South Florida’s beautiful weather encourages walking. Pedestrians going to and from their destinations enjoy the gorgeous sunshine. Unfortunately, Florida consistently ranks as the most dangerous state in the nation when it comes to pedestrian accidents and deaths.
Were you or a loved one hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian? A personal injury attorney in Vero Beach at Kogan & DiSalvo will investigate your case and fight so that you receive the maximum compensation available. Please reach out anytime for a free case review.
Pedestrian Accident Causes
The most frequent cause of pedestrian accidents is driver inattention or distraction. Those texting while behind the wheel are not paying attention to the road and an innocent pedestrian may pay with their life for that text.
Other frequent causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Inclement weather
- Vehicles making left turns
According to the CDC, alcohol was involved in 46 percent of crashes ending with a pedestrian death in 2019. Roughly one-third of pedestrian deaths involved a pedestrian with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 percent.
The majority of pedestrian deaths take place at night in locations away from intersections. In those areas, drivers are more likely to speed, resulting in even more horrific pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Pedestrians may also prove at fault for the accident for some of the same reasons as drivers. For instance, a pedestrian talking or texting on their cell phone may not pay attention to cars in the vicinity. A drunken pedestrian may not realize where they are. Children may dart into the road and get hit by a car.
The majority of pedestrians killed in accidents are senior citizens or children.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents run the gamut. Some of the most common pedestrian accidents include:
- Turning vehicles–Among the most frequent type of pedestrian accidents. The turning driver is looking for cars and does not notice the pedestrian.
- Backup accidents–The motorist backs up without seeing the person walking behind them.
- Multiple threat accidents–If more than one driver must stop to allow the pedestrian to cross, the risk of getting hit by a motor vehicle rises.
- Trapped in the crosswalk–The pedestrian may cross on a Walk signal but the Don’t Walk signal comes up while they are still trying to cross.
To keep themselves safe, pedestrians should always take basic precautions. Avoid wearing dark clothing when walking at night. Pedestrian visibility is key. If you are out walking at night, try to cross the street only in well-lit areas. Other precautions include:
- Crossing only at crosswalks
- Avoiding cell phone or headphone use when crossing
- Staying on the sidewalk and not walking in the street
Because Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard, the accident victim may receive compensation even if they were partly responsible. The amount of the award is reduced by the percentage of fault a jury assigns to the victim. For example, if a pedestrian was texting at the time they were hit by the vehicle, the jury might assign 25 percent of the fault to them. If the award is $100,000, their amount is reduced to $75,000.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrian accidents usually result in serious injury. For pedestrian accident survivors, those injuries may prove permanently disabling. Common pedestrian accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limbs or digits
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
Keep in mind that Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state. The pedestrian’s medical expenses are covered by their own auto insurance policy, if the person has an automobile, until their coverage is exhausted. At that point, they can pursue a claim on the motorist’s policy.
What Happens If the Accident Results in a Death?
Unfortunately, many pedestrian accidents prove fatal. The human body is no match for a motor vehicle weighing thousands of pounds. As per the CDC, one in six people killed in crashes are pedestrians. When a pedestrian accident results in death, the estate’s personal representative, on behalf of family members, may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties.
Proving a Pedestrian Accident Case
As with any personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove that the at-fault driver owed them a duty of care. That duty of care involves acting in a safe, responsible manner toward the public at all times. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached that duty of care. Such proof might include speeding, driving while intoxicated, or running a traffic signal or stop sign. The defendant’s negligence must have caused the pedestrian accident victim’s injuries. The victim must provide evidence of economic losses relating to the injuries, such as medical bills, loss of employment, and the like.
Because pedestrian injuries are so often catastrophic, the injured party usually cannot photograph or video the accident scene. If the person is capable of recording the scene, they should do so. They should also get the name, address, and contact information of any eyewitnesses.
To prove a pedestrian accident case, the attorney relies on:
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Eyewitness testimony
- Obtaining cell phone records to show if the driver was texting or on the phone
- An accident reconstruction specialist
The attorney will also determine which parties are liable for the accident. That liability may extend beyond the driver of the vehicle, depending upon the circumstances of the accident. For instance, if the pedestrian was hit because the sidewalk was blocked and they were forced to walk in the road, the entity blocking the sidewalk may prove liable. That entity might be a restaurant with tables on the sidewalk or a construction zone with poor re-routing.
If the accident occurred because a traffic signal malfunctioned, the municipality could be held liable.
Compensation, or damages, in a pedestrian accident case may include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income
- Pain and suffering
If the pedestrian was killed in the accident, the potential damages involved in a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of family members include:
- Medical expenses from the time of the accident until the victim succumbed
- Funeral and burial costs
- Value of earnings and benefits the deceased could reasonably have expected to ret
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of the services provided by the deceased
- Mental pain and suffering
The value of earnings and benefits the deceased could have “reasonably” expected to save are also considered, as these earnings and benefits would have constituted part of their estate.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case is two years from the date of the accident. For a wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations is two years from the death date, not the accident date.
However, it is imperative that a pedestrian accident victim or surviving family members seek legal counsel as soon as possible. By waiting too long, critical evidence may disappear. That is especially true of surveillance video, which shows how the accident happened. Such video is often recorded over by municipal entities after 30 days or so.
Contact a Vero Beach Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, or if a family member was killed in such a tragedy, contact a Vero Beach personal injury lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo today for a free consultation. Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation. We serve all of Indian River County.