Among all the sections of traffic, pedestrians are the most vulnerable to accidents, especially at night when there is low visibility. And just like other accidents, liability for a pedestrian accident is based on negligence. If you sustain injuries in a pedestrian crash and the negligent party claims you are to blame for the collision, you need the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney for legal representation. Below we have discussed the common pedestrian accident injuries and the types of damages available.
Understanding Pedestrian Accidents
As per FSS 316.130(15), all car drivers will exercise due care to prevent collision with pedestrians or any other person propelling a human-powered vehicle. Also, the statute requires drivers to give a warning if need be or exercise proper caution when they see children, the elderly, or an incapacitated person in traffic. Pedestrian accidents happen mostly on sidewalks, crossroads, or along the road.
Just like drivers are expected to exercise due care, pedestrians are also required by the law to do the same for their safety. The exercise of reasonable care by the pedestrian should be proportionate to the danger. All non-motorist road users who fail to exercise moderate care risk getting their compensation amount reduced in the event of an accident during contributory negligence evaluation.
You, as a pedestrian, will be considered to have acted with negligence when you fail to use crossways, jaywalk, ignore signals at intersections, or dart into the road. Note, apart from vehicles causing these accidents, the road conditions can also be to blame for the crash. When that happens, you can sue the state or federal government in charge of the property.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Poor visibility and crossing at intersections are the significant causes of Florida pedestrian accidents. Other causes of these accidents include:
Drivers should always pay attention to the road and avoid anything that might get their eyes off the roadway, like texting or grooming.
Contrary to this, drivers use their phones while behind the wheel nowadays, risking the lives of pedestrians and other motorists. A pedestrian is likely to be hit by a car when crossing an intersection if the oncoming driver is texting or over the phone. Sometimes the distraction might be too much to the extent the vehicle veers off the roadway into sidewalks colliding with pedestrians.
Indecorous Use of Crossways
Busy roads have crossways that allow pedestrians to cross the road safely. At these points, traffic signals are available to indicate to pedestrians when they should pass or when motorists should yield the right of way. In the event a pedestrian or driver fails to observe these signals, the pedestrian might end up sustaining injuries.
Pedestrians also sustain injuries when intoxicated drivers get into the road. When a driver is impaired, he or she is likely to make a poor judgment, thus ending up hitting pedestrians.
Poor Maintenance of Crossways and Sidewalks
You might also end up sustaining pedestrian accident injuries if you use a neglected crossway. If a crossway is unmarked, drivers might not notice it hence end up colliding with a pedestrian. Poorly maintained parking space might also result in injuries on pedestrians.
Usually, drivers focus more on oncoming traffic and forget the pedestrians crossing the road, thus causing accidents. Pedestrians, at times, will fail to notice a car making a left-hand turn, thus resulting in an accident.
During storms, snow, or fog, cars can easily slide off the road, causing injuries to pedestrians. Also, when there are heavy rains, visibility is affected, which might result in motorists hitting pedestrians.
Forms of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents might occur in various ways. These are:
- Intersection Crashes
At intersections, cars are taking different directions or changing lanes, which results in pedestrian accidents.
- Hit and Run Accidents
These types of accidents occur when a driver hits a non-motorist road user and runs away from the scene of the crash without sharing information or checking on the injured party. Hit and run crash compensation are difficult to pursue because tracing the driver who fled might not be accessible if there were no eyewitnesses at the scene.
The Florida Crimes Compensation Trust Fund can compensate pedestrians who are injured in hit and run accidents as provided under statute 960.21. To qualify for this fund, you must report the hit and run accident within three days and file a claim within twelve months. The law of limitations for this crime can extend to twenty-four months under exceptional circumstances. The fund reimburses you for medical costs and pain and suffering endured after sustaining pedestrian accident injuries.
- Back-Over Accidents
These types of pedestrian accidents happen in parking lots when a driver is reversing and fails to see kids or people behind the car, thus causing injuries.
- Crashing Collisions
These are fatal pedestrian accidents. The victims are, in most cases, crammed between two cars, which often results in severe injuries and even at times, death.
Actions to Take After a Pedestrian Accident
Accidents happen so fast, leaving victims confused. If you are not severely injured, you should contact an emergency response team by calling 911 and seek medical treatment. If you are seriously injured, it is the emergency response team that will take you to the hospital. Then, get information from the motorist who caused the accident. Sharing information after an accident is essential because it helps you recover damages for your injuries if the motorist is at fault.
