When pedestrian accidents occur, pedestrians are often at a higher risk of suffering from severe injuries. For instance, if a pedestrian gets into an accident involving a vehicle, he/she is likely to suffer more injuries than the vehicle occupants. Unlike the people in a car, a pedestrian does not have outside protection. This means that when an accident occurs, the pedestrian's body takes the full impact. If you suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, you can seek compensation for the damages sustained in line with Florida's personal injury laws. Clay County Personal Injury Attorney assists people who have suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident due to the negligence of another party to seek compensation.
Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
Many people choose walking instead of driving for various reasons. Some people may decide to walk to cut down on their carbon emissions, and others may choose to walk for enjoyment. Walking offers a wide range of health benefits; however, it places accidents at risk of encountering accidents.
Particularly in the State of Florida, pedestrian accidents are prevalent due to several factors. Pedestrians may be partly at fault for some pedestrian accidents. However, the majority of pedestrian accidents occur due to negligence of another party other than the pedestrian. Pedestrian accidents may happen due to drunk driving and malfunctioning traffic signs. Most pedestrian accidents are preventable if various road users would exercise their due duty of care.
Some of the reasons why Florida is prone to pedestrian accidents include:
Good Climatic Conditions
Florida is a sunny state, and people enjoy outdoor activities all year-round. This means that many people enjoy walking to experience sunshine. The state has high pedestrian traffic. On any given day, you are likely to find numerous people walking on the streets and the sidewalks. The elevated pedestrian traffic increases the likelihood of collision between people and vehicles.
The State of Florida is the third-largest state in the U.S. The state attracts numerous settlers, due to its favorable weather, making it home to more people than other large states like New York. When making retirement plans, most people choose Florida as the ideal place to settle. With its dense population, the likelihood of pedestrian accidents is great because of the human traffic in the streets.
Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Every year, many people from across the globe visit the sunny state. The state is already densely populated with its residents. The tourists only make the situation worse. Most tourists enjoy navigating the highways as they enjoy the great weather. When tourists hire vehicles to tour the various tourist attractions, they may not be familiar with the streets and the traffic patterns. The tourists may end up colliding with pedestrians leading to accidents.
Debris on the Roads
Pedestrian accidents may occur due to poor road conditions, which make people lose control of their vehicles and end up colliding or hitting pedestrians. In Florida, it is common to find highways under construction. These highways often have gravel from the construction crew and litter on the roads.
If a pedestrian accident occurs due to loose gravel on the road, the vehicle driver may not be entirely to blame for the accident. Even if the pedestrian may seek compensation from the at-fault driver, the road maintenance company may also be liable for the accident. Any party responsible for the poor road conditions may be at fault in the pedestrian accident and may have to compensate the victim.
Lack of Sidewalks
In Florida, pedestrian accidents may occur in areas that do not have sidewalks. A vehicle may strike a pedestrian who is walking or jogging on the side of the road. Lack of sidewalks places pedestrians at risk of accidents. Sidewalks enhance safe foot traffic because pedestrians can keep a safe distance from vehicle traffic. The state or the city government may partially be to blame for pedestrian accidents for failing to construct sidewalks for pedestrians.
Most pedestrian accidents in Florida occur at hazardous intersections. It is common for drivers to collide with pedestrians at intersections. When planning routes for vehicles, road designers may fail to pay attention to the needs of the pedestrian, and this increases the risks of accidents. For instance, sharp rises and blind corners often place pedestrians at unnecessary risks.
Accidents Involving Children
A significant number of pedestrian accidents in Florida involve children. Vehicles traveling down the neighborhood streets may end up hitting children who may be playing on the streets. Children mainly get into accidents with garbage trucks, municipal vehicles, and school buses. Children may also get into accidents with neighbors who may be reversing from the driveways.
Different types of pedestrian accidents often result in high medical bills while seeking treatment for the injuries. The victim may also suffer disabilities, which may last for a lifetime. In the case of a catastrophic pedestrian accident, wrongful death may occur.
If you or a loved one gets into a pedestrian accident, the parties at fault may be quick to deny responsibility. You need to have an aggressive personal injury attorney who can help you come up with a good personal injury case.
Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents may occur due to a wide range of factors. However, most accidents mainly happen due to the negligence of vehicle drivers. There are various ways in which a vehicle driver can be negligent. Pedestrian accidents occur due to excessive speed and reckless driving. Rolling stops and failure to stop at an intersection may also lead to a pedestrian accident.
Poor design and maintenance of an intersection may also lead to a pedestrian accident. If a driver engages in distracted driving or drunk driving, he/she may accidentally hit a pedestrian. A vehicle driver may engage in distracted driving by operating a vehicle while eating. It is also common for drivers to speak on phone or text while driving, and this may lead to a pedestrian accident.
