According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, pedestrian fatalities in the United States increased by sixteen percent in 2016 alone. In Florida, the 2017 preliminary data showed that there were more than one hundred pedestrian deaths. It is clear that as a resident of Clay County, you are at an increased risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident compared to vehicle occupants. It is because you are exposed and unprotected from the impact of the car. If you have suffered a pedestrian accident, call us at Clay County Personal Injury Attorney for help in seeking compensation.
Pedestrian Accident Prevalence
A pedestrian is any individual using the roadway or walkway who isn't in a motor vehicle. It includes segway riders, roller skaters, skateboarders, cyclists, runners, joggers, and walkers.
According to the National Safety Council report in 2018, the number of traffic-related collisions in 2017 reduced by one percent over 2016. That is good news, although more than forty thousand people died in 2016 and 2017.
However, what is disturbing is that, although the report shows a decline between 2016 and 2017 in the U.S., pedestrian fatalities didn't. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, pedestrian deaths increased by forty-six percent from 2009 to 2016. It comes notwithstanding new safety technology designed at lowering the risk of pedestrians being hit by cars.
It isn't just the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety whose figures show pedestrian accidents prevalence. According to the 2016 Pedestrian Safety Forum by the National Transportation Safety Board, sixteen pedestrians in the U.S. succumb to accidents daily.
In Florida, there were about five thousand four hundred and thirty-three pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017. The Pedestrian Danger Index calculated in the report is 182.0. What is disturbing is how the figures show there is a 1.55 average for death per one hundred people and 55.3 pedestrian danger index. That means the state of Florida is double the national statistics.
Most people believe the frequency of these accidents is due to the cities' infrastructure. Most cities weren't built with pedestrian travel in mind. The cities were designed to expedite car travel at the expense of safe pedestrian structures like bike lanes, pedestrian overpasses, crosswalks, and sidewalks.
As far as development is concerned, Florida is spread out and flat. Motor vehicles are the preferred mode of transport, leading to less development of public transit and broader roads. As a pedestrian, you've to cross many lanes in length.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that seven thousand six hundred and eighty pedestrians died in both non-traffic and traffic accidents in 2018. Non-traffic accidents happen on non-traffic ways like parking lots, driveways, or private property. It was also reported that most pedestrian traffic deaths occurred in the open area (74%), urban settings (79%), at night (76%), and intersections (25%). The largest number of pedestrian fatalities occurs on Saturdays (one thousand and thirty-one), and eight hundred and thirty-seven deaths happen at night.
Non-intersections are the highest in the city where pedestrians are injured. Reports from the United States Department of Transportation indicated approximately seventy percent of pedestrians' deaths while on foot, jogging, walking, or running were involved in car accidents in 2012. Most of these accidents occurred between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM (nighttime) and when the weather was clear. Interestingly, only eleven percent of pedestrian accidents occurred during foggy, snowy, and rainy weather conditions than 89% during normal weather conditions.
Who is at an Increased Risk of Getting Involved in a Pedestrian Accident?
Although any pedestrian can get hit by a car, specific categories of people are at an increased risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these groups include:
- Male pedestrians are at an increased risk of sustaining pedestrian accident injuries compared to female pedestrians.
- Young adults and teenagers between fifteen and twenty-nine are more likely to be treated for injuries in emergency rooms compared to other age groups.
- Seniors are at an increased risk of succumbing to pedestrian accident-related injuries.
- One in every five traffic deaths of children below fourteen years of age is due to pedestrian accidents.
What are the Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
While there are many things that you can do to protect yourself, some things are out of your control. Discussed below are common causes of pedestrian accidents in Clay County:
Drowsy driving does not sound dangerous. After all, the world expects human beings to be active 24/7. Between the demand for active lifestyle and careers, many people do not get adequate sleep. According to the American Sleep Foundation, sixty percent of motorists admit to having operated their car while tired.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that one in every twenty-five motorists admit to having driven while tired.
According to a study conducted by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, it was discovered that motorists who slept for only five (5) or six (6) hours in the previous twenty-four hours were as hazardous as drivers with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08%. Lack of sufficient sleep affects cognitive processes, including the ability to operate a car safely and driving skills. Fatigue can result in:
- Delayed reaction time
- Poor concentration and attention
- Poor judgment, especially when reacting to traffic and road conditions
- Decreased or slowed motor skills
- Impatience or agitation with other road users
- Blurry vision
- Drifting across lanes
If a driver who caused your accident was fatigued, then that can be considered as negligence. Negligence is a failure to use reasonable care. The term "reasonable care" means how a rational individual in a similar or same situation would act.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
According to a report released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, around five thousand one hundred and twenty-five impaired driving accidents occurred in Florida in 2018.