Also, it is good that you contact the police so that they can make a police report about the accident. While the police are assessing the scene of the accident, make sure to take videos and pictures of the place where the accident has occurred. Accident reconstruction experts rely on these videos and photos to reconstruct the scene and see what happened. Furthermore, remember to request a police report after they have made statements on what they have concluded about the accident. Police officers have specialized training that enables them to find out the cause of the accident after evaluating the scene and speaking to witnesses. If the police suspect the driver is under the influence, they will conduct a chemical test.
Where the driver of a vehicle stops after hitting you, make sure you record a statement. In most cases, drivers will feel bad about their actions and might apologize. If this happens, you can use the account where the driver apologized to show that he or she admitted fault. Besides getting a statement from the motorist who caused the accident, ensure to get comments from eyewitnesses at the scene. Contact information of the witness should follow their accounts. Doing so ensures that tracking the witness becomes easy in case they are needed to testify in court.
The other action you should take is reaching out to your insurer and informing them about the accident. If you have sustained injuries, they will take care of your medical bills. If you are not the party at fault, they will begin the process of seeking compensation for your injuries.
When seeking treatment, make sure you keep proper records so that it can be easy to show the expenses you have incurred. Again, ensure to keep good records of your injuries and any changes, including new symptoms that manifest after the crash. It is also essential to record your feelings and emotions when recovering from these injuries so that it can be easy to prove the kind of pain and suffering you went through because of the negligence of the at-fault driver. Recording your feelings and emotions helps in quantifying your pain and suffering, which increases the chances of a better reimbursement.
Be careful not to share your negligence with your insurer because they will use this against you in the event of a lawsuit. Instead, all the events that led to the accident should be shared only with your injury attorney.
If the insurer of the driver at fault tries to contact you and request you to make a deal, refer them to your attorney. The reason being the deal they put on the table is usually the lowest although they will try to convince you it’s the best you can get. It’s better to let your attorney handle all the matter of engaging with the negligent driver or their insurer.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
As mentioned earlier, pedestrians are highly susceptible to accidents with negligent motorists when walking or jogging along the road. Because of this, drivers and pedestrians need to understand the injuries that you are likely to sustain and be more careful on the roadways. Some of the typical pedestrian injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
These injuries occur when an outside force such as your head or body is hit by a car or hits the pavement causing the brain to dysfunction. Although some brain injuries are minor, others are severe and can result in substantial medical expenses.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A lot of pedestrians hit by vehicles suffer spinal cord injuries because of the sudden, traumatic blow that leads to the dislocation of the vertebrae or breaking of the spine. Keep in mind that the spinal cord transmits signals from the brain to other body parts. If the spinal cord is not working, the chances of being paralyzed are high. These injuries can also be life-changing because you might never get to walk again after the accident.
As a pedestrian, when you are involved in an accident, the physical force exerted on your bones by the car is stronger than the bones themselves, which results in broken bones. These injuries can cause a lot of pain immediately after the accident or even years later, which means they can affect your enjoyment of life. The good thing is that these injuries are treatable.
After a pedestrian crash, some of the physical forces can cause life-changing effects such as amputation of limbs. Amputation occurs in most cases where a bone or body parts like legs have been damaged beyond repair.
Soft Tissue Injuries
These injuries include bruises, lacerations, tears, and dislocations. They can quickly heal after minor medical interventions, but they are often very painful and can prevent you from engaging in your regular duties for months. Furthermore, bruises and lacerations can leave you with scars that can lower your self-esteem, primarily if they occur on your face.
You, as a pedestrian colliding with a car or any other motorized vehicle, can be a traumatic experience even if you don’t sustain any injuries. Many of the victims of these accidents find it challenging to cope with the emotional trauma after this near-death experience, especially if they don’t seek help from a counselor or therapist.
Many pedestrians who are hit by cars on the road end up losing their lives. The reason these accidents are fatal is because of the weight of the vehicle. If you are hit by a truck or heavy commercial car, the chances of survival are less compared to when you collide with a motorcycle. These accidents are also fatal because most pedestrians have no protection; hence when they are involved in an accident, the body acts as the barrier between the car and the road.
Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents
After sustaining the injuries mentioned above, recovering damages is paramount. But to do that, you must identify the party that is responsible for the accident. Both motorists and pedestrians have traffic laws that govern them on the road to ensure safety. Failure to abide by these laws is negligence, and it’s what results in crashes.
- Driver’s Duty of Care
Typically, the law requires motorists to exercise due or reasonable care under certain situations. Failure to exercise reasonable care under these circumstances is negligence. The law requires drivers to:
- Drive at a moderate speed based on the speed limit for the road, traffic, and weather conditions.
- Stay alert on the road to anticipate problems, avoid danger, and avoid injuring pedestrians.
