Protecting Our Pedestrians: Hit-and-Run Claims Another Life in Lakeland
This week has seen yet another fatality caused by a hit-and-run accident here in Lakeland. Sadly, in this case, a suspect has yet to be found, and the family of the woman killed has no closure or information. On October 6th at 6:30 AM a Black Ford F-150 (likely a 2004-2008 model) heading toward U.S. 98 North on Duff Road struck a female pedestrian and fled the scene. The woman passed away, but the investigation into who hit her is ongoing.
Unfortunately, the time of day that this victim was struck is a common time for hit-and-run accidents to happen. Early morning and dusk are when the sun is just coming up/going down and that combined with your headlights can actually make it quite hard to see someone walking on or near the roadway. It’s important to remember as a motorist that even though the pedestrian might have been wearing dark clothing, and taking NO precautions for protecting herself while walking, you will still be held liable if you hit them with your vehicle. So, how can you protect yourself from being charged, and protect pedestrians on the roadway?
First, you can’t underestimate hyper-vigilance when driving during the early part of the day or in the evening. You always need to pay attention when you’re behind the wheel. If you know there is extra risk such as poor lighting, you need to be on alert and ready to stop suddenly or avoid hitting someone/something that you couldn’t see from a distance.
Additionally, remember to check and double check your headlights to ensure they are on and warning pedestrians and other motorists that you are coming. Especially in foggy or rainy weather, your headlights can save a life if they give someone a heads-up that you are coming toward them and can give them time to get out of the way. If your headlights are damaged, faded, or dirty give them some TLC to keep them shining bright.
Finally, keep in mind that pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way. Even if they are in the middle of the road and refuse to move off to the side, if you attempt to pass them and they end up being hit, you will likely be held liable. Always give plenty of space for pedestrians/bikers/runners, and if you do have to pass them, wait until you have plenty of clearance and adequate time with no one coming in the opposite direction.
If you have been injured because of a hit-and-run, or if you are suffering from a collision as the driver, give us a call. Sessums Law Group represents clients throughout the greater Lakeland and Sebring area of Central Florida, and when the unexpected happens, WE STAND FOR YOU!