A hit and run accident in Frostproof, Florida on July 7, 2017 took the life of Jerry Dean Walker. The Ledger reports that Walker was in the road and was carrying beer with him. The accident happened on U.S. 98 near the intersection with Avon Park Cutoff Road at approximately 12:35 a.m. Walker was a resident of Lakeland, Florida.
Finding A Hit And Run Driver
While it may seem an almost impossible task right after a hit and run accident has occurred, a significant number of hit and run drivers are eventually caught due to the efforts of law enforcement and cooperation from witnesses and body shops. For many people, it is very difficult or impossible to hide a damaged car from family or friends. Many people also rely on their only vehicle to go to and from work. These vehicles frequently end up at body shops for repair and end up getting reported to police that way.
Legal Liability In Hit And Run Cases
People will leave the scene of a fatal accident for a variety of reasons despite the fact that there is a mandatory minimum prison sentence for doing so. They may not have insurance or may have a warrant for their arrest that they are more concerned about than the person that they hit. Their hope is that they will not get caught.
Most hit and run accidents involving pedestrians involve some degree of comparative fault because a jury is likely to sympathize with the survivors of a hit and run victim due to the fact that the driver fled the scene. In other words, if the driver had nothing to worry about as far as liability goes, then the driver most likely would not have fled the scene. Therefore, assuming that at least some insurance is available, Mr. Walker’s death is a collectible wrongful death claim under Florida law no matter how bad of a night he was having by carrying or drinking alcohol and being in the road.
As much as sympathy is not supposed to enter into the judgment of a jury, it is human nature to do so because the jurors do not want to “reward” the bad conduct of someone who left the scene by finding that all liability rests upon the pedestrian who was hit in the roadway.
The fact of the matter is that drivers can often avoid an impact with a person or an object in the roadway, even at night, if they are paying proper attention to the roadway. If a case such as this one were to go to trial, I would expect a comparative fault percentage of 50% on the hit and run driver who fled the scene and 50% on the pedestrian who was in the roadway. On the other hand, if the driver had not left the scene of the accident, then the result would likely be very different.
A jury may also consider the fact that EMS may have been able to save the pedestrian’s life if they had been called sooner to respond to the emergency. These are reasons why any insurance company with coverage for this accident should pay its policy limits to the survivors without a court fight. If the insurance company forces the survivors to fight it out in court, then the result from the jury verdict may very well be in excess of any policy limits even with a reduction for comparative fault.
Cases such as these are decided by a jury (if they do not settle) whereby the jury is asked to apportion fault as a percentage totaling 100% and determining the total value of the decedent’s life. The jury does not make any reductions to the award because of comparative fault. Instead, any reduction to the verdict is done by the trial judge.
Contact A Lakeland, FL Personal Injury Attorney
If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident and needs legal help, you should contact a Lakeland, FL personal injury attorney for a free review of the case. An attorney may be able to determine whether the insurance applies to the accident as well as how to properly and legally obtain the policy limits. In some cases, a probate is required to resolve a wrongful death claim. Call today to schedule your free appointment with an attorney.
— The Ledger (@theledger) July 7, 2017