Court Tosses Negligence Suit in Scooter-Mail Truck Accident – Baumgardner v. U.S.

In Florida car accident cases, as in many other types of litigation, witness testimony goes a long way. The U.S. District Court’s recent ruling in Baumgardner v. U.S. is another example of just how far.

The case stemmed from a tragic Florida car accident in which the victim suffered permanent head, back and lung injuries when the scooter he was driving collided with a U.S. Postal Service mail truck. A postal service employee was driving the truck on her assigned route in Homossassa at the time of the crash. The accident occurred as she was traveling between mailboxes at about 20-25 miles per hour when the victim drove his scooter out of a bush-lined driveway without stopping.

The victim’s guardian sued the U.S. government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that the mail carrier was negligent in causing the accident and that she was acting in the course of her employment at the time.

The mail carrier testified that she was not speeding at the time of the accident, but simply did not see the scooter until it was too late because it was blocked by the tall, thick bushes lining the driveway. The victim, on the other hand, had no recollection of the incident.

A third witness, who was driving less than 100 yards away at the time of the accident, also testified. She said that, from the street where the accident occurred, it is not possible to see vehicles on the driveway farther than less than a car length away because of the bushes. She also said that the scooter had already exited the driveway at the time of the accident, but that the mail carrier was unable to evade it because of the obstructed view.

The court granted the government’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the mail carrier did not breach any duty of care owed to the scooter driver. As the court explained, a person suing for negligence in Florida must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the person injured; that the defendant breached that duty and that there is a “reasonably close causal connection between” the breach and the harm. Here, the court found that the mail carrier was driving in a reasonable and safe manner at the time of the accident and therefore did not breach any duty.

“There was no opportunity for her to avoid the collision…because the driveway that [the scooter driver] emerged from was completely obscured by shrubbery and high trees,” the court explained, noting that this was confirmed by the witness testimony. “Simply put, this is a case where [the scooter driver] darted out of an obscured driveway into [the mail carrier]’s path, and there is no evidence suggesting that [she] could have avoided this accident,” the court further said.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Florida, it is important to consult an experienced attorney to ensure the strongest possible legal representation in the event a lawsuit goes to trial. The South Florida car accident lawyers at Anidjar & Levine represent clients throughout the area, including in Pompano Beach, Hialeah and Boca Raton. Call our Fort Lauderdale office today at 800-747-3733.

Related blog posts:

Causation In Florida Car Accident Litigation – Durse v. Henn

Court Reverses Florida Motorcycle Accident Ruling on Comparative Negligence Grounds – Diaz v. FedEx

Court Allows Suit Against U.S. Stemming From Marine’s Deadly Car Accident to Move Forward – Rodriguez-Rivera v. U.S.