Pedestrian Accident Attorney in Pensacola
Many people take advantage of our ideal year-round climate in Florida to spend time walking outdoors. Whether it’s for exercise, to save gas money, or just for relaxation, walking is good for your health and friendly to the environment. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a dangerous thing to do as well. Motorists sometimes don’t see pedestrians when they’re driving around. Pedestrians can also contribute to their own injuries by walking after drinking or using drugs, failing to use crosswalks, and other common errors.
Florida law holds both drivers and pedestrians accountable for avoiding accidents. Drivers of any type of motorized vehicle must do the following:
- Avoid driving while distracted or intoxicated.
- Stop for a pedestrian and yield the right-of-way when he or she steps into the same portion of the roadway, whether this occurs at a controlled intersection or not.
- Bring the vehicle to a complete stop when a school bus extends its stop sign or when a crossing guard holds out a flag. The driver must remain stopped until all children existing the bus or crossing the street have made it safely to their destination.
- Stop and yield the right-of-way when a pedestrian approaches from the other side of the road and clearly intends to cross the street.
- Stop or slow down before attempting to pass another vehicle until the driver can see whether the driver in front of him or her stopped to give a pedestrian enough time to get across the street.
Although pedestrians have the legal right-of-way at uncontrolled intersections and at controlled intersections with a walk signal flashing, they must also exercise caution to avoid a vehicle striking them. This includes the following behaviors:
- Walk towards traffic or on the left side when a street doesn’t have sidewalks.
- Always avoid crossing in the middle of the street by using crossing lights at controlled intersections or the closest natural crossing spot at uncontrolled intersections.
- Avoid walking diagonally across a street unless a traffic control device allows this.
- Avoid walking into the path of an approaching vehicle if this would create an obvious safety issue.
- When attempting to cross the street at a marked crosswalk, pedestrians shouldn’t cross two or more linking intersections to do so.
- Give drivers the signal to pass first when waiting at an unmarked crosswalk or when taking steps outside of lane markings.
Regardless of the circumstances of the accident, a driver must stop and attempt to render aid if he or she strikes a pedestrian. Leaving the scene could result in a criminal charge of hit and run.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Inattention, ignorance or disregard of the law, and impaired driving are some of the most common reasons for pedestrian accidents. Specifically, some of these causes include:
- Distracted driving, which can include talking on a smartphone, sending a text, eating, attempting to operate a mapping system, changing the radio station, applying make-up, or turning attention to the passengers in the car or what is taking place outside the vehicle.
- Proceeding through an intersection due to not recognizing that pedestrians use it as well.
- Driving under the influence of intoxicating substances.
- Failure to slow down at an intersection.
- Failing to wait for a pedestrian to reach the other side of the road before initiating a turn.
- Not stopping at a traffic light or stop sign.
When a pedestrian causes or contributes to an accident, some of the typical reasons include walking while impaired, wearing dark-colored clothing, paying more attention to a smartphone or music coming through headphones, and crossing in the middle of the street.
Florida Ranks Highest for Pedestrian Accidents in the Nation
Sadly, Florida ranks first as the state with the highest number of pedestrian accidents. In 2016, a pedestrian safety advocacy group called Safe by Design discovered this statistic after conducting a nationwide survey. It focused on metropolitan areas as well as the state overall. In addition to its ranking as an unsafe state for pedestrians, nine of the 15 worst metropolitan areas for pedestrians came from Florida. These include:
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers
- Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
- Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach
- Lakeland-Winter Haven
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater
These metropolitan areas ranked first through seventh while North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton came in 10th and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach came in 11th. In 2017, approximately 600 of the 5,000 pedestrian deaths nationwide happened in Florida. Many thousands more pedestrians received serious or life-threatening injuries.
Your Life Can Change in Seconds
It’s far more likely that the pedestrian will die or receive a significant injury than the driver of a truck, bus, car, or motorcycle simply because the former has nothing surrounding him or her to offer protection. The priority in any type of crash is for the injured people to received prompt medical attention, whether they were the driver or passenger in a vehicle or a person on foot.
Those who survive a pedestrian accident may face permanent paralysis, a long recovery from brain injury, burns on a large percentage of their body, broken bones, and other serious injuries. It requires significant financial resources for accident victims to obtain the medical care they need as well as continue to pay their living expenses when they can no longer work.
Liability For Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
The damages as a result of pedestrian accidents are compensated on the basis of the degree of fault of all parties. Pedestrians that are injured because of another person’s negligence are entitled to claim complete compensation for the injuries caused.
In relation to this, it’s essential to understand that Section 768.81 of the Florida Statutes doesn’t stop a pedestrian from claiming compensation even if they share a part of the blame for the accident.
You may qualify for obtaining compensation from the following if you are a victim:
- PIP (Personal Injury Protection) benefits: You may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 from your car insurance policy as part of PIP benefits. The driver’s insurance company can be made responsible for paying PIP benefits if the victim doesn’t have an auto policy.
- UM/UIM benefits: These benefits apply when the driver doesn’t have adequate insurance or their insurance doesn’t allow for obtaining additional benefits. It also applies if the driver fled from the scene of the accident. In scenarios of this kind, the victim needs to claim compensation from their own insurance company.
- Additional damage: You can claim additional damages if you can prove the driver was negligent and the compensation amount exceeds the available PIP benefits.
You would need to prove that the duty owed to you as a pedestrian was breached to successfully prove negligence was involved. You would also have to prove that the breach of duty led to your injuries.
You Have Legal Rights as the Victim of a Pedestrian Accident
Florida has one of the more generous statute of limitations when it comes to filing a personal injury claim. You have four years from the date of the accident to do so. The law recognizes that some injuries may not be apparent right away, such as living with the long-term effects of brain damage.
A successful lawsuit provides you with funds to pay your medical expenses, make up for your lost wages, and replace any damaged property you had on your person. You could also receive financial compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life. We invite you to contact Whibbs, Stone & Burnett, Attorneys at Law, at 850-500-1111 to request your free legal consultation. This is your opportunity to learn more about the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit as well as determine if it’s in your best interest to do so.