When you leave the house to walk your dog or get some fresh air, you probably never considered the threat of being hit by a car. Sadly, it happens all the time in Florida. Pedestrian accidents are a real threat that could happen to any person on the street or sidewalk.
Pedestrians are much more vulnerable to severe or catastrophic injuries after being hit by a car than other drivers. As such, Florida has laws in place that require drivers to take cautionary measures. There are also laws to hold drivers accountable if they cause injuries to a pedestrian.
By understanding why and when such accidents occur the most, you can avoid being in a pedestrian accident.
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Common Risk Factors in Florida Pedestrian Accidents
Distracted driving is the leading cause of pedestrian accidents in the US and Florida. According to data from the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some form of distraction plays a major role in the majority of traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents.
Drivers who are using their cell phones, eating, or doing other distracting activities pose a risk to pedestrians. However, pedestrians also put themselves at risk by using their phones or wearing earphones while walking. Both drivers and pedestrians should pay attention to the path ahead and limit distractions as much as possible.
Here are some of the most common scenarios in which pedestrian accidents occur.
Despite the fact that crosswalks were invented for pedestrians to cross the road safely, they are one of the most frequent accident locations. Often pedestrians get hit by cars when the car fails to stop in time or in the right spot. Or, sometimes drivers disobey traffic laws (e.g., running a red light, illegal left turn. Additionally, a pedestrian who jaywalks or rushes before the light changes has a higher likelihood of getting struck by a car.
Pedestrians Walking or Running Near Traffic
Sometimes sidewalks are placed too close to the roadway, putting pedestrians at risk. Even more dangerous is when pedestrians walk in areas with no sidewalks at all. Someone walking on the shoulder may not be visible to drivers. This is especially true on a winding road or with poor weather conditions.
Children and School Zones Are High-Risk
Due to the higher congestion of school zones, drivers have a stronger duty of care to drive cautiously there. Younger children may not understand the danger of darting across the street suddenly. As a result, they are more likely to make sudden or abrupt moves into the street. A pedestrian accident involving children can have devastating effects. Therefore, all drivers passing school zones should be extra cautious and prepared to stop suddenly.
Poor Visibility At Night
Almost three-quarters of all fatal pedestrian accidents occur between 6 pm to 6 am (Governor’s Highway Safety Association). Pedestrian accidents in the dark are more likely to be hit-and-run because drivers are sometimes unaware that they hit someone. Other times, the driver might be afraid to stop after hitting someone. Whatever the case, getting hit by a car at night can result in catastrophic injuries or death.
Poor Visibility Due to Bad Weather
Thick fog, heavy rain, and any other weather conditions that affect visibility for drivers are dangerous. Pedestrians might also have a worse line of vision when using an umbrella or wearing a hood. If a driver forgets to use their headlights or windshield wipers, they could affect their ability to see and be seen by pedestrians.
Parking Lot Pedestrian Accidents
Parking lots are crammed spaces where pedestrians and drivers get mixed up closely. With such little room between everyone, parking lots become the perfect environment for accidents. Drivers can back into or over a pedestrian while pulling out of a parking spot. Other common causes of parking lot pedestrian accidents are speeding or accidentally driving in the wrong gear.
What if I Had Some Fault in the Pedestrian Accident?
Even if you contributed to the accident, you might still be able to record compensation. If you were injured primarily due to someone else’s negligence, discuss your case details with an experienced Florida pedestrian accident lawyer.
How Do You Determine Liability in a Florida Pedestrian Accident?
Since there are so many factors that can affect a driver’s and pedestrian’s duty of care, determining fault can be complex. All drivers have a duty to stay alert and drive prudently. Both drivers and pedestrians should also obey all traffic laws. Here are some factors to consider when determining liability in a pedestrian accident.
Did the Accident Happen at a Crosswalk?
Pedestrians always have the right of way at crosswalks. If the light is red and the pedestrian has a walk signal, cars should always yield to pedestrians. Drivers are required to stop at a crosswalk and should stay still until the pedestrian finishes crossing. If there is no crosswalk at a given intersection, drivers should still stop before reaching the intersection. If a pedestrian or bicyclist crossed while the traffic light was green, they might be partially liable for cursing the accident.
Was There a Sidewalk?
If there was a sidewalk available, but a pedestrian chose to walk on the road, they could be partially liable for the accident. Pedestrians should walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the shoulder of the road facing traffic so they can see oncoming drivers in front of them.
Did the Pedestrian Follow Traffic Rules?
Bicyclists and pedestrians must follow the same traffic rules as cars. When bicyclists are riding on the road, they should go in the same direction as vehicles. A pedestrian or bicyclist who fails to obey traffic rules could contribute to causing a crash.
