Pedestrian accidents are common in the state of Florida. Many of these accidents go unnoticed because several people opt not to report their incidents to law enforcement. Irrespective of this fact, studies have reported that over 70,000 pedestrians get injured, and over 4,000 die every year due to automobile collisions. Individuals that get in vehicle accidents as pedestrians are at a higher risk of severe injuries compared to the people inside the vehicle. This is because pedestrians do not have any outside protection, so their bodies take the entire effect of the auto’s force.
Any injury can be life-altering. That’s why every pedestrian in Florida must try to avoid them by all means. And if you sustain injury due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, you can bring a personal injury claim to get compensated for your loss. You need an attorney for your lawsuit to be successful and to get fair compensation. If you are in this situation in Jacksonville, talk to the lawyers at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney to help you with your case. Our deep understanding of the Florida personal injury law has enabled us to represent clients successfully and ensure they get what they deserve. This article talks about the causes of pedestrian accidents in Florida and factors that elevate these causes.
Rights of Florida Pedestrians
A pedestrian is considered as any person who uses the roadways or walkways, who aren’t inside a vehicle. These include:
- Runners or joggers
- Segway riders
- Roller skaters
In Florida, walkers generally have the right of way when crossing the road. Even if there’re no crossing signs at intersections, motorists are supposed to give way to walkers when they step into the crosswalks. However, a pedestrian can’t enter a crosswalk when it would amount to immediate danger. For instance, if a vehicle is already on the crosswalk, it isn’t a safe moment to cross the road.
On the other hand, walkers are supposed to yield the way to motorists if they’re crossing the roadway in a zone that does not have a crosswalk. In case a pedestrian darts or j-walks in front of approaching traffic, they may be held partly accountable if an accident occurs. And because the state of Florida follows the comparative fault law, the walker’s claim could be lowered by their degree of guilt.
If there’s a sidewalk, walkers should walk on it. Put otherwise; you cannot run or walk on the roadway if there is a sidewalk available for you. However, if there is no sidewalk, the law permits walkers to walk on the left-hand side of the roadway, facing approaching traffic. If you’re lawfully walking on the roadside and a vehicle suddenly swerves into you, you can file a personal injury claim.
Also, pedestrians have to enjoy the right of way on sidewalks. Motorists entering or emerging from an alley, private road, building, or driveway that has a walkway stretched across the entrance have to yield the right of way to walkers. For instance, if you’re walking on a sidewalk through your neighborhood that cuts across a driveway, cars entering or leaving must leave the way to you.
Motorists owe a duty of care to walkers and have to take additional precautionary measures with minors and debilitated people. Incapacitated individuals include the elderly pedestrians that are bound on wheelchairs and people that are intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. Florida law requires that motorists should honk their horns if necessary. This is to warn pedestrians of danger. The drivers also have to do all they should to prevent pedestrian collisions.
Common Spots Where Pedestrian Accidents Take Place
Florida is quite distinct because a majority of it is considered a vacation destination. With the high streaming in of tourists, particularly during the holidays and summer season, tourist zones are the most common areas for pedestrian crashes to take place. This is mainly true around the beach and tourist attraction areas.
Far from the tourist zones, other most common areas for pedestrian accidents to take place are in school zones and neighborhoods.
Contributing Factors to Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
Whereas a walker can be partially at fault in particular collision cases, the majority of crashes occur due to negligence on another person’s part. From drunk-driving to defective traffic signs, pedestrian injuries may be caused by several different forms of carelessness, and more often, these life-altering accidents are preventable. Pedestrians in Florida are at a given risk of sustaining injuries due to:
The state of Florida ranks third in population in the country. With more than 20 million inhabitants, this state is home to more individuals compared to New York. This creates vast traffic congestion as well as the day to day opportunity for individuals to make poor decisions like speeding, texting when driving, or drinking and driving.
The climate in Florida is favorable for outdoor activities all through the year, effectively doubling the possibility of bicycle and pedestrian traffic. When there are more persons on the sidewalks and streets at all times of the day, there is a higher chance that pedestrians and cars will collide.
Apart from millions of people residing in Florida State year-round, approximately a hundred million more come to visit every year. Tourists streaming into the south to be relieved from the snow and cold are released in unfamiliar areas, most of whom depend on passengers or GPS to navigate Florida highways. Motorists who get distracted or those that are not sure of traffic patterns will more likely cause accidents, particularly in places with increased pedestrian activity.
Lack of Sidewalks
Often, pedestrians get hit by vehicles while jogging or walking along the roadside. In most cases, there aren’t sidewalks in place for secure foot traffic, putting walkers at unnecessary danger. A pedestrian who is knocked over while biking or walking in these zones may file a lawsuit against the city government for their failure to construct walkways for walker traffic.