Pedestrian accidents involving children may occur when a driver negligently passes a stationary school bus or drives in a school zone without looking out for children.
In the context of Florida law, a pedestrian is any person who may be using the roadway or walkway and is not in a vehicle. Therefore, pedestrians include walkers, bicyclists, runners and joggers, roller skaters, segway riders, and skateboarders.
Factors that Increase the Risk of Pedestrian Accidents
Certain factors may increase the occurrence of pedestrian accidents. Some of the leading risk factors include:
Poorly Marked or Unmarked Crosswalks
The majority of vehicle-pedestrian collisions in Florida occur at intersections. Properly signaled crosswalks can help to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents significantly. A poorly marked or unmarked crosswalk makes it hard for both the pedestrian and the vehicle drivers to know when to cross.
Marked crosswalks make it easy for both the driver and the pedestrian to know the areas to avoid. Motorists also tend to be more attentive and focused while operating on a marked crosswalk. However, with an unmarked crosswalk, drivers may be busy seeking pathways and parking spaces and end up colliding with pedestrians.
Presence of Left-Hand Turns
Even if a crosswalk if well signaled, it is not immune to pedestrian accidents. A pedestrian accident is more likely to occur in areas with left-hand turns than in regions with right-hand turns. At this intersection, the pedestrian is likely to be facing and walking straight ahead. However, motorists may be focusing on negotiating an intersection. Both the pedestrian and the motorist may not be aware of each other, and this may lead to a collision.
The use of electronics by motorists and pedestrians may increase the risk of pedestrian accidents. In case of an accident due to electronic use, both the motorist and the pedestrian may be to blame. A pedestrian accident may occur when a pedestrian is listening to music on earphones. If a person has headphones on, he/she may not be aware of the surroundings and may not be able to notice the nearby vehicles.
Electronic use by a motorist may also be hazardous. For instance, a driver may be adjusting the radio on his/her vehicle and fail to notice pedestrians. A driver may also be talking on the phone or texting while driving, making him unaware of nearby pedestrians.
Poor visibility may escalate the risk of pedestrian accidents. Most pedestrian accidents normally occur at night. An accident is likely to occur if a pedestrian is wearing dark clothing, which may not be easy for a vehicle driver to notice.
A pedestrian should wear bright clothing at night, especially if he/she plans to walk. You may even wear reflective clothing to make you easily visible to motorists. A pedestrian may also bring along a mini flashlight to make him/her easy to spot in the dark.
Alcohol use by both a vehicle driver and a pedestrian may increase the risk of pedestrian accidents. Most pedestrian accidents in Florida occur at night and on weekends because people tend to drink more during these periods.
Drunk driving on the side of the driver is an act of negligence and may make the driver liable for the accident. Alcohol impairment lowers a driver's ability to make a sound judgment on the road. Alcohol may also impede the ability of a driver to know about the presence of pedestrians, and this may lead to an accident.
A pedestrian accident related to alcohol may also occur due to alcohol use by the pedestrian. Most pedestrians involved in an accident typically have traces of alcohol in their system. If a pedestrian was intoxicated at the time of the accident, he/she might be partly to blame for the accident. However, even if you are partly to blame for the accident, you should not shy away from seeking compensation. You may still receive compensation less your degree of fault.
Pedestrian accidents are likely to occur due to poor weather conditions. For instance, the risk of an accident increases when it is rainy or snowing. If a vehicle driver fails to slow down to a safe speed in extreme weather conditions, a collision may occur. It may be hard for a driver to spot a pedestrian amidst fog or the rain. Slippery or slick roadways may also increase the risk of an accident during rainy seasons. When the road is slippery, a driver may not be able to slow down on time after spotting a pedestrian.
Most tragic pedestrian accidents occur in residential areas. Vehicle owners may back-up their vehicles over a pedestrian they cannot see. While backing up in the parking lots, pedestrian accidents may occur, especially amidst heavy traffic.
Backing -up accidents mainly occur due to the negligence of vehicle drivers. However, accidents may also occur due to negligent pedestrians. For instance, a pedestrian may engage in distracted walking or indulge in alcohol.
Disobeying Traffic Signals
A pedestrian accident may occur when a driver ignores traffic signs and signals. Florida law requires all drivers to adhere to traffic signals. If it is evident that a driver ignored traffic signals leading to a pedestrian accident, the driver may be liable.
Establishing Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
When a pedestrian suffers injury in an accident, he/she may be able to recover damages for the injuries he/she suffers due to the negligence of another person. Negligence refers to the act of failing to act the way a reasonable person would have acted under similar circumstances. You may be able to recover damages regardless of whether the accident occurred due to a vehicle or poor road conditions.
To be able to recover damages in a pedestrian accident, it should be evident that the defendant acted negligently. Therefore, you have to prove the various elements of negligence to show that the defendant is liable.
