A Florida man alleges he suffered permanent personal injury in a pedestrian accident he says occurred when two police officers left him intoxicated by the side of U.S. 98 North last summer. The 29-year-old says he’ll never walk again without assistance, and is seeking to collect damages from the department that employed the officers, as well as from the officers personally.
He was one of 7,870 people injured in pedestrian accidents in Florida last year, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). The agency’s latest traffic accident statistics report indicates there was a nearly 2 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in the Sunshine State last year. There was a 3 percent increase in the number of overall pedestrian crashes (from 8,838 in 2014 to 9,085 in 2015), as well as a 4.3 percent increase in the number of pedestrian accident fatalities (from 606 in 2014 to 632 in 2015).
The total number of traffic accidents last year was 374,342 – a 9 percent increase from the year before. Pedestrian accidents comprised 2.4 percent of all traffic crashes, but 23.6 percent of all fatal crashes last year.
Broward County accounts for a substantial number of overall pedestrian accidents in Florida – 1,098 last year. That was a 3.5 percent increase from the year before. In both years, there were 60 fatalities, while injuries increased from 950 to 980. In Miami-Dade, there was a 5.4 percent increase in pedestrian accidents, from 1,522 in 2014 to 1,604 in 2015. The number of pedestrian accident deaths in Miami-Dade spiked 21 percent just in that one year alone, from 77 to 93. Injuries from pedestrian accidents in Miami-Dade last year were 1,440, compared to 1,390 the year before.
The report doesn’t offer any insight as to why we are seeing this uptick in pedestrian accidents, but we do know that Florida historically has always had one of the highest rates of pedestrian accidents nationally. A report in 2014 by Smart Growth America revealed Florida cities -including Miami/Fort Lauderdale – topped the list of the most dangerous places to walk in America. A big part of the reason why is because roads were designed to accommodate fast-moving vehicular traffic, and was not structured with bicycle or pedestrian travel in mind. Although an increasing number of cities are adopting “Complete Streets” initiatives, it apparently isn’t happening fast enough, as seen by the uptick in pedestrian fatalities.
It’s worth noting that traffic accidents overall are up, which analysts have largely attributed to an overall increase in motor vehicle traffic, mostly owing to an improved economy.
What complicates so many of personal injury claims involving pedestrian accidents is that a substantial portion are hit-and-run. In many cases, plaintiffs must rely on applicable uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage.
The case out of Lakeland is somewhat unique in that plaintiff is not claiming negligence against the driver of the car, but rather the police officers who were reportedly entrusted with his care. According to The Ledger, police and paramedics were called to the scene of an intoxicated person by the road early one morning. They arrived to find plaintiff, highly intoxicated. Officers promised paramedics they would transport the man to the hospital. However, instead of taking plaintiff into custody and transporting him, as they promised, they reportedly allowed him to simply walk away. It is alleged by plaintiff that the officers were behind on ticket quotas and didn’t want to deal with the time and paperwork that a hospital visit would entail.
An hour later, plaintiff was reportedly laying in the middle of the road when he was struck and dragged beneath a vehicle. The impact of this crushed his pelvis, legs and ribs, lacerated his liver, urethra and abdominal wall, fractured his face and resulted in a brain bleed. At the time, his blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. He was in the hospital four months and underwent numerous surgeries.
Plaintiff alleges the officers owed him a duty to make sure he was safe from danger – including the foreseeable danger of leaving an intoxicated person incapable of caring for himself alongside a major roadway in the dark, early morning hours.
An internal affairs investigation by the police department cleared the officers. The police said they spoke with plaintiff to make sure he could make rational decisions and he had insisted he did not want money for a taxi or a ride home.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Lawsuit filed against Lakeland police, city in pedestrian accident, Nov. 2, 2016, By Suzie Schottelkotte, The Ledger
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Anderson v. Hilton Hotels Corp. – Florida Supreme Court Weighs Right to Attorney Fees for Injury Plaintiff, Nov. 14, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Blog