Florida’s warm year-round climate and numerous tourist attractions have led to its becoming one of the deadliest states in the nation for pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,280 pedestrians were killed and another 70,000 were injured in the United States in 2010. Based on these numbers, a walker is injured every eight minutes, and killed every two hours. In fact, pedestrians who have been hit by automobiles account for 13% of all traffic fatalities. Florida’s constant influx of tourists allowed the Orlando, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and Miami areas to claim the top four spots on the list of metropolitan areas most dangerous for foot-travelers. One out of every four auto-accident fatalities involves a person on foot.
Most vehicle-pedestrian accidents are caused by the driver’s inattention. Distracted driving habits like texting, changing the radio station or eating take the driver’s focus away from the road and the surrounding area, making it difficult to keep an eye out for walkers. Even drivers who are paying attention however, may fail to stop at a stop sign or traffic light or fail to properly examine intersections for people as well as other vehicles. More egregious instances of driver negligence usually result from the driver simply being in too much of a hurry. Speeding/reckless driving, attempting to pass a city bus or failing to stop when a school bus arm is extended can be dangerous to the driver and is often deadly to the pedestrian. Driving under the influence is also a major cause of ambler accidents.
While many motorists tend to think that they really only need to watch out for pedestrians at intersections, recent data show this idea to be completely false. The NHTSA reports that in 2010 approximately 80% of pedestrian traffic fatalities occurred in places other than intersections. Pedestrians can be hit by cars in parking lots, while exiting a bus, while walking or jogging along the side of a road that has no sidewalk, crossing the street at a non-intersection, and at crosswalks.
Pedestrians who have been struck by motor vehicles usually suffer severe injuries. In an automobile collision, both drivers are protected- at least to some extent- by their vehicles, seat belts, and air bags. Even in the case of an automobile-motorcycle accident, the motorcyclist is (hopefully) at least wearing a helmet. Pedestrians on the other hand, have no such protections. It is easy to imagine the damage that a roughly 3000lb vehicle can cause to an unprotected 150lb human being. These injuries can include:
As with any motor vehicle collision, perambulators have a right to recover for their injuries resulting from someone else’s negligence or inattention. The injured pedestrian may be able to recover not only the cost of medical care, but also for loss of income and additional pain and suffering caused by the accident. In some cases the pedestrian may even be able to recover punitive damages from the motorist. Punitive damages are money awarded to an injured party for the purpose of punishing the wrongdoer for his/her reckless or dangerous behavior. These types of damages are often seen in cases involving a drunk driver. Drunk driving cases also often present us with “the hit-and-run problem.” Drunk drivers know they are breaking the law and may flee the scene of an accident to avoid criminal charges and monetary liability. These cases present a special set of concerns, not the least of which is identifying and finding the reckless driver. In these instances, it is important to call 911 as soon as you are able so that, hopefully, the police may find and apprehend the hit-and-run driver. In the occasional circumstance when law enforcement is unable to find the suspect, Dolman Law Group’s team of highly skilled and practiced investigators will work tirelessly- examining the scene, collecting evidence and tracking down witnesses- to identify the negligent party and bring him/her to justice. It is important to remember in vehicle-pedestrian accidents that the driver of the car is not always the only person liable for the crash. Sometimes faulty traffic and crosswalk signals, poor road conditions eliminating the driver and/or the pedestrian’s visibility of the intersection or making the crosswalk unusable may also be to blame. In these instances, the injured pedestrian may have a claim against the government agency responsible for maintaining these traffic control devices. As part of your representation with Dolman Law Group, our accident investigators will go to the scene of the accident to examine the area for any of these conditions and determine whether they were a contributing cause of your injuries.
As a personal injury attorney, I see too many situations of pedestrians trying to work with the vehicle owner’s insurance company to settle the claim on their own. Sadly most of these situations result in the pedestrian being grossly undercompensated for his/her injuries. It is important to keep in mind that the driver’s insurance company does not have the pedestrian’s best interests in mind when they are attempting to settle the claim. Quite the contrary in fact- the insurance adjuster’s job is to settle the claim injury as quickly and as cheaply as possible. At Dolman Law Group, our job is to ensure that this quick and cheap method is not applied to you. Our experienced personal injury attorneys represent only consumers, never insurance carriers. We routinely litigate personal injury claims throughout the Tampa Bay Area. If you have suffered an injury as a pedestrian caused by a motor vehicle driver’s negligence or inattention, or if you have lost a loved one following a pedestrian accident, please contact Dolman Law Group, for a free consultation and case evaluation. 727-451-6900.