Gravel from road or sidewalk construction, potholes, or even the litter left lying on the road can make motorists swerve suddenly. This may lead to a crash with a walker that had the right of way. Additionally, Florida roads are continuously being constructed, leading to confusion because of detours and repeated changing of highway exits. In cases like these, pedestrians can seek to recover damages from the liable driver, Construction Company, road Maintenance Company, or any other party that’s accountable for the poor condition of the roads.
The Infrastructure of Florida Cities
A lot of people attribute the high rate with which pedestrian accidents occur to the infrastructure of the state’s cities. Most cities in Florida aren’t built with walker travel into consideration. Instead, they are constructed to quicken motor vehicle travels at the expense of secure pedestrian features like crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes, effective public transit, and pedestrian overpasses.
When it comes to development, the state is very spread out and flat. Cars are undoubtedly the preferred means of transport for a large part of the population to go to & from populated places sometimes hours away. These result in wider roadways and less development of public transit. By this, it means that walkers will need to cross roads several additional lanes in length and other times without any kind of crosswalk nearby to use. Jaywalking across several lanes is among the dangerous pedestrian crash causing behaviors in which a person can engage. Often, walkers will have few options to navigate through roadways where there’s fast flowing-traffic, which significantly elevates the chances of pedestrian death if an accident happens.
Intersections have proven to be the most common sites where drivers and pedestrians collide. Road designers are not always attentive to the pedestrian and bicyclists’ needs when they are planning routes for autos. This leads to sharp rises and blind corners that put pedestrians at unneeded risk.
Minors are at specific risk of sustaining injuries when hit by cars. Additionally, they are among the most probable population groups to get into accidents. Often, children are struck by school buses, municipal vehicles, and garbage trucks traveling on neighborhood streets. They also can be knocked over by neighbor drivers backing out of driveways. Or, they may dart in front of a vehicle while riding a bike. These accidents can lead to high medical expenses, a disability that may last a lifetime, and sometimes wrongful death.
Several other elements impact the occurrence of pedestrian crashes in Florida. Trucks and SUVs are particularly popular in the state, and they’re most likely to kill walkers in collisions. Also, there’s a lack of train or bus systems to effectively carry pedestrians to the place they intend to go like it is in other significant population centers in the country.
Common Causes of Florida Pedestrian Accidents
Several people embrace cycling and walking to reduce the carbon emissions to which they are exposed. While moving on foot has several limitless health advantages, it places cyclists and pedestrians at an elevated risk of being hit by moving vehicles. While there can be several ways in which pedestrians can get injured by auto, there are common ways through which these crashes occur. They include:
As we said earlier, the majority of car-pedestrian collisions take place at intersections. With the assistance of marked crosswalks, these crashes are drastically reduced. But, not all intersections are constructed with a signaled crosswalk. This makes it difficult for both motorists and pedestrians to know precisely when they may or may not cross.
Pathways that are marked are also critical for a walker’s safety. Mostly, a motorist would focus so much on finding a path or parking spot that he/she neglects to pay attention to the pedestrians passing by. Marked pathways make it easier for motorists and pedestrians to know the place to avoid or where they have to watch out for vehicles.
Even marked crosswalks are not immune to walker accidents. Left-hand turns are thrice more possible to strike a pedestrian compared to right-hand turns since making the turn forces both the driver and pedestrian to look somewhere else. In these cases, the walker will most probably be looking straight ahead, whereas the motorists will be focused on negotiating the intersection. This could lead to both of these parties failing to notice one another until it’s too late.
Most accidents (approximately 70% of all crashes) take place at night. This is because dark clothing is partly to blame, especially in zones that have poor street lighting to make it close to impossible for a driver to see the pedestrian attempting to cross the road. If you have to walk at night, wear bright clothes so that any motorist can easily notice you. You can even carry with you a flashlight, so you are more easily seen in the darkness.
Even though texting while driving and the use of other electronic devices have become the primary cause of vehicle crashes in general, walkers are also partially to blame. A recent study found that 8% of pedestrian collisions took place when the victims were using musical devices, cellphones, and other electronic devices. Using these gadgets makes the pedestrians not to know what is in their immediate surrounding and incapable of noticing nearby vehicles.
Alcohol or Drug Consumption
Alcohol consumption or the use of drugs is not just risky for the motorist, but also the pedestrian. That is why many crashes happen during the weekends and mostly at night compared to any other period. According to research, 37% of fatally harmed walkers had alcohol in their blood system. Even when you are a bit buzzed, you can still hurt your capability of judgments as well as the awareness of other people, including drivers. However, drunk or drugged drivers account for approximately 13% of hit motorist-pedestrian collisions too.
Poorly Maintained Crosswalks or Other Places the Pedestrians Use
If crosswalks are not taken care of properly, they will most likely lead to crashes. For instance, a crosswalk that isn’t marked increases the chances that the motorist will fail to notice it, resulting in a collision. Failing to maintain parking spaces may also lead to accidents.
