A Jacksonville man, 61 years old, died after being hit by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus. The man was hit last Tuesday morning while crossing a street in downtown Jacksonville. The side mirror of the bus struck the man’s head and knocked him down before its rear wheels ran over him. Although the bus stopped, it was too late. The man was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus was turning left from Laura Street onto State Street when the pedestrian was hit. A sergeant from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said it did not appear that the man was using the crosswalk when the bus hit him.The bus had a green light to make the left turn.
Approximately 20 percent of accidents at intersections involve pedestrians. Accidents occur more often when the driver is making a left turn. In fact, three times as many pedestrians are hit by cars making left turns than cars making right turns, most likely because both parties are focused elsewhere. The driver is focusing on oncoming cars rather than looking for pedestrians, and the pedestrian is looking straight ahead. According to Science Daily.com, about four to nine percent of the time, drivers do not check for pedestrians when making left turns.
Pedestrians are at even more risk when drivers are turning left at a green light rather than a green arrow. Especially in heavy traffic, drivers “gun it” and turn as soon as they get a break in traffic. Again, this requires a driver to focus on oncoming traffic, sometimes at the expense of a pedestrian trying to make it across the intersection.
In general, a vehicle making a left turn is usually found negligent when an accident occurs with another vehicle. In cases involving pedestrians , however, the pedestrian can be found at fault if he or she disobeys the law, such as not crossing the intersection at the crosswalk. Of course, each case is different and depends on the facts. Sometimes, both parties may be partially at fault. But no matter who has the right of way, both drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility to exercise care and caution, especially at intersections. The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is cooperating with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in the investigation of the fatal bus accident.
Even if the investigation finds the Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus driver to be at fault, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority cannot be held liable beyond state caps on damages. This is due to a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling resulting from a lawsuit filed by woman who was injured by a Jacksonville Transportation Authority bus in 2005. This Supreme Court decision is not good for those involved in accidents with Jacksonville Transportation Authority drivers because as state employees, they are protected by “sovereign immunity,” even in wrongful death cases.
Written by Elizabeth Allen
Unfortunately, Jacksonville is not a particularly safe city for pedestrians. In fact, Jacksonville was cited by The Alliance for Walking and Biking as the worst city in the country when it comes to pedestrian safety. If you have been in a pedestrian-car accident, give our Jacksonville attorneys a call. There is no charge for a consultation and you pay us nothing unless we recover damages on your behalf.