Pedestrian accidents are often serious, causing debilitating injuries or death. Victims can face catastrophic long-term or lifelong consequences and expenses. Hospital trauma centers see the fallout daily. The above statistics illustrate that pedestrian accidents can happen to anyone, and you should know where to turn after an injury. Call a Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident lawyer from Dolman Law Group, Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for help if you are in an accident.
You're right if you think South Florida roadways are more crowded than ever. With so many cars, trucks, and motorcycles sharing the road, it's no surprise that pedestrians are becoming more and more vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Over 5,300 pedestrians were killed in accidents in 2015, per the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration's (DOT) most recent report. In addition, another 70,000 pedestrians were injured.
That represents more than a 10 percent rise over a decade. Over 40 percent of pedestrian injuries were from tripping, slipping, or falling, and about 12 percent of pedestrians were hit by motor vehicles. One-third of pedestrians killed had blood alcohol content (BAC) levels above the legal limit of 0.08. 628 Floridians died in pedestrian accidents, the second-highest number of fatalities in the nation.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries
When a negligent driver hits a pedestrian, injuries are usually severe. If not killed, victims often suffer from:
- Internal bleeding
- Damaged organs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Partial or total paralysis
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of limbs (amputations)
- Memory loss
All of these injuries need emergency medical attention and, often, ongoing treatment for an extended period of time.
Many Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
You can imagine many unfortunate circumstances which can lead to pedestrian accidents. Some examples of pedestrian accident scenarios include:
- A person rushes to work in the morning, backing his car out of the driveway, unaware that a young child walked (or rode his bicycle) behind his vehicle.
- A frail, elderly grandmother uses her walker to cross the street without seeing an oncoming or turning car, to avoid impact.
- A young driver pulls out from the curb and fails to see a courier delivering a package.
- A young mom briskly walks with headphones on, enjoying her music, unaware of a motorcyclist's screeching brakes as it hits her.
- A teenager walks to school and slips on any number of poor sidewalk conditions (for example, snow, ice, wet leaves, debris, uneven or broken pavement, potholes)
- An athletic person tries to run across a multi-lane highway, poorly judging how fast trucks are barreling down the road.
- A pedestrian crosses the street at an intersection in a marked crosswalk with a "walk" signal, but a driver fails to yield properly.
In any of these situations, the costs can be staggering. For injuries alone, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates pedestrian accidents cost nearly $60,000 for relatively minor injuries and soar to $230,000 for incapacitating injuries. Deadly pedestrian accidents have enormous costs: approximately $4.5 million in each case.
Vehicles Causing Pedestrian Accidents
The average car weighs over 4,000 pounds. A loaded tractor-trailer can weigh 40 tons. Imagine the horrific injuries caused when a vehicle hits a pedestrian. A person stands little chance.
An experienced attorney needs to determine whether the driver is at fault and whether the pedestrian somehow contributed to the accident. Drivers can be negligent when they:
- Are distracted (e.g., texting, talking on the phone, turning to face passengers, playing with their radio, lighting a cigarette, eating)
- Don't yield the right of way
- Drive while impaired (either by drugs, alcohol, lack of sleep, or from emotions like anger, anxiety, depression, or stress)
- Disregard traffic signals or signs
- Fail to properly signal when turning
- Ignore poor weather, road, or traffic conditions
Drivers must be especially vigilant with children – for example, near schools and playgrounds. Children often dart into traffic, and their smaller size makes it difficult for drivers to see and avoid.
Pedestrians Must also be Careful
Pedestrians cannot casually ignore traffic dangers and hazards. If they do, they may cause or contribute to the accident. This is known as “contributory negligence,” which may reduce compensation for injuries. Some examples of pedestrian negligence include:
- Not crossing at an intersection crosswalk
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Running in front of traffic
Such acts may not disqualify you from compensation. But, if a driver was also negligent, you should consult with an attorney about your rights.
Premises Liability Claims
Pedestrian accidents are not necessarily caused by moving vehicles. Sometimes there is a dangerous condition on the property (premises), such as a sidewalk, street, pavement, or parking lot. Your attorney will determine who is responsible for maintaining the property and whether they can be sued (or if there are limitations on the recoverable amount). A pedestrian injury lawyer will investigate the cause of your accident to determine whether:
- The owner or manager caused a dangerous condition; or
- Did they know the condition existed; or
- If not, did the condition persist for so long that the owner or manager should have known of the dangerous situation?
