Wrongful Death in a Pedestrian Accident

March 10, 2022
Wrongful Death in a Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrian Accidents Can Have Fatal Consequences

Pedestrian accidents can lead to premature death due to the pedestrian's lack of protection. Large vehicles moving at fast speeds can cause broken bones, ruptured organs, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord dislocation, and loss of extremities. Without swift medical attention, these pedestrian accident injuries can lead to death. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 7,688 pedestrians died in 2019, with 6,205 of those deaths occurring on public roads. 

The Fallout After Wrongful Death from a Pedestrian Accident

A wrongful death resulting from a pedestrian accident can have major implications for the family whose loved one passed away.  Not only will they have to contend with steep medical and funeral costs, but the family may have relied on the deceased financially. The emotional pain of experiencing the premature death of a loved one can complicate matters even further. If the negligence of a driver caused this death in the family, it is important to get in touch with legal representation. A wrongful death lawyer can assist you in filing the claim in the hope of receiving compensation for the damages caused by the death of your loved one.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is any claim filed after a death that was not the fault of the deceased. Negligent actions that caused the death of an innocent victim are typically the basis for a wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Recovering from the wrongful death of a loved one begins with filing a wrongful death claim. People with a close familial bond or that rely on the deceased for financial support are the only parties that can file a wrongful death claim.  The following are the parties able to file a wrongful death claim:
  • The deceased's spouse
  • The deceased's children
  • The deceased's parents (if they do not have a spouse or child)
  • Blood relatives or adoptive siblings dependent on the deceased for financial support
  • The deceased's estate

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Need Proof of Negligence to Move Forward

If the insurance policy of the deceased does not cover the expenses of the wrongful death, the family will have to file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. But, for the claim to move forward, negligence must be proven. According to Florida Statute 768.19, the death of a person by a wrongful act allows the other person involved in the accident to be held liable if negligence, default, or breach of contract of the deceased can be proven. Evidence such as cell phone records at the time of the accident, street footage of the accident, or eyewitness accounts of what happened can prove negligence and assign liability for the wrongful death claim.

What Makes Florida So Dangerous for Pedestrians?

Florida ranks as one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians in the United States. During the 2010s, there were 5,893 pedestrian fatalities in Florida. Seven out of the ten most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians were in Florida. Some of the factors that contribute to the high number of pedestrian accidents include wide roads, narrow sidewalks, and high traffic density.The following are some of the causes of pedestrian accidents and wrongful death:

Distracted Driving is a Common Cause of Pedestrian Accidents and Wrongful Death

Distracted driving can lead to the wrongful death of pedestrians because the driver isn't paying attention to what is in front of them. This can lead to them hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk, drifting onto a sidewalk, or colliding with a customer in a parking lot. The distractions one can experience behind the wheel can be visual, manual, or cognitive. However the distraction occurs, the effect it has can be deadly. According to the NHTSA, 3,142 fatalities were caused by distracted driving in 2019. About one in every five distracted driving fatalities was someone outside of a vehicle.  A distracted driver blowing through a red light or veering off the road can cause a pedestrian to suffer serious and life-threatening injuries. The chaos of the moment can make it difficult to seek medical attention and can lead to wrongful death.

Drunk Driving Can Lead to Wrongful Death in Pedestrian Accidents

Drunk driving is among the most reckless behaviors a motorist can engage in. With lowered cognitive functioning, it's nearly impossible for drunk drivers to perceive all that's going on around them. The CDC reported in 2017 that 17% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a driver with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 g/DL.  Drunk driving can increase the risk of speeding. With inhibitions lowered, it would be difficult for a driver to slow down before crashing into a pedestrian. The high speed of the vehicle and the lack of protection for the pedestrian can lead to deadly consequences.

Complications From Injuries Sustained During a Pedestrian Accident Can Lead to Wrongful Death

Not all pedestrian accident deaths happen immediately. The complications of a pedestrian accident injury can lead to death down the line. For example, a broken bone may not put you at immediate risk of death. But, broken bones can cause deadly infections within the body that can take a life after some time. If complications from an injury sustained during a pedestrian accident lead to death, the family can file a wrongful death claim on the liable party. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years after the death date.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Pedestrian Accident

Wrongful death can have cascading effects on the victim's family. Medical and funeral expenses can cost an exorbitant amount of money, especially without the income the family relied on from the person who passed away. Lost wages can put the family in a deep hole, and they still have to reckon with the emotional damage the death has caused. If your insurance cannot cover all of the damages caused by the accident, a wrongful death lawyer can assist the family in seeking compensation for the death in their family. They can help determine whether the pedestrian accident qualifies for a wrongful death claim and how to proceed.

Determining Whether or Not a Survival Action is Necessary

According to Florida Statute 46.021, any claim a person in an accident has for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, etc. survives despite the victim's death. This is known as a survival action. Put simply, a survival action is a continuation of a claim a decedent had or potentially had before they died with their damages directly coming from the time of their accident to the time of their death. A wrongful death claim is a claim that exists because someone has died with its damages relating to the effects of a person's death in the aftermath. 

Wrongful Death Vs. Survival Actions in Terms of Damages

So the damages of a survivor action will include things like the medical bills for the treatment a plaintiff had, the pain and suffering the plaintiff experienced, and lost wages they missed out on before they passed. In contrast, wrongful death damages deal with damages that arise as a consequence of the decedent's passing like funeral costs, the income they could have potentially provided, the companionship, guidance, and other benefits their close relations would have received had they lived.  A wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether your case requires a survival action or a wrongful death claim or both.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Wrongful Death Claim

Finding the right wrongful death attorney is important for both the case's chance of success and the family's mental health. The immense pain the death has caused the family cannot be handled callously; you need an attorney that can empathize with your pain and develop a strategy that is right for your situation.  Dolman Law Group's experienced wrongful death attorneys will be attentive to your family's wants and desires. They will follow the family, as well as their experience, to craft a plan to potentially get a wrongful death settlement to help ease the financial burden of the death. Get in touch with Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation. Call 833-55-CRASH or leave us a message on our online contact page.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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