While pedestrian accidents often are caused by distracted, careless, or indifferent motorists, some collisions between motor vehicles and people who are walking, jogging, or running are the result of the faulty design of roadway features. Approximately 13 people die per day by cars after being struck while on foot. A report entitled “Dangerous by Design 2016” created by the pedestrian safety group Smart Growth America identified nine Florida major metros as among the 11 most dangerous metro regions in the U.S. for pedestrians. While municipalities and other government entities can be liable for pedestrian accidents caused by poor roadway design, the process of suing a government body or agency poses special challenges because of the principle of sovereign immunity. In this blog, our Miami pedestrian accident lawyers examine a Florida Appellate Courts decision that focuses on the important role sovereign immunity plays when people sue cities, counties, or the State of Florida for design defects that contribute to pedestrian fatalities.
In Gonzales v. City of Atwater, surviving family members of a 72-year-old woman who was run over in an intersection filed a lawsuit against the motorist and the municipality. The motorist who slammed into the elderly pedestrian was executing a left turn at an intersection into a shopping center. Evidence introduced at trial indicated the pedestrian had the right-of-way, but the driver testified he did not see her prior to crashing into her with his vehicle. Continue reading →