Was the Pedestrian Jaywalking?
Pedestrians are supposed to cross at crosswalks or dedicated intersections to cross the road. In addition, they should wait for traffic to pass before crossing. As a pedestrian, you should never assume that an approaching vehicle will yield.
Did the Pedestrian Have Any Disabilities or Impairments?
A pedestrian with a disability or impairment might have difficulties or take longer to cross a road. Certain impairments might make it hard for people to see all potential dangers in their pathway when crossing. Therefore, drivers should take extra precautions when approaching intersections. They should also take extra care to look out for any pedestrians with any signs of impairment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or guide dogs.
Were There Any Bridges or Barriers Where the Accident Occurred?
Pedestrians should only cross bridges that have a dedicated sidewalk. Bicyclists can cross bridges on the road as long as they ride out of the way of traffic. However, neither pedestrians nor cyclists should enter a bridge while a gate or barrier has been lowered. Additionally, refrain from crossing a railroad crossing that has lights or signals flashing. If a pedestrian crosses a barrier such as a gate, that could be considered negligence.
You must consider many different factors before accurately determining liability in a Florida pedestrian accident. Injury victims should carefully assess the circumstances that led up to the accident. They can do so with the help of an attorney who has experience dealing with pedestrian accident cases. An attorney can help review the actions of the pedestrian and the driver, witness testimonies, and police reports to help establish liability.
Why Are Pedestrians at High Risk of Accidents in Florida?
The overwhelming majority of accidents in Florida are the result of negligence on the driver’s part. Whether it’s from drunk or distracted driving, drivers can cause immense harm to pedestrians if they are negligent while driving. What’s even more unsettling is that most pedestrian accidents are completely preventable. Here are some reasons why Florida pedestrians are particularly at risk of injury from motor vehicle accidents.
Beautiful Weather and Palm-Lined Streets Encourage Walking
Florida has nice weather all year. That means people are out walking the streets and doing outdoor activities year-round, essentially doubling the potential for pedestrian accidents. More people on the streets translates to a greater likelihood of cars and pedestrians colliding. While states that get winter weather to see a drastic decrease in pedestrian activity during the colder months, Florida has pedestrians on the sidewalks consistently.
Florida’s High Population
Florida is the third highest populated state in the US. Home to over 20 million Floridians, Florida has an overwhelming amount of traffic congestion. That creates more opportunities for pedestrian accidents.
Florida’s Booming Tourism
On top of the millions of people that live in Florida, another 100 million or so visit annually. With tourists flocking to the southern states for warmer weather, the streets get crowded. Additionally, many tourists are unfamiliar with the area and use a GPS or navigation while driving or walking around. Cell phone use while driving or walking increases the risk of pedestrian accidents.
Road Debris or Obstacles
Litter, debris, potholes, or gravel can create hazardous conditions for drivers. That could lead to a disastrous collision with a pedestrian. Florida roadways are constantly under construction, causing many confusing detours and alternative routes. Having to follow new signs or take different highway exits can be distracting for drivers.
If a pedestrian sustains injuries from a driver due to poorly maintained roadways, there might be more than one liable party. For example, aside from the at-fault driver, the road maintenance company, construction company, or other third parties could be legally responsible for poor road conditions.
Lack of Sufficient Sidewalks
Sometimes pedestrians or joggers are hit by a car while walking or jogging along the side of the road. Many times this is because there is no sidewalk available for foot traffic. Lacking sidewalks places pedestrians at unnecessary risk. As such, a person who is hit while biking, walking, or running in an area without sidewalks can potentially bring a claim against the city. With the right circumstances, the city might be liable for failing to provide proper walkways for pedestrian traffic.
Busy Intersections in Florida
Intersections are by far the most common accident site for pedestrian and vehicle collisions. Many intersections have blind corners and sharp rises that pose dangers to pedestrians.
Accidents in School Zones
Children are smaller and are still developing mentally and physically. As a result, they are at higher risk of being involved in pedestrian accidents. Since they are smaller and more likely to suddenly run out into the street, they are the most likely population group to get struck by a motor vehicle.
Garbage trucks, school buses, and neighbors backing out can be especially risky to children walking or biking around the neighborhood. Such accidents result in trauma to the family and sometimes disability or wrongful death.
Contact a Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
No matter what the circumstances of your pedestrian accident are, our legal team will help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We have a world-class team of Florida personal injury lawyers that will help:
- Investigate your case
- Gather evidence
- And help you get a full and fair compensation
You can get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, and more.
Contact us today if you sustained injuries in a Florida pedestrian accident. We offer a free initial case evaluation, so you have nothing to lose.