Sottilaro v. Figueroa, 86 So. 3d 505 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2012)

This lawsuit was filed due to a pedestrian accident involving a motor vehicle. The wrongful death claim was filed by the estate of the victim in the case, who passed away from the injuries sustained by the impact of the collision.

Towards the end of September in 2008, the victim in this case Christopher Cepeda, along with four friends, was playing basketball all day at a local court. As the daylight began to fade away and the night grew nearer, the group of friends decided to head home. The route that the kids had to take home included a crossing of the busy roadway, US 27. This road is high speed, frequently traveled four lane highway that contains a median in the middle.

The group of friends made the crossing of the two lanes going northbound, and chose to regroup in the center median prior to crossing the remaining two lanes, which were southbound. At that same moment, Denise Sottilaro was in her car headed southbound on US 27. Per Mrs. Sottilaro’s statement, she was traveling down the road at around sixty miles an hour in the outside lane. At some point, she noticed a car in front of her braking to make a right-hand turn so she decided to merge into the lane to her left.

Mrs. Sottilaro claimed that when she made the lane change, she witnessed the victim suddenly appear to the front of her car. She then claimed to adjust the position of her vehicle after seeing the young man, and then applied pressure to her brakes. Unfortunately, she could not stop in time and hit Mr. Cepeda, who later died from his sustained injuries.

Following the horrific event, statements were given by the friends of the victim. Per traffic reports, it was testified by the friends that Mr. Cepeda was attempting to cross the busy highway while texting on his phone. Statements revealed that he was looking down and not at the road when he made his way into the street.

When considering accidents involving pedestrians, it is important that we recognize that both motorists and pedestrians must obey traffic laws. While this may seem like basic information, it is a common misconception that a driver who strikes a pedestrian is ultimately the one responsible for the accident. However, that is not always the case. A pedestrian can have a part in the negligence which created the accident if they were not in accordance with the traffic laws of Florida.

Using careful driving habits can clearly assist in avoiding pedestrian-related auto accidents. Motorists who drive vehicles on roadways here in Florida have a duty to use reasonable care as to not create dangerous conditions for others on the road. A person can be found negligent for their actions if they fall below this established level of care owed to others. This is also true for pedestrians and how they conduct themselves on and near roadways. If their negligent acts help to generate the cause of an accident, they too can be held partly, or fully liable for the incident.

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving a vehicle hitting a bicyclists, jogger or person crossing a street; then you need to speak to an attorney so you can get answers to your questions. Contact the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Madalon Law for your free consultation.