Florida Appeals Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Fatal Pedestrian Accident Case

Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal has affirmed a trial court’s order granting summary judgment in a fatal pedestrian accident case. In Panzera v. O’Neal, a man was unfortunately struck by a semi-truck while attempting to cross Interstate 75 on foot in 2011. Following the crash, the man’s estate filed a negligence lawsuit, seeking damages from the truck driver and the supermarket chain that employed him. In response, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.

In general, a motion for summary judgment asks a court to rule that there are no material facts in dispute and declare that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When reviewing such a motion, a court is required to view all information offered in the most favorable light for the non-moving party. If a material fact is in dispute, a motion for summary judgment should not be granted.

At a hearing on the defendants’ motion, the evidence offered to the trial court showed that the deceased man climbed a fence in order to reach the unlighted roadway on which he was killed. In addition, the deceased man was wearing dark clothing when the 3:00 A.M. pedestrian accident occurred. Additionally, the driver of the tractor-trailer that struck the man offered testimony that he slammed on his brakes and veered to the left in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid striking the pedestrian in the roadway as soon as he saw him.

At the time of the collision, the truck was equipped with a safety mechanism that limited its speed to five miles below the limit posted on I-75. In addition, the truck’s computer noted that the vehicle suddenly began to decelerate immediately before the fatal pedestrian crash. Law enforcement officers who responded to the scene of the accident also testified that the truck left long skid marks on the interstate, and it was clear the driver could not have done more to avoid striking the deceased man.

At the hearing, the decedent’s estate failed to offer expert or other evidence to refute the testimony provided by the police officers. In addition, the estate offered the court only unsupported speculation that the truck driver was capable of avoiding the man’s death. As a result, the trial court found that no material facts were in dispute and granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

On appeal to Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal, the court found that the man’s estate failed to offer sufficient evidence to support its negligence claims against the defendants. The court stated the only evidence in the record demonstrated that the truck driver was complying with the posted speed limit and attempted to avoid striking the pedestrian. Additionally, the appellate court said the evidence showed that the decedent’s actions constituted the “sole proximate cause of the accident.”

Since the man’s estate offered no admissible evidence to suggest the truck driver was responsible for the fatal pedestrian accident, and no material facts were in dispute, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

If you were hurt or someone you love was tragically killed in a South Florida car accident, you should contact a caring personal injury attorney who can advocate on your behalf. To discuss your rights with a seasoned Miami auto accident lawyer, call the experienced and committed advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Panzera v. O’Neal, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2015

More Blog Posts:

Middle District of Florida Holds Bad Faith Insurance Claim Should be Decided by a Jury, December 4, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida Appeals Court Overturns Unsupported Additur Award in Traffic Wreck Case, December 1, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog


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