Moreover, more than three hundred and fifty people died. Drivers who drive their motor vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are dangerous to all road users, especially pedestrians. Drunk motorists making left turns in front of pedestrians or driving through crosswalks against traffic lights can cause a collision. You need to be conscious of drunk motorists when walking in traffic at night.
The Relationship Between Pedestrian Accidents and Walking Drunk
When thinking of the danger of alcohol or drugs and accidents, most people think of drunk driving. However, a report released by the CDC showed that 34% of pedestrians who succumbed to pedestrian accidents had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.08%.
When you walk and get involved in an accident, you do not have the same protection as a motor vehicle occupant. Also, cars have lights that make them visible to other motorists, and a pedestrian is smaller than a car. All these factors mean that a pedestrian who walks drunk puts their safety and life in danger.
Most people are surprised to learn that a pedestrian can be liable for the accident. Just like a motorist could be accountable if a chain of events that caused the accident are considered, a pedestrian has the responsibility to act reasonably.
The state of Florida follows pure comparative fault rule. That means all involved parties are assigned a portion of fault. If you are assigned twenty-five percent of the responsibility, your total compensation amount will be reduced by twenty-five percent. Proving that you were not accountable will involve presenting evidence like a police report, witness statements, and surveillance camera videos.
Distracted Driving and Pedestrian Accident
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than three thousand one hundred and fifty-four people, including pedestrians, died due to distracted driving in 2013. When a motorist runs into or over a pedestrian, they may have numerous distractions that contributed to the accident. Common distractions include tending to a child, eating, drinking, adjusting a radio, or navigating a GPS. These are also the age of smartphones and computers. While collecting a substance that has fallen may distract an individual for a few seconds, a smartphone can keep a driver's mind, hands, and eyes from the wheel for long enough to hit a pedestrian.
Additionally, there are numerous distractions outside the car. These happen through lights, music, and sights. While some drivers might find a jogger's body attractive, others could be distracted by an emergency car moving in the opposite direction.
When drivers cannot stop the distraction from taking their awareness from the road, they might collide with you. If the motorist is on the road with a posted speed limit, they might injure you slightly. However, if the driver is speeding, you risk suffering from severe injuries or death.
The state of Florida has its fair share of poor weather conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, twenty-three percent of traffic accidents are weather-related. Moreover, seventeen percent of deaths and twenty percent of accident injuries are weather-related. Weather-related accidents are accidents that happen during slick pavement or adverse weather conditions.
High winds and heavy rain can impair a motorist's ability to see, and they need to be cautious. Otherwise, they will be accountable for any injury caused.
Putting on Dark Clothes at Night
As the day becomes night, the number of pedestrian collisions goes up. If you plan to walk at night, put on light-colored or white clothes and carry a pocket flashlight with you. Although most crosswalks and intersections are illuminated, it's still hard for motorists to identify pedestrians who blend in with background darkness.
Pedestrians have the right of way. If a pedestrian doesn't see a motor vehicle and begins crossing the street against the light, the pedestrian still has the right of way. An impatient motorist will not look out for other road users or attempt to drive around you, causing a pedestrian accident.
Different Pedestrian Accident Injuries
As a pedestrian, whether running, jogging, or walking, you are prone to an accident with a negligent motorist. It is essential to know the most common injuries that you can suffer as a result and stay safe.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles estimates about nine thousand and two hundred pedestrian collisions happened on Florida roads in 2018, causing six hundred and seventy-four deaths.
Pedestrian accidents don't frequently happen like car accidents, but when they occur, the injuries are severe. Since pedestrians struck by motor vehicles often sustain a violent blow to the head, traumatic brain injuries are typical results of the collision. Depending on the seriousness of the crash, a traumatic brain injury can be a life-altering event that causes permanent disability or death.
Symptoms of a TBI include:
- Excessive weakness
- Decreased coordination
- Numbness in your limbs
- Slurred speech
- A headache which increases in seriousness over time
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Spinal cord injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident are severe and more common than many people may realize. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that there are about seventeen thousand new cases of SCI in the U.S. annually. Since 2010, traffic-related collisions are the leading cause of spinal injuries, accounting for thirty-eight percent.
A spinal cord is one of the vital structures of the body, and when injured, it can result in pain in various body parts. It is a bundle of vertebrae, tissues, and nerves that runs down the back and connects to the back, forming the central nervous system.
There are three parts of a spinal cord, namely: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. When your vertebrae are injured, it affects the body parts below the injury location. When the cervical spine (neck and upper back) is damaged, you risk suffering complete paralysis or even fatality.
The various types of spine cord injuries include:
- Fractured vertebrae
- Ruptured or herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Pinched nerves
Common symptoms of spinal cord injuries include:
- Digestive challenges
- Breathing challenges
- Weakened or loss of touch or temperature
- Loss of motion
Also known as broken bones, fractured bones happen when more force is exerted on a bone than it can absorb. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two million seven hundred and forty-six thousand people sustained traffic-related injuries, including fractured bones in 2017.