Fort Lauderdale Pedestrian Accident FAQ
When we think of car accidents, the most common picture that comes to mind is two vehicles colliding. However, one often-overlooked group of individuals vulnerable to harm from a car accident are pedestrians. While we understand that in most cases pedestrians have the right of way, pedestrians are still the unfortunate victims of accidents and injuries due to the negligence of drivers.
Read on to find the answers to common questions about how and why pedestrian accidents occur, who is responsible, and how to recover from injuries.
How Common are Pedestrian Accidents?
Too common, especially in Florida. Recently, Florida saw 9,674 pedestrian crashes resulting in 718 pedestrian fatalities. Of those pedestrian crashes, 1,082 occurred in the Fort Lauderdale area, as did 53 of the pedestrian fatalities.
To put these numbers in perspective, the risk of a pedestrian accident is significantly higher in Florida than in any other state.
Of the 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians, nine are located in Florida and include:
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford ranked #1
- Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach ranked #2
- Palm-Bay-Melbourne-Titusville ranked #3
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton ranked #4
- Lakeland-Winter Haven ranked #5
- Jacksonville ranked #6
- Cape Coral-Fort Myers ranked #8
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater ranked #9
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach ranked #14
Between 2008 and 2017, 5,433 pedestrian fatalities took place in Florida, making it the most dangerous state for walkers in the United States. Alabama was ranked number two, with 841 fatalities at the same time. Florida's number of pedestrian fatalities equates to an annual average of 2.73 pedestrian deaths for every 100,000 people, while the national average is 1.55 average annual deaths per 100,000.
Why Are Pedestrian Accidents Increasing?
Based on studies by Smart Growth America, pedestrian accidents have been on the rise over the last several years. From 2008 to 2017, pedestrian deaths increased by over 35 percent, although there was no notable change in individuals' driving or walking frequency.
One of the primary reasons for the increased rate of pedestrian accidents is the design of streets, which are prioritized for fast-moving vehicles and not people on foot. This is particularly true in Florida, where sprawling growth patterns led to the construction of wider roads, longer blocks, and engineering of streets that placed priority on high speeds for cars rather than the safety of pedestrians. Many streets lack appropriate speed limits, well-planned intersections, sidewalks, and bike lanes.
A change in vehicle purchasing patterns also contributes to the increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities. For example, drivers are increasingly likely to purchase an SUV or truck rather than a sedan, and these vehicles are much more likely to kill a pedestrian in a crash. While the size of these vehicles can't be changed, some features can increase safety, including improved headlight designs, softer hoods, automatic braking, front-crash prevention systems, rearview cameras, night-vision cameras, and pedestrian detection systems.
While there may be reasons to explain the rise in pedestrian fatalities in Florida, this doesn't help those who have suffered from one of these tragic accidents. Pedestrian accident victims can sustain severe injuries and can never return to life as they knew it before the accident.
What Makes Pedestrian Crashes So Dangerous?
In a collision between a car and a pedestrian, the car has all the power. Cars benefit from a rigid exterior that protects its passengers and presents a serious threat to any pedestrian. Pedestrians are even more exposed than motorcyclists or bicyclists because they are not protected by protective gear like a helmet.
Given the vulnerable nature of pedestrians, they are much more likely to suffer serious injuries or death when involved in a collision with a vehicle.
- Head and brain injuries. The absence of head protection leaves pedestrians particularly exposed to traumatic head and brain injuries. A fall or contact with any hard object could result in a contusion, concussion, or brain damage. Collisions involving pedestrians are a common cause of traumatic brain injury, resulting in an individual experiencing a coma, vegetative state, or even brain death.
- Neck, back, and spinal injuries. The trunk of the body often suffers a severe impact in a pedestrian accident. The spinal cord, the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the body, can seriously alter an individual's way of life if injured. Damage to the spinal cord results in a range of symptoms, from numbness to paralysis to changes in strength, sensation, and bodily functions. Spinal cord injuries, as well as other neck and back injuries, often require long-term rehabilitation.
- Chest contusions. A chest contusion is likely if the pedestrian suffers any impact to the chest. Such a blow can damage internal organs, pulmonary and myocardial contusions, cracked ribs, or a pneumothorax.
