Clay County Personal Injury Attorney is a top-rated and experienced law firm that helps its clients to pursue justice and compensation for injury through personal injury claims. The lawyers at the firm have years of experience handling all kinds of personal injury cases, including pedestrian accidents, and helped pedestrians injured due to negligent driving with fair compensation. Recovering rightful compensation for losses after a pedestrian accident injury can be complicated as it depends on determining fault, a series of negotiations with insurance companies, and the statute of limitations.However, an experienced attorney by your side can help you fight for your rights and provide you with available options.
Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
Nobody expects to go out for a walk and get hit by a car, but accidents can happen at any time—without warning.Since pedestrians share space with motor vehicles in a variety of cases, such as walking along or crossing the street or sidewalk, they are vulnerable to being hit by the moving motor vehicles. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents in Florida are all too frequent than you probably realize. According to a report, Florida tops the list of worst states for pedestrian safety. With just 6 percent of the country’s population, Florida accounts for 11 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the country. Nine out of the 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians in the country are in the state of Florida.
Regardless of the traffic safety precautions and awareness programs, it’s sad to know that drivers still exceed the speed limit, drive distracted, and ignore safety signs. Every next year, a large number of persons get hit by a moving car or truck while they are jogging, walking, or riding a bicycle; this results in devastating, if not fatal consequences. Children and older adults are at a relatively higher risk of becoming victims of pedestrian accidents.
Every time a pedestrian and a motor vehicle are involved in a collision, the former is at high risk for severe or even fatal injuries.Since pedestrians have little to no protection when hit by a car or truck, the resulting injuries are often both severe and one-sided. Imagine a large piece of metal hitting against a tiny body of soft flesh and bones, without any protective armor! The worst pedestrian injuries in vehicle-pedestrian accidents may include broken bones, brain, and spinal injuries, lacerations, amputations, and paralysis. Such damages not only expose the victims with immense pain and suffering but also carry overwhelming medical expenses with them. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can help share the burden of injury and recover compensation for the physical pain, medical bills, and other losses incurred as a result of the accident.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
While drivers must pay attention to the road to prevent accidents, pedestrians are equally responsible and should be careful about the traffic signs and their surroundings to ensure safety.Here are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents:
Distracted Driving. Many motor vehicle accidents occur due to a case of distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, digging into a pocket/purse, and others. Pedestrians can also be at fault in accidents where they bump into a vehicle while crossing a road because they were texting, talking, or listening to music on their phone and paying little attention to what’s happening around them.
Negligent Driving. A driver may be considered negligent if he fails to give turn signals, fails to observe speed limits, fails to yield the right of way at crosswalks, or run red lights to end up hitting pedestrians in the crosswalk, and so on. Negligence can happen on the part of pedestrians too, like crossing road against the traffic signal, walking in areas where pedestrians are prohibited, jumping out in front of cars on the road without taking notice of the oncoming traffic, not using marked crosswalk or jaywalking, and others.
Drunk Driving. Sadly, driving under the influence is a big culprit on this list. Impairment by alcohol or drugs causes to blatantly disobeying traffic signs or signals by drivers. Also, sometimes people leaving bars and nightclubs may be a bit disoriented and stumble across the road due to the intoxication while being ignorant of the vehicles around.
Improper Visibility. A good majority of severe pedestrian accidents happen at night in urban environments. Dark clothes combined with a lack of lighting on the streets may lead to a dangerous condition where either the driver or the pedestrian fails to notice the other one.
Unmarked Crosswalks. At times, pedestrians cross the road from unmarked crosswalks, where the drivers are relatively less likely to pay attention to the presence of pedestrians than marked crosswalks. This condition leads to serious accidents.
The increasing popularity of SUVs and trucks is another cause of soaring pedestrian accidents in Florida. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, such vehicles exhibit two to three times higher degree of probability to kill a pedestrian in a collision as compared to a sedan. Whatever is the cause, the underlying result is the same, i.e., injury to innocent pedestrians.
General Duties of Drivers and Pedestrians Under Florida Law
Who is a Pedestrian?A common misconception among people is that if you are not driving a motor vehicle, then you are a pedestrian. However, it is not so. As per the state laws of Florida, a pedestrian is defined as any person who travels on foot. Also included are those in a wheelchair as well as those using roller-skates or skateboards.Since someone riding a bicycle is said to be operating a vehicle, they are not considered a pedestrian in Florida.
When a driver’s negligence causes injury to a pedestrian, they are liable for compensation under the personal injury law in Florida. While clearly, the pedestrians are at a high risk of life-threatening injuries, a driver can be held legally responsible if the circumstances suggest that the driver had failed to exercise a reasonable level of care towards the pedestrian or bicyclist and give warning whenever required. Florida law requires drivers to stop before reaching a crosswalk when a red traffic light is encountered. Every driver must exercise proper precaution upon observing a child or incapacitated person. Even if there is no crosswalk at an intersection, a driver needs to stop before reaching the intersection. Drivers must pay extra caution when facing pedestrians; however, the duty is not absolute.All road users, whether a motorist or a pedestrian, have a liability to stay alert and act responsibly while obeying all traffic rules to ensure a safe experience for all while on the road.