A broken bone injury can happen even when hit by a motor vehicle at a slow speed. A pedestrian accident can cause injuries to different body parts, such as:
- Spine and neck
On top of being painful, repairing fractured bone injuries can be costly due to medical costs and wages lost from not being able to return to work for long.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department, there were nine thousand four hundred and twenty pedestrian accidents in 2017. Eighty-six percent of these accidents involved injuries, including road rash.
A road rash is skin irritation or rash. It happens when friction with the road surface grinds at least one layer of the skin away. Road rash injuries are classified into three different levels of seriousness:
- First-degree abrasions- These are the least severe form of road rash injuries. They involve the upper skin layer (epidermis). Usually, they present with tenderness and redness but don't bleed. They recover within a couple of days.
- Second-degree abrasions- These injuries can bleed and involve damage to the dermis and epidermis. You should seek medical attention since you are an increased risk of suffering from infections.
- Third-degree abrasions are the most serious road rash injuries and can involve muscle or nerve damage. More often than not, accident victims undergo skin graft (a process where the skin is extracted from another body part to assist the wound heal). The recovery process is not only painful but also lengthy.
Motor vehicles have substantial momentum and force even when they are moving at low speeds, and often, the body is unable to absorb the force. As a result, the inside of your body is seriously injured, leading to internal bleeding.
Internal bleeding symptoms are not apparent immediately. If and when they manifest, you might not realize how bad the injuries are. If you fail to immediately seek medical attention, your health could worsen or even find yourself losing your life.
Your treatment for the injuries ought to be paid by the defendant. You are also entitled to compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
Do You Need an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
According to research done by the All-Industry Research Advisory Council, the answer is an astounding and conclusive "yes" founded on the data collected from more than six thousand traffic accident victims. It was discovered that victims with legal representation received a forty percent higher settlement than those who didn't consult with an attorney.
Moreover, the Insurance Research Council conducted another study that drew similar findings. It was concluded that:
- Eighty-five percent of all settlements paid by insurance companies were made to victims with legal representation.
- Victims with legal experts received compensations that were three times higher than victims without personal injury attorneys.
Pedestrian accidents can result in life-altering damages, and receiving compensation for your damages is essential to get your life back on track. However, determining who is accountable for the accident or the total compensatory amount can cheat you out of the compensation you deserve. That is the reason, it's recommended to engage a skilled personal injury lawyer. The attorney will:
Help You Determine Fault
Were you walking while texting? As a pedestrian, you have a responsibility to remain focused while on the road. An insurance adjuster may deny your personal injury claim on the basis that you were negligent.
Nevertheless, if the motorist was speeding, failed to stop, made an unlawful turn, or did not act within the scope of reasonable driving, then that doesn't make your pedestrian accident entirely your fault. Under comparative negligence rule, both parties share the accident's liability, and you could still receive compensation for your injuries.
How do you build your case without proof? Your attorney will use medical examinations, use witness testimony, collect evidence from the accident scene, and determine fault. That way, you can get the compensation you deserve.
Determine Your Total Compensation
Monetary compensation, like lost income and medical expenses, are easy to determine. If you are hurt in a pedestrian accident, you could seek compensation from the defendant's insurer. However, how do you place a price tag on damages like pain and suffering?
More often than not, the insurance companies will offer you a little payout, way less than the actual mental anguish and pain. A lawyer acquainted with the juridical system and personal injury laws will calculate how much you're entitled to and fight for compensation.
The Attorney will Negotiate with the Insurance Provider
As previously stated, insurance providers will attempt to offer you less compensation than you deserve. If the insurer offers you an initial offer before you have calculated the damages, you will likely be cheated.
The insurance provider will also contact you to discuss your case fact. If the insurance adjuster feels there are discrepancies in your side of the story, they could dismiss your case. Hiring a lawyer allows the legal expert to be the mouthpiece when speaking with insurers. The attorney knows what to avoid saying and what to tell the insurance firm.
Represent You in Court
If a settlement agreement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to trial. Any experienced pedestrian accident attorney will effectively represent your case to give you an opportunity to be awarded the compensation you deserve.
Give You Advice on the Next Steps
Following the pedestrian accident, there is a likelihood that you are uncertain of the next cause of action. Your competent attorney will determine what the next moves should be to collect evidence and get you a fair settlement. The attorney can develop strategies like using expert witnesses or arguing your case facts.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Near Me
From the above statistics, pedestrian accidents are one of the leading causes of severe injuries. An accident can leave you nursing spinal cord injuries, fractured bone injuries, traumatic brain injury, or even battling for life. Fortunately, you can access compensation for your injuries. The first step in fighting for your rights and receiving the compensation you deserve is speaking with attorneys at Clay County Personal Injury Attorney. Call us today at 904-494-8242 to learn how we can help you build your personal injury claim.