Dump Truck Kills Elderly Pedestrian
A 74-year-old man who stepped out of a Ford Focus was almost immediately flattened by an oncoming dump truck. Few other details about the wreck were available.
According to police, the driver stepped directly into the path of the dump truck, which had been following the car. The wreck occurred on Southwest Becker Road, not far from the Interstate 95 exchange.
First Party Liability
Some combination of speed and failure to maintain a proper lookout causes most of the large vehicle-pedestrian collisions in St. Lucie County.
Excessive velocity increases the risk of a collision, because speed increases stopping distance. That’s the ground a vehicle covers between the time drivers see hazards and the moment they safely stop the vehicles. At 30mph, most passenger cars move about six car lengths during this brief time period. At 60mph, stopping distance multiplies to eighteen car lengths.
Certain factors, such as vehicle weight, increase stopping distance even more. It’s much more difficult to stop a dump truck than a passenger car.
Moreover, speed increases the force in a collision between two objects. In vehicle-pedestrian collisions, the victim usually bears the brunt of this force. At impact speeds slower than 20mph, the pedestrian fatality rate is only about 10 percent. The death rate catapults to 90 percent at impact speeds of greater than 40mph.
On most major Treasure Coast streets, 40mph is at or below the posted speed limit. Therefore, Port St. Lucie personal injury attorneys typically use the ordinary negligence doctrine to establish liability in these cases. Negligence is essentially a lack of reasonable care. This legal principle is easier to establish in commercial driver cases, because these operators have a high duty of care in Florida.
Lack of visibility is often an issue in these wrecks as well. Drivers sit very high up in dump trucks and other large commercial vehicles. So, it’s harder to see pedestrians on the ground, especially if they come from unexpected places, like a parked car. Because of this difficulty, dump truck and other commercial operators have a responsibility to use added care.
Third Party Liability
The respondeat superior doctrine usually applies in dump truck, taxi, Uber, and other commercial operator cases. This rule holds employers liable for the negligent acts of their employees if:
- Employee: For tax purposes, employees are usually people who work regular hours and receive regular paychecks. But for negligence purposes, employees are usually any people the employer controls in any meaningful way. That definition could include owner-operators, independent contractors, and even unpaid volunteers.
- Scope of Employment: Florida law defines this prong of respondeat superior very broadly as well. Essentially, any activity that benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That could include driving an unloaded vehicle which bears the company logo. The free advertising benefits the employer.
Other employer liability theories, which often apply in assault and other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.
Generally, private companies own dump trucks and other construction vehicles. Sometimes, however, the government owns such vehicles. The water gets especially muddy in situations like school bus or transit bus crashes. Frequently, legal ownership is hard to establish.
If the government owned the vehicle, special procedural rules apply. Typically, victim/plaintiffs must file a notice of claim before they file a legal claim for relief. The notice of claim gives the city, county, or whoever an additional opportunity to settle the matter out of court.
Damages in a car crash case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Speak with an Assertive Lawyer
Car accident victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Fort Pierce personal injury attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.