Fatal Pedestrian Accident on Interstate 95 in Martin County
A Loxahatchee man is dead after a woman driving a Volkswagen struck him as he ran from east to west across the southbound lanes of I-95. The wreck occurred near Palm City shortly after 5 a.m. According to police, the woman hit the man in the southbound entrance lane to the freeway. The force of the impact propelled the man onto the Volkswagen’s windshield and then onto the road’s surface.
The victim was declared dead at the scene.
Pedestrian Accidents and Speed
Overall, speed causes or contributes to about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in Florida. As outlined below, this factor is even more pronounced in pedestrian accidents.
Significantly, even if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is travelling at or below the speed limit, velocity could still factor into a legal claim. The speed limit is a presumptively reasonable speed. Other conditions, such as a dark sky, moderate traffic, a wet road, or geographic features like hills or curves, could reduce the effective speed limit. For example, 75mph might be a reasonable speed under ideal conditions, but it is too fast in other situations.
Speed increases the risk of a collision, because it increases stopping distance. So, drivers have less time to react to emergencies. At 30mph, most vehicles travel about three car lengths in the time required for a driver to see a hazard, apply the brakes, and safely stop the vehicle. At 60mph, stopping distance multiplies to eighteen car lengths. Once again, other factors, such as wet roads and vehicle weight, affect stopping distance.
Additionally, speed multiplies the force in a collision. There is an old story that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will kill a pedestrian on the street. That’s not exactly true, but it is close.
In vehicle-on-pedestrian collisions, there is a direct relationship between vehicle speed and pedestrian fatality. The mortality rate is less than 10 percent if the tortfeasor is travelling slower than 20mph. At 40mph, the death rate catapults to 90 percent.
Liability Issues in Florida Pedestrian Crashes
As mentioned, a tortfeasor could be driving below the speed limit and still violate the duty of care. This duty requires drivers to obey the rules of the road and always drive defensively. If the tortfeasor violates that duty, and that violation substantially causes injury, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages.
Commercial operators, like taxi drivers and Uber driver, have an even higher duty of care. So, it is easier to prove ordinary negligence in these instances.
In all injury claims, the victim/plaintiff must establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Florida law.
LIability is not absolutely certain, mostly because insurance company lawyers often use the sudden emergency defense in pedestrian accident claims. If the police accident report states that the victim “ran” into traffic, insurance company lawyers almost always argue sudden emergency. This legal loophole excuses liability if the tortfeasor:
- Reasonably reacted to
- A sudden emergency.
Jaywalking pedestrians are not entirely unexpected situations. Drivers should anticipate these events, like they should anticipate stalled cars and large potholes. So, the sudden emergency defense normally does not apply in pedestrian accident claims.
Damages in these cases usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Work with an Experienced Lawyer
Pedestrian crashes often cause extremely serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie car accident attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury claims.