Deadly Hit and Run in Broward County
Police are searching for a motorist who failed to stop after fatally striking a pedestrian on the Florida Turnpike.
The wreck happened near the Atlantic Boulevard exit. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 62-year-old man tried to cross the southbound lanes on foot. A vehicle hit him as he was crossing. Police do not know the make or model of that vehicle, as the driver did not even slow down.
Emergency responders rushed the victim to a nearby hospital, where he was subsequently declared dead.
Tracking Down the Tortfeasor
Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) flee accident scenes for various reasons. Some are afraid to face the consequences of their negligence. Still others simply think they can get away with it. Regardless of the motive, the outcome is usually the same. In most jurisdictions, hit-and-run drivers are not successfully prosecuted unless they voluntarily surrender. But civil court is a different story.
Prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal court. But in civil court, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney usually must only bring the vehicle’s owner into court. It is more likely than not that the owner was driving the car at the time, unless the owner had an ironclad alibi.
To locate the vehicle and the vehicle’s owner, attorneys often work with private investigators to find evidence like:
- Additional Witness Statements: Even if there are no official witnesses to a hit-and-run case, there is almost always someone who was something. Frequently, such reluctant witnesses provide the critical missing piece of the puzzle.
- Surveillance Video: Cameras of one kind or another cover most of the intersections in Port St. Lucie. If the footage records even a partial vehicle license plate number, that’s usually enough to locate the owner.
- Body Shops: Hit-and-run tortfeasors usually do not take their vehicles to Service King. Instead, they take them to underground body shops in the area. Experienced attorneys know how to locate these places.
Even if an attorney is unable to locate the tortfeasor, hit-and-run victims usually still have legal options. For example, they might be able to file claims against their own insurance companies. The process is complicated, and an attorney helps immensely.
Obtaining Compensation in Vehicle Collision Claims
Once an attorney locates the tortfeasor, the victim/plaintiff must still establish liability for damages. In pedestrian crashes, this process often involves the sudden emergency defense. This legal loophole excuses liability if the tortfeasor:
- Reasonably reacted to
- A sudden emergency.
Insurance company lawyers often try to stretch this defense to pedestrian claims. But that’s not what this doctrine covers.
Typically, a sudden emergency is a completely unexpected situation, like a hood fly-up. A pedestrian crossing the Turnpike is certainly unusual, but it’s not completely unexpected.
Compensation in a hit-and-run case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, many jurors hate hit-and-run drivers. So, they are sometimes willing to award additional punitive damages.
Contact a Savvy Lawyer
The best attorneys know how to locate hit-and-run drivers and hold them accountable in court. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.