even more so than in vehicle-vehicle crashes, speed is a tremendously important factor in pedestrian-auto crashes. If the vehicle is travelling less than 30mph, the pedestrian’s injuries may be survivable, but if the vehicle is travelling much faster than that, the injuries are nearly always serious or fatal.

Negligence Defenses

The above story may involve an interesting application of the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine forgives a tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) liability if the driver acted in response to a sudden roadway emergency. There are two prongs:

  • Unexpected Situation: A tire blow-out or hood fly-up is a completely unanticipated event and therefore meets the legal standard for a sudden emergency; a car that makes an illegal lane change or a pedestrian who crosses against the light are not “sudden emergencies” in a legal sense, because these kinds of events occur much more frequently.
  • Reasonable Reaction: After the tire blow-out or other event, the driver must act reasonably, which normally means pulling over to the right.

As mentioned, pedestrian-related events are normally not sudden emergencies, because most drivers will probably see at least one pedestrian cross against the light on their way to and from work. But in the above story, the man was apparently walking in the traffic lanes on an interstate while wearing a hospital gown, which is certainly an unexpected situation. The judge would have to decide whether or not the sudden emergency defense applies, because its application is a legal question. If the defense is inapplicable, the victim’s family could be entitled to significant compensation because of the wrongful death.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Pedestrian-auto crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Resources:

tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2016/09/30/man-walking–95-port-st-lucie-dies-after-being-hit-car/91312808/

cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pedestrian_safety/

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