Child Struck and Killed by Semi While Riding Bicycle in South Orange
On an otherwise quiet day in South Orange County, 10-year-old Kevin Pope was on his bicycle, crossing an intersection that displayed a ‘Walk’ sign. Knowing he had the right-of-way, Pope peddled across, as he probably had done countless times before. That quiet, calm day ended abruptly when a semi-truck entered the intersection at the same time that Pope was crossing it. The truck’s trailer struck Pope and he was pronounced dead later that day at Arnold Palmer Hospital.
Investigators from the Florida Highway Patrol said the truck did not stop after striking Pope, but they’re not sure if the driver realized a pedestrian had just been hit.
Lt. Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol told the Orlando Sentinel that the boy’s family was “devastated” by the incident. According to Montes, a preliminary crash investigation confirms that the ‘Walk” sign had been activated for Pope and a green light was on for the truck driver.
Despite both parties having traffic control devices indicating “right of way,” Montes says the truck driver’s failure to yield is indicative of a greater problem among Florida’s drivers.
“This kid did what he was supposed to be doing,” Montes told the Orlando Sentinel. “We need people when they’re making [a] right-hand turn to be watching out for pedestrians.”
Montes’ cursory observation touches on some startling statistics regarding the state of Florida. Studies in recent years have indicated that Florida is one of the deadliest states for pedestrians, accounting for the third most pedestrian-related deaths, according to a 2012 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
NHTSA’s 2012 report isn’t the only example of Florida’s growing number of pedestrian-involved accidents. A year following the NHTSA report, the University of South Florida-based Center for Urban Transportation Research published a report that confirmed fatalities relating to pedestrians and cyclists were increasing.
This incident is just one of a growing number of fatal pedestrian accidents, and what makes it more troubling is the fact that Pope’s death could have been prevented. While law enforcement is still searching for the truck, it’s being investigated as an accident for now. However, if the truck driver is apprehended and more evidence comes to light, law enforcement and the courts could determine that the driver’s negligence caused Pope’s death, opening the door for the family to pursue legal action.
Understanding Florida Negligence Laws
In the state of Florida, the concept of negligence is prominent in both criminal and civil manners.
There are four essential elements to keep in mind regarding negligence claims:
- Duty to Act: A duty to act with due care in regards to other parties. Example: A driver has a duty to operate his vehicle in a careful, safe, and responsible manner.
- Breach of Duty: A party fails to uphold or abide by the implied duty they’re accountable for upholding. Example: By failing to operate a vehicle safely by yielding the right of way to pedestrians, a driver breaches his or her duty to act.
- Proximate Cause: The critical link showing the relationship between a breach of duty and its relationship to another party. Example: A driver’s breach of duty directly affected another party by failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians, striking one or more pedestrians who legally had the right of way.
- Damages: Substantive or provable harm or costs to one party at the hands of another. Example: A driver’s collision with pedestrians resulted in permanent disability or great bodily harm, in addition to costly medical expenses.
If all of the above elements are present, a driver can be found negligent, allowing the victim or the victim’s family to pursue compensation. When this is the case, it’s paramount that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
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At the Umansky Law Firm, we’ve defended countless victims of negligence in Florida. Whether you or a loved one were harmed by a negligent driver, competent legal representation is vital. Led by attorney William D. Umansky, our lawyers bring more than 100 years of combined legal experience to the table.
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