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Pinellas County

This was a wrongful death action brought by the estate of the 87- year-old female decedent against the owner and driver of a vehicle which collided with the plaintiff in Clearwater Beach.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant negligently struck the plaintiff as she crossed the street at an intersection. The defendant argued that the plaintiff caused the accident by suddenly walking into the front of his vehicle.

Evidence showed that the decedent exited a trolley in Clearwater Beach on February 22, ________, and attempted to cross Gulfview Boulevard in the area of the trolley stop. The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the decedent was struck by the defendant’s car while crossing the street, thrown onto the hood of the vehicle and carried 15 to 20 feet before rolling to the ground. This opinion was based on measurements taken from the scene and the observation of blood some 20 to 30 feet from the trolley stop, according to the plaintiff’s expert.

The judge ruled, as a matter of law, that the decedent was crossing the street at the intersection. The plaintiff’s expert also opined that there was nothing to obscure the defendant’s view of the decedent and that he should have been able to avoid the collision.

The plaintiff’s pathologist testified that the decedent sustained three cervical fractures as a result of the accident as well as fractures to the left fibula and left arm. In addition, she sustained multiple lacerations, a chest contusion and internal injuries, according to evidence offered. The decedent died later the same day from injuries sustained in the accident. The plaintiff’s pathologist opined that the decedent’s injuries were only consistent with a frontal impact and could not have been caused by a side impact. This expert also testified that the decedent’s cervical fractures were of such a nature that had the decedent lived, she would have been rendered a permanent quadriplegic. The plaintiff’s medical records noted that the decedent was numb from the waist down prior to her death. The decedent was survived by a son, age 62 at trial.

The defendant driver testified that he was proceeding down Gulfview Boulevard at a speed of approximately 20 mph when the decedent suddenly struck the right, front fender of his car. The defendant’s car, an older model Toyota, was carrying reels of cable, wood and ladders on the roof. The defendant testified that he did not see the decedent until she was on the hood of his car. The defendant denied that the decedent was carried any distance by his vehicle. Evidence showed that there were no skid marks at the scene nor any other indication that the defendant attempted to brake his car prior to impact.

The jury found the defendant 75% negligent and the decedent 25% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ which was reduced accordingly. The verdict included $________ in medical/funeral expenses; $________ in past pain and suffering to the decedent’s son and $________ in future pain and suffering to the decedent’s son. The defendant had a $________ liability limit in place at the time of the accident. The case settled subsequent to verdict for an undisclosed sum greater than the defendant’s policy limit, but less than the verdict.

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