- Broken bones, fractures, and other injuries. In addition to injuries like cuts, bruises, strains, and sprains, broken bones are common after pedestrian accidents due to the force of contact with the vehicle and from striking the ground after impact. A minor break can be an inconvenience, but major breaks can result in surgery, long-term rehabilitation, and ongoing pain.
Who Is Responsible for a Pedestrian Accident?
More often than not, the driver of a vehicle involved in a collision with a pedestrian is at fault, but this must be proven before the pedestrian can recover compensation for their injuries. The pedestrian must establish that the driver or some other party acted negligently in a way that caused or contributed to the pedestrian's injuries.
The parties most commonly responsible for a pedestrian accident are:
- A negligent driver.While many factors can contribute to a finding of driver negligence, one of the most compelling pieces of evidence is violating any traffic laws or ordinances. These could include breaking the speed limit, driving while under the influence, distracted driving, or failure to heed traffic signals. In addition, if a driver acted negligently, resulting in a pedestrian crash, they should be responsible for the injuries suffered by the pedestrian.
- Local government. Pedestrians depend on the safety of the infrastructure developed by local governments, such as streets, crosswalks, sidewalks, traffic signals, and stop signs. If a local government fails to provide or repair necessary signals, it has failed in a duty of care to the pedestrian. Determining the negligence of a local government will depend heavily on the federal and state regulations placed on the local government for street safety. Recovery from governments can be complicated because they often have sovereign immunity, a special type of protection for governmental entities under the law. An attorney can analyze these requirements and pursue compensation from the local government.
- Vehicle manufacturers. Even if the driver acted appropriately, a vehicle could malfunction and cause an accident. For example, if the vehicle's brakes failed, a safety feature failed to operate as expected, or the car suffered from any other malfunction that caused the accident due to no fault of the driver, the vehicle manufacturer may be responsible for that failure.
Determining fault after an accident is a fact-intensive process requiring gathering and analyzing all evidence. An attorney can help with this complicated analysis.
What Compensation Can I Expect After an Accident?
The amount of damages you can anticipate recovering will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. Common damages recovered after a pedestrian accident include:
- Medical expenses: Be sure to document all expenses related to your medical needs after the accident. These could include doctor's bills, the cost of prescription medicine, assistive devices like a wheelchair, or the cost of long-term rehabilitation. In addition, be sure to think about what ongoing and future medical expenses will result from your injuries.
- Loss of income and future earnings: If you miss work because of your injuries, you deserve compensation for the loss of income. Your injuries can also impact your ability to perform your job moving forward, perhaps limiting the tasks you can accomplish or upward mobility in your current profession. Therefore, any future effect your injuries have on your earning potential should be included in a claim for damages.
- Property damage: If your property was damaged or destroyed in the accident, you are entitled to repair or replacement. It is not uncommon for electronics or other personal possessions to be destroyed on impact with a vehicle.
- Emotional distress: Emotional stress is common after any traumatic incident. While less tangible, victims suffering from emotional distress are entitled to recover for those damages. Common emotional distress includes depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
- Loss of enjoyment: If you can no longer perform activities that previously brought you joy, like playing an instrument or participating in sports, due to your injuries, you should include a loss of enjoyment claim in your damage request.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff for their injuries. In Florida, a claim for punitive damages requires that the defendant acted intentionally or in a grossly negligent fashion.
Some damages, like medical bills, are straightforward, but others can be complicated and require the input of medical and financial experts. An attorney can help you analyze your damages to ensure you are fully compensated.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
If you are a pedestrian who has been involved in an accident, you should take these steps:
- Ensuring your health and safety should be your first priority. Make sure to seek immediate medical attention, even if you don't immediately identify any injuries. Not only is this important for your personal well-being, but a delay in the discovery of any medical issues could limit your ability to fully recover damages from the responsible party.
- File a police report. A police report will collect relevant information about the accident, including pictures, witness statements, and witness contact information. The report will also note any citations issued due to the accident - valuable evidence of any party's negligence.
- Keep track of all paperwork. You might feel overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork you receive after the accident, from insurance statements to medical bills. This paperwork will be important as you establish your case and determine the amount of damages owed by the person who caused the accident.
- Exercise caution when discussing the accident. You want to avoid making any statement that could be twisted to indicate you were at fault for any part of the accident. For example, a statement as simple as "I guess I should have paid more attention to where I was going!" or even a polite apology could easily be used against you.
