Nearly twelve pedestrians are struck and killed by cars every day in the United States, and Florida is one of the highest states in the nation for the most traffic-related pedestrian deaths. Florida’s temperate climate provides ideal year-round walking conditions for tourists, snow birds, and its ever increasing population. Combine this with the fact that Florida has the third largest population in the U.S., and it is not surprising that in 2016, there were over 8,000 accidents and 500 pedestrian fatalities in Florida.
A pedestrian is anyone who is traveling by foot, which includes a person on a skateboard, roller skates, or in a wheelchair. Although pedestrian injuries can be caused by various accidents, serious injuries and fatalities result when motor vehicles are involved. When a pedestrian is seriously injured due to the negligence of an automobile operator, then the injured party can bring a claim against the driver.
As in other personal injury cases, injured pedestrians may recover for their economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, property damage, and lost income, while non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental anxiety.
Facts About Pedestrian Deaths
- Nearly one quarter of traffic fatalities in Florida involve pedestrians.
- More than a quarter of pedestrian deaths due to automobile accidents occur between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
- Almost half of pedestrian deaths involve alcohol, and 34% of pedestrians who are killed had a blood alcohol level over .08%.
- A hit and run is involved in 18% of pedestrian fatalities in Florida.
- The majority of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas.
Pedestrian Safety Laws
Florida law has several important provisions regarding pedestrian safety. These laws apply to both walkers and drivers. All operators of motor vehicles have a duty of care to pedestrians on the roadway. When a driver injures a pedestrian through the lack of due care, then the driver may be liable for damages.
- Sidewalks: When a sidewalk is present, pedestrians must travel upon it and not walk on the roadway. However, if there are no sidewalks, then pedestrians should walk, with caution, on the left shoulder of the roadway.
- Crosswalks: Motor vehicles must give the right of way to pedestrians when they are on a marked crosswalk. Moreover, pedestrians must use a crosswalk to cross the street if it is present. It is far less likely that a person will be struck by a car if using a crosswalk than if the person crosses the road at an unmarked point. Pedestrians must also follow all traffic indicators and only enter a crosswalk when the signal permits. Failure to follow these rules is a traffic infraction and is punishable by a fine.
- No Crosswalk: When a pedestrian must cross at an area that does not have a crosswalk, Florida law requires that the pedestrian yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. Drivers must still take proper precautions to avoid injuring pedestrians, and cannot ignore pedestrians crossing the road if they are not in a crosswalk.
Cause Of Pedestrian Injuries
The most frequent source of pedestrian injuries are slip and fall accidents. Other causes of injury include being hit by a car, dog bites, and falling in holes. Of these sources, being struck by a car is the deadliest. Careless, distracted, or impaired drivers, as well as poorly designed roads, contribute to foot traffic fatalities:
- The number one cause of accidents in Florida is distracted driving.
- In 14% of cases with a pedestrian death, the drivers were above the legal alcohol limit.
- Studies have shown that just two hours of sleep deprivation doubles the likelihood of getting into an accident.
- Florida roads were designed to move traffic quickly, not to protect pedestrians.
In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, Florida has adopted a Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan which includes a Complete Streets Policy. This policy is loosely based on the Swedish ideal of having “zero tolerance” for pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicles. Florida’s policy has three core components:
- Reduce speed limits and increase the enforcement of traffic laws
- Reconfigure existing roads and intersections to make them safer
- Raise public awareness regarding the safety of pedestrians
This program is built around creating transportation options and roads that will be safer for pedestrians and vehicles alike.
What To Do If You Are Hit By A Vehicle
Immediately seek medical assistance. Be sure to visit the ER and follow up shortly thereafter with your doctor. Doctors’ reports are a crucial piece of evidence should your case become contentious.
Contact the police. A police report is important because it provides information for your insurance claim, and it can be a significant piece of evidence should the need arise for you to file a lawsuit.
Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses. You are the one at the scene, and this may be the only opportunity to collect witness information before it disappears forever.
Make your own “unofficial report.” Do not rely on your memory – write down crucial details of the accident while they are fresh in your mind immediately after the incident occurred.
Photographs. Take photographs of the scene, vehicle(s) involved, and any injuries you have sustained.
Contact an attorney. Get some legal advice from an attorney before you speak with an insurance company. Attorney Shannon J. Sagan will give you a free initial consultation, and getting advice from an experienced attorney may prove to be invaluable before you file a claim.
Do I Need An Attorney?
If you have been struck by a car and injured, then you want an experienced Florida personal injury attorney on your side. Shannon J. Sagan is passionate about representing pedestrians involved in car accidents and will help you every step of the way.