Any person walking on foot in Florida can be a victim of a pedestrian accident. The worst part is that these accidents may result in severe injuries and, sometimes, even death. Injuries or death lead to unplanned expenses and unexpected pain & suffering that could change one’s life for the worse and forever. Pedestrian accidents don’t happen because the walker was automatically at fault. In most cases, it is the motorists who are to blame for it. And the good news is that you can hold the liable party responsible and make them compensate you for the damages and losses you incurred.
To do this, you need a skilled personal injury attorney by your side. The attorney will ensure you get the highest possible compensation amount by negotiating with the insurance company. At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we help pedestrian accident victims not only to file their lawsuits but also fight for them to ensure they get what they deserve. Contact us if you need help with your case. This article focuses on pedestrian accidents and how you can get compensation.
Overview of Pedestrian-Related Accidents
To describe pedestrians or walkers in simple terms, are people on foot instead of using vehicles to move around. Walkers are exposed to a high risk of suffering g injuries or even death every time they are on the roads. The elderly and children are the most affected parties in pedestrian crashes. This means that they are at a higher risk of sustaining severe injuries compared to middle-aged people. They are vulnerable because of their poor judgment and the inability to respond timely in case of a crash.
Right of Way Laws for Pedestrians in Florida
As stated in Florida’s pedestrian laws, any person on foot has to obey official traffic devices unless a law enforcement official directs them otherwise. Traffic devices include pavement striping, traffic signals, and traffic signs. Additionally, in case there is a sidewalk readily available, walkers shouldn’t use the road. However, if walkways aren’t there, or are under construction, the pedestrians should then use the space on the left-hand side of the road facing traffic.
While crossing the road, pedestrians:
- Must be controlled by traffic signals
- Are not permitted to move from the curb until traffic signals notify them to
- Aren’t supposed to yield the right-of-way to vehicles
- Have to keep to the right-hand side of the crosswalks
- Should cross the road using the shortest route or at a right angle (except in marked crosswalks)
- Are only permitted to cross the road intersection diagonally, except if they are authorized otherwise by the official devices of traffic control
- Aren’t supposed to cross between two intersections that are adjacent to each other, except when they’re in marked crosswalks
Why Pedestrian-Related Crashes Happen
After new motorists are through with Driver’s Education classes, they’re focused so much on their vehicles. When this happens, these drivers often neglect to mind about pedestrians or the different pedestrian rules that have been set to safeguard them. The most issue that Driver’s Education stresses is not hitting a person when driving. This may lead to overlooking the other pedestrian laws later when they’re driving, or driving recklessly. Therefore, a driver’s negligence and failure to observe the rules of the road is one of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents.
Apart from that, the negligence of the pedestrian himself/herself can also lead to pedestrian-related crashes. Poorly-maintained sidewalks, poor visibility, and crossing at road intersections, especially at night, also contribute to pedestrian crashes. Other causes include:
Improper use of crosswalks- The purpose of crosswalks is to provide walkers with a secure spot for crossing busy roadways. However, these crossways have signs or signals that notify pedestrians when they can cross and drivers when they have to yield the right of way to walkers. If the driver or pedestrian fails to obey these signs, it is more likely that a crash will occur.
Distracted driving- even the slightest distraction of the driver could lead to an accident. Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from driving is a distraction. Examples of driver distractions include texting, taking on your cell phone, eating or drinking, or being lost in thoughts when driving. While it’s not allowed to do any of these activities while driving, several motorists still endanger pedestrians’ lives and even their own by engaging in them. Distracted driving may prevent motorists from seeing pedestrians approaching, which may result in the driver hitting the pedestrian. In the worst-case scenario of distracted driving, a distracted driver may drive into a walkway and ends up crashing pedestrians.
Driving under the influence- Being intoxicated with drugs or alcohol impairs a motorist’s capability of making a correct judgment when driving. Also, it increases the likelihood of careless driving, which may lead to pedestrian injuries.
Adverse weather conditions- Snow, fog, and storms may lead to road crashes. Snow and storms may make the roads slippery. When this happens, it becomes easy for vehicles to skid then lose control. On the other hand, heavy rainfalls reduce visibility on the roads, increasing the likelihood of a driver hitting a person on foot.
Left turns- Making left turns contributes to accidents thrice more than making right turns. When turning to the left, most motorists focus on making that turn and on traffic that they may miss a pedestrian crossing. Additionally, the walkers will more likely fail to notice the oncoming car, which gets them knocked over in the course of the crossing.
