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Near-Fatal Pedestrian-Auto Crash In Port St. Lucie

A passing car hit and seriously injured a landscape worker who stepped into the street.

The wreck occurred on Gatlin Boulevard between Savona and Import. According to a Port St. Lucie Police Department spokesperson, a woman was cutting grass on the median and stepped off the curb to angle her lawn mower. After she was in the traffic lane, a westbound Toyota “clipped her”; she was seriously injured and rushed to a nearby hospital.

Police characterized the incident as an “unfortunate accident” and no charges are pending at this time.

Legal Issues in Car Crashes

Despite what television commercials may imply, in a vehicle collision case, the insurance company is most definitely not “on your side,” at least if you are a victim. As a matter of fact, insurance company lawyers will do whatever they can to minimize the compensation that the victim receives, and attorneys have a number of tools available to meet that goal.

If possible, the insurance company tries to excuse the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) liability, and the sudden emergency defense is one such method. This doctrine holds that tortfeasors are not legally responsible for damages if they were faced with an unexpected danger. There are two elements:

  • “Sudden emergency,” in the legal sense of the phrase; and
  • Reasonable reaction.

The first prong is closely related to foreseeability and proximate cause in a plaintiff’s negligence case. Certain events are foreseeable because they happen frequently, like stalled cars, children or animals that dart into traffic, vehicles that stop short, and pedestrians crossing against the light.

Since these items are foreseeable, they are not “sudden emergencies” for purposes of this argument. Legally, a sudden emergency must be unforeseeable, like a tire blow-out, hood fly-up, or large pieces of debris in the road.

In the above story, it seems clearly foreseeable that people with lawn mowers may suddenly step out into the street, and drivers should be on the lookout for these potential hazards.

Even if there was a sudden emergency, the driver still has a duty to react reasonably in the wake of this situation. Assume arguendo (for the sake of argument) that a landscaper stepping into the street fits the legal definition and meets the first prong. The driver must react reasonably, perhaps by blowing the vehicle’s horn, slowing down, or changing lanes. If the driver does not react reasonably, the defense does not apply.

Sudden emergency’s cousin, the last clear chance doctrine, sometimes flips liability in intersection crash cases. For the defense to apply, the victim must have an opportunity to avoid the crash but fail to take evasive measures. It is noteworthy that the victim must have the last clear chance to avoid the crash, as opposed to the last possible chance.

If the crash involves a serious injury, the victim is entitled to compensation for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are also available, in some instances.

Partner with Aggressive Attorneys

The insurance company is committed to minimizing compensation in car crash cases by any legal means available. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle cases in Lucie County and nearby jurisdictions.

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