Snow, fog, and storms are more likely to result in accidents. Snow and storms may make the roadway slippery, which makes it easier for autos to skid, losing control. Heavy rainfalls also lower the visibility on roads, which makes it possible for motorists to hit pedestrians.
Failing to Yield the Right of Way
As we said earlier, Florida law requires that autos entering intersections with yield or stop signs do so (yield or stop) at the line that’s marked. If there’s no marked line, the pedestrian should yield or stop before they enter the crosswalk or nearest point intersecting the road. If a motorist gets into a walker accident after driving past the yield sign without stopping, lawyers will term it as prima facie proof of the motorist’s failure to give way. This means the evidence is accepted as valid unless it’s proven otherwise.
Florida law (statute 316.130 (15) requires that every motorist exercises the duty of care to prevent collisions with pedestrians, and also to take precautionary measures when observing minors or any incapacitated or obviously-confused person.
Failing to Obey Traffic Control Devices
The law dictates the expectations of pedestrians and drivers when they encounter traffic control devices. Motorists who roll or run red lights or fail to yield for walkers that have right-of-way can be considered to be negligent.
Whereas most walkers are hit at 20 miles per hour or lower, those knocked over at speeds of 30 miles per hour or more are exponentially most likely to sustain severe injuries or even death. The law forbids driving at excessive speeds. It outlaws illegal speed. Illegal speed is defined as driving at speeds that are greater compared to the stipulated one. Drivers are required to keep in mind the potential and actual hazards when driving. This means that they should not only abide by the set speed limit but also take careful consideration of the surrounding conditions, like traffic flow and congestion, weather, construction, type of street, time of day, etc.
Tips on How Pedestrians Can Stay Safe
When you are out on the road as a walker, there are multiple things you could do that will help protect yourself. Whereas all accidents can’t be prevented, you could help avoid a few of the most known happenings by using these tips:
Don’t Dart Out between Vehicles
If you want to cross the road, you can do so at the intersection, at a selected crosswalk. If you cross at an intersection, you will be more visible to oncoming vehicles. You may also have the advantages of a road sign or stoplight. Using a crosswalk may also help you to see oncoming cars that might not be paying any attention to you.
Don’t always assume that you have got the right-of-way, even when you do. Florida pedestrian statutes that accord individuals the right to cross the roads and streets in given areas aren’t supposed to cause crashes. However, they usually do. Even when you have got the right to cross the roadway at a particular pedestrian area, ensure that the oncoming vehicles will, indeed, stop.
Put on Lighter Clothing during the Night or have a Flashlight with You
If you are cycling or walking around at night, ensure you are seen. Bright clothing or any type of light is recommended. Also, if possible, you can wear reflectors on your clothes.
Parking Lot Pedestrian Accidents
Walking and driving in park lots is a day to day occurrence for most people. Precautionary measures for pedestrians and motorists are usually taken for granted in these areas. Although drivers are generally going at low speeds, walker parking lot crashes are frequent and may lead to severe injuries and even death.
Pedestrians and drivers usually have a different mind-set as far as their behaviors are concerned in parking lots. Due to the closeness of walkers and vehicles, parking lots have proven to be the spot of several pedestrian crashes. Here are the various causes of pedestrian accidents in parking lots:
- Failure of the driver to look before backing out of a parking space
- Driver distractions, for example, use of cell phones or playing with the radio
- Pedestrian distractions, for instance, tending to children, using cellphones, talking with other pedestrians, etc.
- A motorist speeding through the parking lot
- Drivers pressing on the gas pedal accidentally instead of the brake pedal
- Motorists being focused on searching for parking spaces and not paying attention to pedestrians and cars
- Pedestrians and drivers assuming that either will notice the other
- Parking lots that do not have pedestrian crossings and walkways
- Pedestrians failing to use pathways when provided and, rather, weaving in-between parking spaces
- Traffic patterns in various parking lots may be confusing or poorly designed
- Walkers assuming a degree of safety that is not there in reality
What You Should Do After a Pedestrian Crash
If you have been harmed in a walker collision, you might face severe, life-altering injuries. You must seek expert legal representation from a personal injury lawyer immediately after the crash to defend your rights. Your lawyer will ensure that you receive all the medical care you need. He/she will also help you to negotiate a compensation package. The attorney will negotiate with the insurance company of the at-fault driver to come up with a compensation amount that will cover your medical costs both in the present and in the future.
Hire an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
If you are a pedestrian and have been knocked over by a vehicle, do not hesitate to seek to recover damages for the injuries you sustained. Receiving your deserved medical treatment after a crash can be expensive. It can drain all your savings and make you lose your income because of missed work. Here at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we are committed to ensuring you get the monetary compensation you deserve. Call us at 904-800-7557 as soon as you get into an accident for a consultation. We will evaluate your case, help you file a personal injury claim, and fight for you until your case settles.