Injuries You Can Sustain from a Pedestrian-Related Crash
Severe injuries can be sustained when a vehicle hits a person walking on foot. This is because pedestrians are not usually clothed in any protective attire when they come from home. Then, the forward force from the vehicle is transferred to the pedestrian, which causes him/her to be thrown several yards or feet away. When the walker lands to the ground, severe injuries are the results. Even worse, the fall may lead to death. The severe injuries you can sustain include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
- Loss of limbs
Categories of Pedestrian Crashes
Pedestrian accidents come in many forms. The common ones are:
Intersection accidents- An intersection is a common spot where a vehicle can easily hit a walker. This is because it is at this point that cars are moving in different directions or changing lanes, and motorists may fail to notice pedestrians. For instance, an accident at this point may happen when a walker is attempting to cross quickly in that his/her crossing is mistimed, and the motorist doesn’t have enough time to respond.
Dart-out crashes- Dart-out accidents take place when the walker darts out on the road suddenly, and the motorist doesn’t have adequate time to stop. This may not be the fault of the walker. However, this is only true if, for instance, the pedestrian was at a crosswalk and a stopped car had blocked the other motorist’s view that it only appeared as if he/she darted out on the road.
Passing accidents- Passing crashes take place when a negligently operating driver can’t see pedestrians since another vehicle like a bus has halted to allow the walkers to cross. Here, the negligent motorist may knock the pedestrian down while attempting to overtake the stopped automobile.
Vehicle turns & merge accidents- These types of accidents occur when a driver is much focused on merging into traffic or making a left or right turn. Often, motorists alternate between looking right and left and do not notice the walkers until when they start merging or making turns.
Back-up crashes- Back-up accidents happen when a motorist hits or runs over a walker while reversing the vehicle without looking behind the car first. These accidents mostly take place in parking spots.
Vendor accidents- Vendor accidents happen on neighborhood streets, for instance, when individuals are waiting around food trucks or minors running to catch ice cream trucks.
Crashing accidents- Crashing accidents happen when a walker gets sandwiched in-between two vehicles in a crash. These forms of collisions produce more deaths because of the impact the two automobiles will have on the walker.
What You Should Do After Getting into a Pedestrian Crash
Being in a crash can be a confusing experience that one wouldn’t know what to do after. However, you should remember that whatever you do after the accident plays a significant role in recovering compensation. It will determine whether you get compensated at all, the amount of damages, or if the damages should be increased or reduced. If you’re still conscious after the crash here is what you should do:
Seek medical care
After the accident, you should go to the nearest hospital and have your injuries looked at even if they are not severe. Your health is more important, and those injuries that seem minor may be problematic in the future. Therefore, it is good for them to be contained in an early stage. Seeking medical attention will also help you in recovering damages. This is because the insurance company will want to see your medical report. It helps them to determine the extent of the injuries, how much you used, and how much is still needed to pay for the medical bills. Therefore, you must keep your medical records organized to clearly show the cost you incurred for the treatment of your injuries.
You should gather information about the driver who knocked you over, including their names, registration of their car, license plate number, contact info, etc. If they were to blame for the crash, then they should be held accountable for your damages and loss. You can collect info about the accident by taking photos or recording videos of your injuries and the accident scene. Evidence is critical as it helps experts to reconstruct the accident scene. Also, you may request the police documentation of the crash. It usually contains all the details, including the likely cause of the crash and when it took place. Also, keep the contact information of any witnesses on the scene in case you will want to reach out to them.
Do not admit fault
After the accident, the driver may pressure you to accept that it was your mistake that led to the accident. No matter what the driver says, do not agree that you were at fault. Wait until your attorney arrives to take up the issue and let liability be determined in court. Also, do not say to the motorist anything that may incriminate you since he/she may use it against you. For instance, do not even apologize for the occurrence of the accident.
Do Not Deal With the Insurance Company By Yourself
Don’t discuss anything with the insurance company of the motorist without your attorney present, including signing any document they give to you. Note that insurance providers are in this business to make profits. Thus, providing them with information you shouldn’t, gives them ammunition to use against you should you bring a claim to court. Share all the information you have with your personal injury attorney, who will then deal with the insurance company.
Liability in Florida
The question most people ask is what will happen in case a driver and walker are both to blame for a crash. For instance, a pedestrian may have dashed into vehicle traffic at a spot meant for walkers, and there weren’t walking lights. Then, it happens that at that time, a motorist was approaching, and he/she didn’t have adequate time to hold his/her breaks and ends up hitting the pedestrian. In this case, both parties may be held responsible for the accident. What is to be done in this kind of situation?
First, what you should understand is that Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that even when an individual is 99% at fault for a crash, he/she can recover damages for that 1% for which he/she wasn’t liable. A judge will scrutinize the situation then apportion liability between the involved parties depending on the specific facts surrounding the case.
