Some of the most devastating injuries you can sustain are when you get hit by a moving vehicle. Cases of pedestrians getting hit by a car are prevalent in Florida. As a victim, you will suffer much damages as a result of the injuries that include medical bills, among others. You can get compensated for the losses you suffer in various ways that include your no-fault insurance coverage, the motorist’s no-fault coverage, or their auto liability coverage. If you are a victim of a pedestrian accident, our lawyers at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can assist you in seeking your rightful compensation.
Ways of Recovering Damages as a Pedestrian in Florida
As earlier stated, when you get hit by a vehicle, the damages you suffer as a result of the accident can be substantial. There are various ways in which you can recover these damages if you were involved in an accident as a pedestrian. These include:
Your PIP Policy
When it comes to auto insurance laws, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that if you are also a driver, you must have a minimum auto insurance coverage according to the law. This coverage is known as the Personal Injury Protection policy (PIP). The law makes it mandatory for a driver to have PIP coverage in a minimum of $10,000.
When you get hit, your insurance provider will pay for your losses, regardless of who was at fault. This coverage caters to the cost of treatment for your injuries and part of the wages you lose as you recover from your injuries. It is essential to understand that the amount of damages you recover depends on your policy limit.
If you do not own a car or drive, you can file a compensation claim on a policy belonging to a member of your family that lives in the same household.
Damages from the PIP Coverage of the At-Fault Driver
When you do not have a car or a PIP coverage, and no family member has, you can seek damages from the driver’s PIP coverage. The driver that hit you must have a PIP coverage that provides coverage to a minimum of $10,000. This coverage will cater to your injuries and a limited amount of lost wages. Most PIP coverage often covers the cost of small injuries sufficiently. However, when you sustain significant injuries, this coverage may not adequately compensate for the damages.
Legal Lawsuit to Recover Damages
The limits of most PIP coverage are low, yet most injuries sustained by a pedestrian are severe, while others are life-threatening. With PIP coverage, the policy hardly has sufficient cash to cover the cost of treatment and lost income. Additionally, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are not compensable under a PIP policy.
When you or a loved one were a victim of a pedestrian accident, you can sue the party responsible for covering the remainder of the damages as well as the non-economic costs. Talking to an experienced personal injury attorney is, however, critical in navigating the legal requirements of a lawsuit.
It is essential to know that the other party will not automatically accept liability and will also fight your claim in court. For this reason, your attorney will immediately start preparing your case to ensure you receive your damages. Some of the things he or she will do include:
- Investigate your pedestrian accident – When you get hit by a vehicle, it is common to believe that the driver is at fault. However, this is not always the case. Your attorney will investigate the circumstances of the accident to establish that the driver is responsible for your injuries. The court would not order the driver to pay for your damages if they were not responsible for your accident.
- Document evidence – Following an accident, you will require medical treatment for the injuries sustained. The cost of treating your injuries is essential to be documented because it is one of the high costs you will incur. Photos of the accident scene, as well as of your injuries, are critical in determining fault and establishing the amount you receive in non-economic damages.
- Working with experts – An experienced accident attorney knows the importance of having substantial evidence in a courtroom. For this reason, your attorney will work with experts such as the ones experienced in reconstructing an accident scene. These are crucial in giving testimony supporting that the driver is responsible for your injuries. Other experts will include doctors. A medical practitioner will testify on the extent of your injuries and the possible cost of injuries. He or she will also discuss the long-term consequences of your injuries, if any, or required medical care.
- Proving the driver’s negligence – Your lawyer must determine the driver’s negligence in court for them to be ordered to pay you damages.
- Document your other losses – When you are recovering from your injuries, your costs will not only be those of treating the injuries but other losses as well. For instance, if you lose your ability to work because of the accident, it means your future earnings are terminated. Your attorney understands how to calculate these costs and present them in the claim. Equally, your costs for the pain you endured and suffering are calculated and documented.
- Preparing an application – Before petitioning the court for your damages, your lawyer will first write to the insurance provider for the driver. The letter will be to notify them of your claim for damages, and he will be responsible for negotiating with them. Your attorney having your interests as a priority will discuss your application with the insurance adjuster to ensure the best compensation possible.
- Filing a lawsuit – As earlier stated, the driver or the insurance provider may decline to pay your damages or offer little benefit. In this case, your lawyer will file a petition in court to compel the driver or their insurance provider to pay you costs.
Available Damages to a Pedestrian in Florida
Aside from getting compensated for damages from the no-fault PIP coverage and its limited compensation, you can recover more damages following a lawsuit. Some of the damages you receive as a pedestrian include:
- Medical costs – Most pedestrians sustain significant injuries after getting hit by a car. The cost of treatment is often high and is compensable if you win your case. Every expense you incurred seeking treatment is included here. This consists of the cost of medication, doctor’s fees, cost of any procedures such as surgeries, and cost of diagnostics like X-rays or scans. These costs must be well documented to accompany your claim to the insurance provider or in court.