Florida law requires pedestrians to obey the instructions of any traffic control device (sign, indicator, or pavement striping) unless specifically instructed by a police official. Only crosswalks or dedicated intersections should be used to move from one side of the street to the other. A pedestrian must realize that crossing a road outside of a crosswalk requires them to yield to traffic, instead of traffic yielding to them. No pedestrian should "assume" that the approaching vehicle will yield to them and should wait for the traffic to pass. No person other than maintenance or government personnel is allowed to walk upon a limited access facility (freeway or highway) or a ramp that connects such a facility to any other street or highway –an inability to obey traffic rules and showing negligence while on the road can cause serious pedestrian accidents. Even when a pedestrian follows these rules, an accident may happen due to someone else's negligence.
Pedestrians Have the Right of Way: Not Always!
Knowing who has the right of way is one of the most critical factors in determining who was at fault during a pedestrian accident. You have likely heard the saying "pedestrians have the right of way," but that is not true in certain circumstances. It is the responsibility of all parties—driver or pedestrian—to do anything in their capacity to prevent the occurrence of an accident.
Here are some rules explicitly designed to help the drivers and pedestrians recognize when they need to give the right of way to one another.
Generally, pedestrians have the right of way within marked crosswalks as long as the traffic light is red and the “Walk” signal is lit. Drivers are obligated to yield to walkers who have already reached or quickly getting close to the halfway point. Furthermore, no pedestrian should enter the crosswalk under circumstances that would result in an immediate threat to either themselves or the driver. Instances, where a driver must yield to a pedestrian, include: when the vehicle is crossing at an intersection with a marked or unmarked pedestrian crosswalk, and when the car is crossing at a midblock pedestrian crosswalk unless it is at an adjacent signalized intersection.
When crossing between adjacent intersections that are controlled by traffic signs, the pedestrians must use marked crosswalks only. On the other hand, if there are two intersections adjacent to one another and one is controlled by traffic lights and the next is controlled by “Stop” signs, the pedestrian is lawfully entitled to cross midblock even without using a marked crosswalk. If both are controlled intersections, then the pedestrian must walk to the second marked crosswalk before they can cross the street.
As stated in Florida Statute 316.130, a pedestrian should not walk on the road if sidewalks are provided. A pedestrian may be considered at fault for the accident if they are walking in the road instead of a sidewalk. If no sidewalk is provided, a pedestrian can. However, in order to maintain safety while sharing roadways, a pedestrian is supposed to walk with the shoulder on the left side of the roadway, walking facing the oncoming traffic. When a pedestrian and a driver move facing each other, they tend to be more aware of each other's presence, thus reducing the probability of an accident.
In several situations, a pedestrian must yield the right of way to the driver. It includes:
- When crossing a road at any other point except a crosswalk, if the pedestrian has already entered the roadway under safe conditions.
- When crossing a road at a point when there is already an overhead walkway or tunnel, especially for pedestrians.
- Unexpectedly leaping out in front of a moving vehicle at such close distance that it is impossible for a driver to yield.
What Injured Pedestrians Have to Prove to Recover Damages?
In order to receive compensation for losses, including medical bills and lost income, the injured victims hold the burden of proof and are required to provide clear evidence of the driver’s careless and negligence led to the injuries and damages. If the injured victim can prove the negligence of the driver, he or she may be liable for recovering the damages. The injured victim must prove four elements to legally establish negligence in a pedestrian-car collision:
- The person at fault owed the victim who suffered a loss a duty of care;
- The person at fault had breached that duty of care;
- The at-fault party’s negligence or fault caused the victim’s injuries; and
- The victim suffered actual harm (injuries).
How Is Fault Determined in a Car-Pedestrian Accident?
While different things can contribute to the cause of a pedestrian accident, a majority of them involve negligence. Most people are likely to believe that drivers are always the guilty party when a vehicle hits a pedestrian; however, this is not entirely true. Negligence can occur in part of the driver or the pedestrian, and sometimes both can contribute to the cause of the accident. This makes determining fault in a pedestrian-auto accident a complicated task in real life than in the cut and dry.
In 1973, Florida changed its stance from following a contributory negligence rule and adopted a “pure comparative negligence rule”to determine the legal fault in a pedestrian accident. The civil court judges, after considering a lot of facts and circumstances of the accident, will determine the percentage of each party’s negligent actions. The law asks the question “did the pedestrian” or “did the driver” act as a “reasonable person” under the circumstances to determine the level of negligence of each party. If a driver hits you while you were in a crosswalk, it is a straightforward case of negligence on the part of the driver as the Florida law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. On the other hand, say you were walking down the street and decided to go on the other side of it by cutting in between a couple of cars and trucks. A judge or jury may question your actions and entitle them to be "not reasonable." The facts and circumstances of the case play an essential role in establishing the guilt and then decide the legal liability and financial responsibility of each party involved in the accident.
