South Florida Avenue Accident Causes Head Injury To Pedestrian

Car Accidents

An accident at the intersection of South Florida Avenue and East Edgewood Drive in Lakeland resulted in a serious injury to 72-year-old Emilio Mendoza Vega.  Mr. Vega was a pedestrian at the time that he was struck by Joann Smith.  The accident happened at approximately 6:30 a.m. on January 27, 2017 when Ms. Smith stopped at the red light at Edgewood Drive and then proceeded forward after the light turned green but she failed to notice that Mr. Vega was already crossing the road.  Ms. Smith was driving a red 2014 Dodge Ram at the time of the accident.  Mr. Vega was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with a significant head injury.  After the collision, Ms. Smith stopped and called 911.

Drivers Must Exercise Due Care To Avoid Pedestrians

This pedestrian accident is unfortunately the result of a driver who failed to pay full attention to the roadway when she should have.  It is troubling that Ms. Smith was stopped at a red light and then failed to see Mr. Vega in the roadway.  While the decision made by Mr. Vega to cross when and where he did was a bad one, Florida law requires the driver of a motor vehicle to avoid an accident with a pedestrian whenever possible.  The relevant section is section 316.130, Fla. Stat.:

(15) Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.

While Mr. Vega should have used the crosswalk and should have waited for a walk signal, the intersection involved has significantly street lighting and a pedestrian should be visible at all hours of the day.  Further, the circumstances of this accident are such that it cannot be said that Mr. Vega suddenly darted out in the road and that the driver could do nothing to prevent the accident.  Instead, this accident was likely entirely preventable because Ms. Smith probably could have seen Mr. Vega while she was still stopped at the red light.  Therefore, she is likely to be held legally responsible for this accident should it go to a jury trial.

Traumatic Brain Injury

The fact that Mr. Vega sustained a significant head injury is an indicator that he has suffered an traumatic blow to his brain.  Even without a skull fracture, a person who hits their head very hard typically sustains a traumatic brain injury.  This occurs when the brain “sloshes” inside the skull and against the hard bony tissue of the skull itself.  After the traumatic insult to the brain, swelling occurs and is normally relieved by a neurosurgeon who cuts a flap and opens the skull, relieving intracranial pressure that can cause death.  After the swelling becomes controlled, a custom skull implant is typically implanted surgically and the head is closed up.

Most traumatic brain injuries are closed head injuries rather than penetrating head wounds.  A closed head injury occurs when there is an insult to the skull resulting in “bruising” to the brain causing swelling.  A skull fracture, while common, is not a determining factor in whether a traumatic brain injury has occurred because the injury occurs when the brain impacts the side of the skull.  A twisting motion or torque can also cause a significant brain injury as the inside of the skull is rough and jagged in places.

Call A Lakeland Car Accident Attorney To Discuss Your Case

If you or someone you know has sustained an injury as a pedestrian, you should contact a Lakeland car accident attorney to discuss the merits of your case in a free consultation.  At Russo Law, our office is located on Lakeland Hills Boulevard and is directly across from Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.  Our attorneys are available for in-hospital visits to provide help when it is needed the most.


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January 28, 2017