- Current and future care – Depending on the severity of your injuries, whatever care you require to get back to where you were before the accident is catered for. If your injuries required extended treatment or medical support for the rest of your life, the cost of that is factored in during your compensation suit.
- Lost wages – A win in your pedestrian claim suit will earn you compensation for your lost wages. This would refer to the amount you would have made if you were working instead of recovering from your injuries.
- Diminished capacity to earn – Most injuries pedestrians sustain from an accident is catastrophic. This means that they may not be able to work gainfully anymore, and they lose their capacity to earn a living for the rest of their lives. A lawsuit seeking damages will help you receive compensation for this, unlike recovering damages from PIP coverage.
- Expenses due to the accident – Aside from the obvious costs, there are other costs related to the injuries sustained. For instance, if you cannot drive anymore and must get a cab to take you to the hospital. The cost of the taxi and any other is compensated with a lawsuit.
- Pain and suffering – PIP coverage does not pay for non-economic losses. However, only people that suffer significant injuries in Florida can sue the responsible party for their damages. As such, when you have sustained severe injuries, you will go through a lot of pain as you get treated and recover from the injuries. The compensation laws recognize the pain you undergo and suffering and offer you compensation for that.
- Mental anguish – When your pedestrian accident is severe, it may leave you with devastating consequences that become psychologically frustrating. As a result, you suffer from mental pain when you realize you are not the same as before. When filing for a lawsuit to seek damages, this is also applicable for compensation.
- Wrongful death – When the impact of an accident leaves the pedestrian dead, it is considered a wrongful death in Florida. Your family, while suing for damages, can also demand to get compensated for your life. Various parameters are taken into account when calculating the amount in the wrongful death claim which your family lawyer can help with.
What a Pedestrian Must Prove to Receive Damages
Typically, most people jump to conclusions when a motorist hits a pedestrian. A driver hardly gets injured from a pedestrian accident while a pedestrian, in most cases, sustains severe injuries. This often leads to the misguided notion that the driver is at fault all the time. When a pedestrian sustains significant injuries that their PIP coverage or that of the driver is unable to cover the damages sufficiently, they go to court seeking more compensation.
If you are the pedestrian in question, the court will not automatically order the alleged at-fault driver to pay you damages. In all cases, the driver or their insurance provider is allowed to defend themselves against your allegations. For you to receive these damages, you must prove that the actions of the driver resulted in the injuries you sustained and the costs after that.
With the help of your lawyer, you must show negligence on the part of the driver. If you can show the driver’s negligent behavior resulted in the accident, then the court will award you damages. Your lawyer has, therefore, the burden of proving the various elements of negligence in your pedestrian crash to earn losses. These elements are:
The Driver Owed You a Duty of Care
This element determines that the careless or negligent driver had a duty to act safely under particular circumstances. Your lawyer can prove this element by referencing traffic statutes that require a driver to be alert while on the road at all times.
The Driver Violated the Duty of Care
When the actions of the driver fail to or violate the duty of care, an accident occurred that injured you. These actions include negligent driving, distracted driving, over speeding, violation of traffic signals or signs, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Driver’s Negligence Resulted in Your Injuries
Your lawyer must establish that the actions of the driver violated their duty to drive safely, resulting in the pedestrian accident you suffered. As a result of the accident, you sustained injuries. It is essential to understand that proving negligence alone is not sufficient to earn you damages. Your lawyer must convince the court that the negligent behavior of the driver is the direct reason for the accident and your injuries. For instance, if the driver was under the influence, there must be evidence of this. This can be obtained from the police when they carry a chemical test on the driver to establish the BAC levels.
You Sustained Actual Injuries
You cannot expect to receive damages when you never suffered any injuries. This element is easily determined by presenting pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and a medical report. Additionally, evidence of the economic costs you sustained, as a result, must be shown. Your lawyer will attach documented proof of your treatment like receipts for the medication, hospital bills, or doctor’s bills, among others.
Who Takes Responsibility for Pedestrian Injuries
Proving negligence is one of the most important ways of determining the party responsible for your pedestrian accident. In most pedestrian cases, the victim files a claim against the motorist or driver of the vehicle that hit them. However, many other entities could be held accountable for your accident. These include:
- The municipality – The responsibility of your accident can sometimes be shared with the city government. The accident may have been due to poorly placed crosswalks, faulty traffic lights, poor maintenance of the parking lot, or ineffective sidewalks, among other safety concerns. In such a case, the driver of the vehicle may not be solely responsible for your injuries. For instance, the traffic lights may have shown you that it was safe to cross. However, on the other side, the lights indicated that the driver had the right of way. When the lights are faulty, they can create confusion that would result in your accident. In this case, the local government that is responsible for ensuring the lights work correctly can also be held accountable.