It should be evident that the driver owed you a duty of care under the circumstances. This element might be easy to prove, especially if the accident involved another road user like a vehicle driver. Under Florida law, a driver owes a duty of care to other road users, including pedestrians.
You should prove that the defendant breached his/her duty of care through his/her actions or omissions. It should be evident that the plaintiff's breach of his/her duty of care was a leading factor in causing your damages.
There may be several defendants in a pedestrian accident. The common defendants are vehicle drivers and entities responsible for constructing and maintaining roads in good condition.
Special Duty of Care to Children
Children between the age of 5 years and nine years are more prone to pedestrian accidents in Florida. Small children are short, and this makes them less visible to vehicle drivers. Children are also unpredictable and may jump on to the road when least expected.
The law requires vehicle drivers to exercise a higher duty of care in areas that have small children. For instance, a driver should exercise extra care while driving past areas frequented by children, including playgrounds, residential areas, and schools. Pedestrian accidents involving small children may have more significant consequences than a collision with adult victims.
Pedestrian Accidents Due to Poorly Maintained Premises
A pedestrian accident may occur due to poor maintenance of the premises. For instance, a pedestrian may slip and fall on pavement due to the poor maintenance of a building. Premises liability may result due to accidents and damages related to the actions or negligence of property owners or possessors. Some pedestrian accidents are non-vehicular related.
The owner or the person in control of a property has a legal duty to ensure that their property is safe. If a premises poses risks of any kind, it is the responsibility of the premises owner to warn people of the imminent hazards.
If you suffer injuries in a premises liability case, you have to prove that a dangerous condition existed at the time of occurrence of the accident. You have to prove that there was something on the premises that presented an unreasonable risk to people. For instance, if you slipped on a pavement while walking on the streets, you may point out that the pavement was slippery, and the premises owner had not issued any warning on the hazard. The premises should have presented an unreasonable risk to the public, and the risk should not be obvious.
For a pedestrian to recover damages in a product liability case, it should be evident that the property owner created the condition. The property owner should have known that the condition existed but ignored or failed to correct the hazardous condition. The hazardous condition should have existed for a considerable period for the premises owner to have discovered the condition and corrected it before the accident occurred.
It is important to note that premises liability may only apply if a pedestrian accident occurs on private walkways. If an accident occurs on a public sidewalk, a property owner is not liable even if the pavement is situated outside his/her premises. If a premise is under the ownership or control of the state or town council, liability cannot apply to private property owners.
What to do After a Pedestrian Accident
When a pedestrian accident occurs, the defendant may try to blame you for the accident, even when you are not at fault. Most defendants always deny responsibility. The steps you take after involvement in a pedestrian accident in Florida will determine your likelihood of getting compensation. Some of the steps you should take after the accident include:
Calling the Police
If you are not severely injured and you are in a position to call the police, it is important to do so immediately after the accident. The police can help to collect valuable evidence, which your injury attorney may use to come up with a strong case. The police will draft an official report outlining the facts of the accident. You can always use the report to prove what happened at the scene of the accident. If you are not in a condition to call the police, you may request another person to call the police for you.
Avoid Leaving the Accident Scene
After a pedestrian accident in Florida, you should not leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive. However, if you are severely injured, you may leave the scene to seek medical treatment. You should ensure that you leave your contact details with the other parties involved in the accident. Ensure that you gather some evidence from the accident scene. For instance, you may request another person to take photos of your injuries and the accident scenes.
Get the Contact Details of the Witnesses
When a pedestrian accident occurs, witnesses may gather around the scene of the accident. When the police arrive, and the crowd disperses, you may not be able to re-access the witnesses. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that you gather the witness details, including their phone numbers. Your injury attorney will have an easy time contacting the clients and requesting information about the pedestrian accident.
You should also gather information on the defendant. For instance, you may note down the vehicle registration number of the defendant if the pedestrian accident involves a vehicle. You should also note other important details like the vehicle color and model.
Avoid Exchange of Information
After getting involved in a pedestrian accident, you should avoid exchanging information, especially with the defendant and the insurers. Do not apologize even if you feel you may be partly to blame for the accident. Apologizing may be a sign of admitting fault and may make the other party think that you are liable even when you are innocent.
It is also advisable to avoid explaining your injuries to the insurance company. Even if you feel as if your injuries are not serious, you should not disclose the details to the defendant or the insurance company.
Instead of disclosing information, contact your injury attorney. The attorney may have handled numerous cases in the past. He/she is better placed to deal with insurance companies and defendants.
Find a Clay County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After a pedestrian accident, contacting an attorney increases your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. Clay County Personal Injury Attorney assists victims of pedestrian accidents to seek compensation. Contact us at 904-494-8242 and talk to one of our skilled attorneys.