Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 30, 2019 - Family members of a woman who died after being hit by a garbage truck brought a wrongful death lawsuit that accused the City of Tampa of negligence. The lawsuit claimed the garbage truck’s backup lights were not functioning and that the vehicle made no audible sounds when reversing.
The woman, was on her morning walk when a garbage truck backed up into her in the Davis Islands neighborhood in June 2018. The truck hit her as it was reversing down a narrow alleyway, dragging her 20 to 30 feet into the street before stopping. The woman’s survivors are seeking in excess of $15,000 in damages for mental pain and suffering, along with financial losses incurred for her medical and funeral expenses.
“No amount of money can ever make up for losing a loved one,” said Robert Joyce, a Tampa wrongful death attorney with Joyce & Reyes, who is not involved in the case. “However, surviving family members have the right to hold the negligent party accountable for a preventable death so that they can obtain financial support for their losses. In this case, it appears the city failed in its duty to ensure their vehicle’s safety features were functioning properly.”
Jarvis Horatio Mercer, 49, was identified as the driver of the garbage truck. There were no criminal charges brought against him. However, Tampa police issued a civil traffic citation for violating the right of way while driving out of the alley. Mercer told authorities that he was not aware of striking the woman until he felt the front of the truck shake and saw her body outside.
According to the complaint filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, the City of Tampa was liable for the woman’s death as it “consented and gave permission” to Mercer to operate the garbage truck. However, the city has denied liability.
A Tampa Bay Times investigation revealed that the garbage truck had experienced equipment failures a week prior to the fatal accident. The backup lights, warning alarm and camera were not working. Florida law requires vehicles to have a “visible indicator” when reversing. A city solid waste driver documented the truck’s equipment problems in an inspection record.
A post-collision police investigation determined that the garbage truck’s backup camera was working after a mechanic quickly repaired it. However, the mechanic was unaware that the backup alarm and reverse lights had problems.
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Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
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Tampa, FL 33606