- Product Manufacturer – Sometimes, the person responsible for making a particular product may be held accountable for your accident. For instance, if you were riding on a skateboard and it malfunctioned, it may have resulted in you veering into the way of traffic. This will result in you getting hit, despite the driver exercising caution. In this case, you can seek damages from the skateboard manufacturer under strict liability laws.
- Insurance Providers – Being a no-fault state, Florida pedestrian accident victims rely on their PIP coverage to receive damages for their injuries. If your coverage is exhausted and your losses still not covered, you can recover them from the driver’s PIP insurance coverage. Unfortunately, some insurance providers will decline to compensate you or may offer you little in damages. As a result, you can petition the court to order the insurance provider to pay your losses suffered.
- Another entity or person – Typically, a pedestrian should not enter the street from anywhere but must use a crosswalk. If you were hit because it was impossible to access the crosswalk, your claim might involve other parties that made it impossible to use the sidewalk. For instance, a cyclist may have pushed you from the curb, or a restaurant had their seats and tables block the sidewalk forcing you to walk on the road instead. Another example would be if a construction firm repairing a road failed to reroute the path used by pedestrians, but instead, let them use the road.
- Yourself – As a pedestrian, you may also be responsible fully or partially for the injuries you sustain. If you are partly to blame for your pedestrian accident, you can still receive partial compensation from the other party responsible for your damages.
Factors Affecting Liability in a Pedestrian Accident
Pedestrians often suffer more life-threatening injuries compared to persons protected by a car. Because of this, drivers in Florida are expected to take more precautions to avoid accidents or striking pedestrians. When an accident occurs involving a pedestrian, motorists are, in most cases, held accountable due to these laws.
However, there are instances when, as a pedestrian, you are also to blame for the accident. This makes it more challenging for you to receive damages for the injuries. Various factors can, therefore, affect a liability claim in Florida for a pedestrian.
Determining fault in a pedestrian accident is challenging because of the various factors affecting both the pedestrian’s and driver’s duty of care. Under this, all persons using the road, whether as drivers or pedestrians, must act responsibly, remain alert and obey traffic rules.
Some of the factors that can affect your liability claim when struck by a vehicle include:
- Crosswalks – As a pedestrian, you have a right to walk in a crosswalk provided the traffic light shows red, and the signal to walk is lit. All drivers must stop at the crosswalk and stay until you have finished crossing the road. If there is no crosswalk, drivers must stop as they approach the intersection. If the traffic lights show green, as a pedestrian, you must yield way to the vehicle and wait for the signal indicating it is safe to walk. If, however, you disregard these rules and cross the road when you are expected to yield to a vehicle, an accident, as a result, will have you partially responsible.
- Sidewalks – Along some streets, sidewalks are provided for the pedestrians to use instead of walking on the road. If a path is provided and you ignore it by choosing to walk along the road, you will be partially responsible for the accident if it occurs. Additionally, if there is no sidewalk, traffic rules indicate that you can walk on the road’s shoulder only, facing oncoming traffic. This makes it easier for you to avoid an accident when you can see the vehicles. However, if an accident occurs because you did the opposite, you may be held liable for your injuries and damages.
- Moving next to cars – If you are riding along the road, you must be traveling in the same direction as the other vehicles. You are also required to follow traffic rules, just like the motorists. If you disobey any of these rules and get struck by a car, you may be held partially responsible for the crash.
- Jaywalking – The law expects pedestrians to cross the road using only crosswalks or designated intersections. You must also ensure traffic from all directions has passed before you cross. Never assume that vehicles will automatically yield to you even when you have the right of way. When you carelessly cross the road, you may find yourself getting blamed for the injuries you sustain when struck by a vehicle.
- Impairments or disabilities – When a pedestrian is physically impaired or disabled, they may not be aware of all the possible dangers. These pedestrians also have challenges crossing the road compared to regular people. The law expects motorists to exercise extra caution, especially when the pedestrian is on a wheelchair, walker, has a cane or guide dog, among others. If you suffer from any impairment or disability, it must be made clear in your claim. In such a case, the driver may be held fully responsible for the injuries and damages.
Aside from the above, many things are considered before determining fault accurately in a pedestrian accident. You must assess the circumstances of your accident. Your actions and those of the driver, witness, as well as police statements are necessary as you seek damages.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Pedestrian accidents often lead to significant injuries that can exhaust the personal insurance coverage you may have. Seeking damages from the at-fault party can be challenging, especially when they decline the claim. An experienced attorney can seek these damages for you by either engaging the insurance company or filing a lawsuit demanding compensation. Our aggressive lawyers at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney work fast to ensure you receive your rightful damages. Call us at 904-800-7557 for an appointment to discuss your case.