A 42-year-old man will spend at least the next four years in prison after he plead guilty to charges stemming from a hit-and-run crash that killed a fifth-grade bicyclist.
The man hit a 10-year-old girl as he exited a drugstore parking lot in January 2015; the victim was thrown off her bike and flew almost forty feet. She was rushed to a nearby hospital with a serious brain injury and other wounds, and she was later pronounced dead. According to investigators, the driver had two of his own children in the car with him at the time. According to his own testimony, the man panicked, fled the scene, and returned about two minutes later; some witnesses disputed that account and claimed the delay was more like fifteen minutes. Emotions ran high on both sides. Advocates for the victim pushed for the maximum seventeen years. On the other side, many character witnesses came forward for the driver, who is a convicted felon that, according to testimony at trial, has turned his life around.
A Circuit Judge refused to consider the driver’s alleged reckless driving when setting sentence at a maximum seven years, because prosecutors had dropped those charges.
Although bicyclists account for less than one percent of vehicle traffic, bicyclists account for over two percent of roadway fatalities. Additionally, over 50,000 bicycle riders a year are seriously injured in bicycle-auto collisions, and that figure has steadily increased over the past decade.
The serious injury/fatality rate is so high because riders are completely exposed to danger in these situations. Vehicle speed is a significant factor as well, because collisions at over 40mph nearly always cause either serious injury or death. Some common injuries include:
- Head Injury: Brain injuries are always permanent, because dead brain cells do not regenerate. However, after aggressive medical treatment and extensive physical therapy, other areas of the brain usually learn to take over lost functions.
- Broken Bones: This tissue does eventually regenerate and victims do regain use, but only after painful corrective surgery that normally requires metal pins or screws and long-term physical therapy.
- Wrongful Death: As mentioned earlier, the injuries are often so serious in these cases that victims cannot survive them.
If victims are seriously injured, they are entitled to compensation for both economic damages, such as lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as loss of consortium (companionship).
In most cases, bicycle-vehicle crashes are exempt from the no-fault law. But in many other kinds of crashes, victims must meet the threshold established in Section 627.737 of the Insurance Law to obtain noneconomic damages. The recognized injuries include:
- Paralysis: “Loss of function” can be either total or partial, but it must be permanent and regularly interfere with everyday life.
- Permanent Injury: This phrase is somewhat vague, so an aggressive attorney can use this provision in many different situations.
- Scarring: Ordinarily, the scars or disfigurement must be on the face, hands, legs, or some other visible body part.
Family members and legal representatives of victims who do not survive may be able to sue for damages as well.
Count On Aggressive Lawyers
Vehicle wrecks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an aggressive personal injury attorney in Orlando, contact Reed & Reed. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.