The injured party may owe compensation for following damages in a pedestrian-car accident lawsuit:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Funeral expenses, in case of death
For instance, a plaintiff got injured in an accident while crossing a road from a place other than a crosswalk. The driver was over-speeding, did not see the plaintiff coming, and could not stop at the right time. Here, the plaintiff and defendant (driver) shared the fault. If the court determines the plaintiff’s injuries merit to $100,000, but also finds that the plaintiff was 30 percent responsible for the accident, it would require the defendant to only pay $70,000 in damages to the plaintiff. The remaining $30,000 is reduced from the total merit amount of $100,000 for the 30 percent share of fault by the plaintiff.
Under Florida law, the pure comparative negligence doctrine also allows a plaintiff to recover for damages, even if the judges find them as a significant contributor to the accident. In the example mentioned above, even if the plaintiff was 90 percent at fault, he or she could have still recovered $10,000 for the damages incurred.
While in most cases, pedestrians file injury claims against the driver that hit them, there may be other parties at fault which could be held liable for having a role in the crash, including:
Local Municipality or Public Entities for malfunctioning traffic control devices, badly-positioned crosswalks, ineffective parking lot or sidewalk maintenance, and other safety hazards.
Product Manufacturer of a malfunctioning device, such as a skateboard or scooter, which caused the victim to deviate into the path of oncoming traffic.
Insurance Carrier of the driver’s insurance policy may be pursued for claiming medical bills and other damages after the victim exhausts their insurance policy. Compensation claims in such cases are often met with some resistance and may require the victim to file a lawsuit for getting proper compensation.
Another Person or Entity might be responsible if the victim was hit because he or she couldn't use the crosswalk or sidewalk due to them and the victim had to enter the "unsafe" street due to come action of that person or entity. For instance, the victim may take legal action against a restaurant owner who had blocked the sidewalk with its seating arrangement and that forced you to walk on the street.
Florida’s no-fault insurance law will let the injured pedestrians receive personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for the medical expenses, but doesn’t allow them to file a lawsuit against the negligent or at-fault party immediately. Only after filing a PIP claim and exhausting the threshold of PIP benefits, you may decide to proceed with a lawsuit against the at-fault party for claiming the remaining damages, including pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer can help you through each step of the process.
Staring from the date of the accident, Florida has a statute of limitations of four years to file a personal injury lawsuit. Failure to submit a claim within this time may prohibit the victimfrom recovering any compensation for the sustained injuries altogether.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
No injury is better than any amount of compensation! Here are some pedestrian safety tips toreduce the probability of car-pedestrian accidents, especially in urban areas:
- Pedestrians must always walk on the sidewalk, if available.
- Walk facing traffic if no sidewalk is available.
- Pedestrians must always cross the road from where they are expected to, such as a crosswalk or corner.
- Pedestrians must look both ways—left, right, and then left again—while crossing the street.
- Always watch out for turning vehicles; never assume a driver sees you and will stop for you.
- Never enter a roadway from between parked cars where oncoming drivers are unable to see you.
- Wear bright, reflective colored clothes, or carry a flashlight, for easy visibility at night.
- Avoid the use of a cell phone or headphones when crossing the street.
- Always abide by all pedestrian signs and signals, but don't entirely rely on them.
- Adults should always supervise kids while crossing a road.
In Florida, getting fair compensation for accidentsinvolving pedestrians can be tricky. It may encompass negotiations with insurance coverage companies or litigations against negligent motor drivers. While you were injured and hospitalized after the accident, the witnesses' memories may fade, and the potential evidence from the scene might vanish and no longer be available. An experienced attorney can preserve the necessary evidence and gather more to demonstrateyour personal injury claim by recreating traffic accident scenes with the assistance of accident re-creationists. The specialized personal injury attorney would also make efforts to collect witness statements, look into the driving record of the apparent at-fault driver, and re-evaluate traffic surveillance camera footage to put up a strong case of compensation ahead.
Find a Clay County Personal Injury Attorney Specializing in Pedestrian Accident Cases Near Me
Florida has a reputation for a high number of pedestrian accidents, which cause severe or even fatal injuries to those opting to travel by foot. If you or a loved one has been injured or lost a life in a pedestrian auto collision in Florida, you must seek legal counsel to get the compensation for pain, suffering, lost earnings, medical bills, permanent disability, and other damages.This cannot go without justice. Don’t delay.Choose an experienced law firm like the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney that has successfully represented pedestrians who suffered from injuries in auto accidents and helped them get a fair settlement while protecting your interests throughout the claims process. Contact our Clay County pedestrian accident attorney today at 904-494-8242 and speak to one of our seasoned lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation. Let our expert pedestrian attorneys fight for you!