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One Killed, Two Hurt In Roadside Crash


A quest for free coconuts ended very badly after a tortfeasor (negligent driver) ran over three pedestrians and also collided with another vehicle.

A landscape contractor, who sometimes also leaves free firewood and other materials on the roadside, left about 200 coconuts on the shoulder of Gadsan Avenue in Port St. Lucie. A 69-year-old woman in an SUV apparently spotted the coconuts as she passed by, and then as she backed up, she ran over a 67-year-old man, who later died as a result of his injuries, as well as two other bystanders. The woman also collided with a car that had a child inside, but the child was not injured.

Police say they are investigating the incident, but no charges have been filed yet.

Pedestrian-Auto Injuries

In 2015, a pedestrian died every 1.6 hours in a pedestrian-auto collision, and nearly 130,000 other victims were rushed to hospital emergency rooms with serious injuries. When a passenger vehicle, especially a large SUV, collides with a pedestrian, the victim nearly always sustains serious injuries, such as:

  • Broken Bones: Either due to the force of the collision or because the victim is pinned between two large objects, the fractures in these cases are often very severe, especially in extremities like the arms and legs.
  • Head Injuries: Since pedestrians have no restraint systems, air bags, or steel cages for protection, they often suffer serious head injuries, particularly because the force of the collision often throws many victims several yards or even further.
  • Blood Loss: Because of the serious nature of these external trauma injuries, to say nothing of the internal injuries that happen since these organs grind against each other, victims are often on the edge of hypovolemic shock by the time emergency responders even arrive on the scene.

All three of these injuries usually qualify as “serious” injuries under the law, as outlined below.

Legal Issues

Pedestrian-auto accidents often involve the sudden emergency defense, which insurance company lawyers try to expand to cover these situations. But the above story occurred not on the street with a forward-moving vehicle, but on the shoulder with a backward-moving vehicle. The facts raise the possibility of the last clear chance defense, which is a similar legal doctrine.

Essentially, if the injured pedestrians had an opportunity to get out of the tortfeasor’s path but failed to do so, the tortfeasor in the above story would not be legally responsible for their injuries.

In a hypothetical trial, much would depend on the speed of the vehicle. If it was traveling very slowly, the pedestrians probably had a reasonable chance to avoid it, but if the tortfeasor backed up quickly, the victims more than likely had no such opportunity. Based on the serious nature of the injuries, which included one fatality, it’s reasonable to assume that the tortfeasor was moving fast, and therefore the defense would probably not apply.

Damages Available

If the victim sustained serious injuries, the victim is entitled to additional noneconomic damages, for items like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life. Section 627.737(2) of the Florida Statutes defines serious injuries as:

  • Significant loss of function,
  • Permanent injury, or
  • Significant disfigurement.

Most serious injury claims fall under the “permanent injury” category, since most injuries like the ones described above never get 100 percent better.

Connect With Tenacious Lawyers

Auto-pedestrian accidents usually cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.



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