- Maintain proper physical control over the car
- Avoid driving when intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol
Drivers also have a special duty to children aged between 5 to 9 years. Children at this age are small, which makes them less visible to drivers. Again, at this age, their judgment is reduced, making it challenging for drivers to anticipate what the child will do. Because of this, the law requires that drivers be extra careful when using the road near schools, recreational areas where kids play, or in residential areas.
Motorists contribute to accidents because of negligence by:
- Disregard of weather and traffic conditions
- Failing to signal when making a turn
- Distracted driving
- Driving under influence
- Pedestrians Duty of Care
Aside from requiring drivers to exercise caution on the road, pedestrians also have a role to play. They should exercise due care for their safety. The attention should be applied when crossing roadways or using intersections. The care required must be equivalent to the risk of danger you are avoiding. If you, as a pedestrian, failed to exercise due care, there would be contributory negligence assessment.
Pedestrians breach their duty of care when:
- They fail to observe the walk signal at an intersection
- They enter traffic and interfere with the flow
- They fail to use marked crossways
- They dart in front of a car
- The Right of Way of Pedestrians
Based on the signals and traffic laws, both drivers and pedestrians have the right of way. A party is at fault if they fail to yield, leading to an accident. A motorist should yield or give right of way to a pedestrian if:
- A pedestrian is entering a crossway, and the motorist has time to yield
- A pedestrian is in the same half of the road as the vehicle
- Pedestrians are approaching from the opposite side of the highway
- The traffic signal at an intersection indicates a time for pedestrians to cross
If you have sustained pedestrian accident injuries where a driver was supposed to yield but failed to do so, you can sue the driver for negligence. If you were unable to exercise reasonable care under certain circumstances and an accident occurred causing injuries, although you are allowed to seek compensation, contributory negligence will be assessed. The move might lower your amount of payment. Your percentage of fault will reduce the value of recoverable damages.
If you decide to pursue damages for your injuries after a pedestrian accident, you must prove the following:
- The defendant had a duty of care to you as a pedestrian
- The defendant violated his or her duty of care
- The actions or failure to act by the respondent caused the pedestrian accident
- The accident resulted in injuries on the claimant or a loved one
If you can prove the above elements, you will recover different compensations.
Types of Damages in Pedestrian Accident Claims
Some of the compensations you can recover from these claims include:
After a pedestrian accident, you are likely to suffer serious injuries. The injuries require regular medical attention, which comes with huge expenses. If the injuries cause permanent damage, the victim might need medical care for the rest of his or her life. As such, compensation for medical expenses seeks to help you recover past, current, and future medical bills stemming from the accident. When laying a claim for medical expenses, you have to provide medical receipts of your treatment.
If you are to receive compensation for future medical bills, the amount to be obtained depends on:
- The type of care you need
- The duration you will need the treatment
- The cost of future medical care expenses
Your doctor is usually involved in these decisions because he or she is the person who determines the additional medical care you need and the duration you will require the treatment.
Injuries from a pedestrian crash will prevent you from undertaking your daily activities, including work, thus leading to loss of wages. Compensation for lost wages seeks to reimburse you for the money you have not earned because of the injuries and the money you will not make in the future. Some of the aspects that will determine the value of lost wages you will receive include:
- Your age
- The money you used to earn before the accident
- Your future earning capability
- Your education and training
- The present ability to resume your daily activities or duties
Other damages you can recover from a pedestrian accident claim are:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of parental care and guidance
- Wrongful death compensation
- Mental agony
Wrongful death claims seek to cover funeral and burial costs. But if the victim received medical treatment for some time before death, these claims also cover medical expenses for the dead after the accident.
Apart from these damages that seek to make you whole again by paying you money, you can also pursue punitive damages to punish the negligent driver and discourage others from the same behavior.
Punitive damages are awarded where the driver was grossly negligent or malicious. If you can prove the driver hit you intentionally, you are likely to be awarded these damages. Gross negligence is when a driver behaves in conscious disregard of traffic laws and the safety of road users. Driving under the influence is one of the major causes of reckless driving. If the driver who caused your injuries was intoxicated at the time, you could pursue punitive damages because the driver was aware driving when intoxicated is risky, but he or she still drove, thus risking the lives of road users.
If you win these damages, you will receive three times the amount of total compensation or $500,000 either is higher.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you or a loved one has suffered pedestrian accident injuries, your life might change completely, especially if you incur unintended expenses. Compensation is going to ease your financial burden and make the transition easier, which is why you need to call Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney at 904-800-7557 to schedule a free consultation. We will help you recover damages for your injuries.