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Motor Vehicle Negligence – Auto/pedestrian collision – Defendant driver allegedly fails to make appropriate observations before backing out of garage and allegedly attempts to exit driveway too rapidly, striking 7-year-old neighbor with Down syndrome – Death action.

Charlotte County, FL

The plaintiff contended that the defendant, who rented a home that was diagonal, and to the rear of the minor plaintiff’s family’s home, negligently failed to make proper observations before exiting his garage. The plaintiff also supported that the defendant exited at too great a speed.

The plaintiff maintained that the evidence, including autopsy photos, reflected that the seven-year old decedent was probably standing. The plaintiff also supported that the decedent was initially struck in the feet, and then in the head, and asserted that had the defendant been traveling at a proper rate of speed and made appropriate observations, he would have been able to stop after the initial impact and avoid the fatal injuries.

The decedent suffered Down syndrome. There was no evidence of the path he had taken from his home to the defendant’s driveway, but the evidence seemed to suggest that the decedent had left his home without his parents’ knowledge, and walked to the defendant’s driveway.

The defendant, and his wife, contended that they both made observations before exiting the garage, and denied that the defendant was traveling too rapidly, and denied acting in a negligent fashion. The defendant further denied that an inference could be made that the decedent was standing in the driveway and was visible, as opposed to sitting or lying in the driveway, and would not be seen upon reasonable observations.

The defendant further supported that the decedent’s parents did not supervise him adequately. The jury, which found that the defendant was not negligent, did not reach the issue of supervision by the decedent’s parents.

The plaintiff maintained that the severe emotional consequences of the incident were heightened by the evidence that both parents came to the scene of the accident after they heard sirens, and observed the minor prior to his removal by emergency responders.The jury found that the defendant was not negligent.

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