Determining liability isn’t always easy in pedestrian accidents. Your attorney needs to investigate to determine what party he/she will sue. In most cases, the at-fault parties in pedestrian accidents include the motorist, the vehicle manufacturer, state/city, and the pedestrian himself/herself.
Damages You Can Recover in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Once you file a personal injury lawsuit after a pedestrian accident, there are several damages you can recover. There are two types of damages in a personal injury claim, compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are further divided into two, economic and non-economic (general damages).
Economic damages refer to the compensation you get due to monetary losses you suffered as a result of the accident. They include costs for:
Pedestrian-related crashes result in severe injuries in many cases. These injuries need regular medical attention, which could be expensive. You may need to use a lot of money and time to recover. Damages for medical bills cover past, present, and even future medical costs you incur due to the crash. You will need to show receipts of your past treatment as proof so that you can be compensated. The amount you receive for future medical costs is determined after the court evaluates:
- The kind of medical attention you need
- The estimated period you will require for the treatment
- The estimated cost of future medical treatment you need
- Lost wages
In case a crash impairs your capability of returning to work, which then results in a substantial loss of income, you could be compensated for the lost amount of money. The liable party will be required to compensate you for the money you would‘ve earned were it not for the accident. The various elements that will determine the amount you will receive for lost wages are:
- Your age
- What you used to make before the accident
- Your education or training
- Your current ability to return to your past duties
Other economic damages include:
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Permanent or temporary disability
- Costs related to replacing or repairing damaged property
- Out-of-pocket expenses
You can also refer to non-economic damages as general damages. These types of damages cannot be quantified. This means they can’t be easily determined since they are not backed by receipts or bills. General damages compensate for intangible or non-monetary losses. Examples of these damages include:
Pain & suffering
The effect the crash has on you can be described by the pain or suffering you go through. The pain could be physical, emotional, or mental due to the injuries you sustained. In certain cases, the pain may even be permanent. It is challenging to prove pain & suffering in court. Thus, you need to collect enough proof that will persuade the jury that you went through substantial pain or suffering, mainly if it’s not evident.
To help you prove this, you may document the pain and suffering you experience from when the accident took place. You can then present these records to court as proof. Additionally, inform your physician about any pain you feel so that he/she determines whether or not it is due to the accident.
Loss of consortium
You can also seek compensation for loss of consortium between you and your spouse or family. For instance, you may sustain incapacitating injuries that affect your relationship with your spouse or family members. In this case, you can seek damages for loss of consortium.
A crash can cause you or the members of your family to have mental anguish. The accident may change your life and even your state of mind. The physical, emotional, or psychological pain you experience can lead to mental anguish. It is only fair to be compensated for mental anguish since it assists you in transitioning into a new living where you have to put up with the repercussions of the crash.
Other non-economic damages include loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress.
In Florida, punitive damages for personal injury cases are awarded for disciplining the liable party and as a warning to others not to engage in negligent behavior. These kinds of damages are rarely awarded. They will only be granted if you can establish that the motorist was malicious, grossly careless, or acted with intentional misconduct. There is a cap regulating punitive damages. If you were to be compensated, then you will receive $500,000 or three times the amount of economic and general damages added together, whichever is greater.
Damages for Wrongful Death
In an unfortunate case, it is more likely that a pedestrian will pass away after an accident because of the vehicle’s impact on his/her body. If a pedestrian dies, his/her family members can seek to be compensated for the wrongful death. Damages for wrongful death are granted to the spouse or dependents of the late. Wrongful death damages include:
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Medical expenses before the victim passed away
- Loss of parental guidance and care
- Lost wages
- Pain & suffering
Statute of Limitations for a Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Claim
A statute of limitations refers to the timeframe an injured victim is allowed to file a personal injury claim. Florida law provides that injured pedestrians file their claims within four years from when the accident took place. And if the accident led to death, then the victim’s family members have only two years from when the death occurred to bring their lawsuit to court.
Waiting too long before you can file your case may make it hard for your attorney to gather the necessary proof to support your claim. Ensure you talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as the accident happens to stand a better chance of winning your case.
Get a Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Pedestrian-related accidents alter people’s lives since no one plans for it for when it happens. For one, you will have to spend a lot on treating your injuries and trying to adjust to the new state of your life. In cases where these accidents cause death, families are left devastated. Being compensated may not bring things back to where they were. However, it may help you to transition to your new life quickly and ease the monetary burden on you and your family. Therefore, it is only fair that the liable party takes responsibility and pays you for the loss and damage he/she caused you. You need an attorney to help you receive your rightful compensation. If you are in Jacksonville, Florida, contact Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney at 904-800-7557 for help with your case,