- Don't delay in filing a lawsuit. Under Florida law, you must bring any action founded on another party's negligence within four years. Any delay past this period invalidates the claim.
- Analyze all settlement requests thoroughly. The other party may present you with a settlement request that is much lower than your damages demand. While the ease of quickly resolving the case may be tempting, you will regret the decision later as you continue to deal with your injuries. Determining whether you received a fair settlement offer will require an analysis of the strength of your case and the extent of your damages.
In addition to the above actions, one of the most important things you can do after suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident is to hire an attorney. An attorney can help you analyze the facts of your case, compile evidence of fault against the other party, prepare a comprehensive damages assessment, and evaluate any settlement offers from the other party.
Why You Need an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Many lawyers handle Fort Lauderdale personal injury cases, but not all lawyers have the unique depth, experience, and knowledge to handle pedestrian accident cases. Your attorney will handle many tasks and steps depending on your case, including:
- Interviewing you to learn about the accident
- Obtaining and reviewing your medical history
- Gathering medical and police reports
- Hiring forensic experts where needed
- Determining who is “at fault” (whether the accident was caused by a vehicle or property defect, you must show that the other party was negligent)
- Notifying involved parties
- Conducting settlement negotiations with insurance companies
- Filing a lawsuit
- Bringing your case to trial
When a pedestrian is hurt, more than one person may be at fault. It could be the driver, the sidewalk or parking lot owner, or the pedestrian himself. Our investigation will uncover the cause of the accident and identify the party whose negligence results in financial liability. Your attorney will know how to assess your case properly.
What Evidence Will a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Collect to Prove My Case Is Valid?
Fort Lauderdale is a big, busy city with a lot of foot and vehicle traffic. In a collision between a car and a pedestrian, the pedestrian is likely to fare far worse. When that happens, and you want to seek compensation, we collect evidence that supports your version of events. This may include:
- Your police report which will provide impartial and unbiased data
- Your statement which will tell the story of the accident from your point of view
- Witness statements that can fill in crucial details from varying vantage points
- Medical records that describe your injuries, the cause, and your prognosis for the future. These documents establish how your injuries occurred and what it will cost to treat them now and in the future.
- Check stubs, direct deposit receipts, tax records, and other forms of income reporting that prove your income losses. A pedestrian accident lawyer can ensure you receive replacement income for full-time, part-time, freelance, and business income.
- Receipts and estimates for repairing any personal property you were carrying when you were struck or authoritative guides on replacing it if it cannot be restored to its pre-accident condition.
Our law firm will never stop fighting for your financial recovery. We start with the police report because it can point our investigators toward additional evidence. Your evidence is organized into categories - proof of cause, proof of cost, proof of property damage - and prepared for presentation to the insurance provider or a judge or jury, if necessary,
How do I Know Which Settlement Offer to Accept?
As our pedestrian accident lawyer will explain, you, not us, will make the final decision to accept or reject a settlement offer. We guide you through the settlement process and make sure you understand each offer's validity. Some factors you should consider as we review offers together include:
- The at-fault party's insurance provider is on their side and may make a fast but too-low offer to get you to settle your case right away
- Allow enough time to lapse between accident and settlement to ensure your full range of expenses are known
- Carefully review all your medical records and prognosis report to ensure all future medical expenses are accounted for
- Make sure your request for compensation will cover the costs of repairing any disfiguring injuries you might have suffered as a result of the collision.
Your lawyer can ensure your recoverable damages are accurately assessed and calculated. We also make sure you understand the weight and importance of a final, signed agreement. Once it is made, you cannot ask for additional compensation later, even for valid expenses and losses. That makes it important to get the value of your lawsuit right before entering settlement talks. Failing to do so could leave you with uncovered expenses due to someone else's negligence.
Were You a Pedestrian Hurt in an Accident? Call a Ft. Lauderdale Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today for Help
If you or someone you know was hurt in a pedestrian accident, don't delay. You may be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries. You need a skilled, experienced attorney. We are the lawyers at Dolman Law Group, Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Dolman Law conveniently located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Call us right away at (754) 208-1130 or contact us online. We know pedestrian accidents and how to best present your case and injuries. We will help you - our core mission is serving your best interests.
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“This firm is amazing! Very professional, they helped me with my case until the end. They were available and very flexible. Dolman Law Group would answer all my calls/emails and wouldn't hesitate on explaining all of my concerns. They represented me on my case, in which it turned out to have a successful result. Super recommend them!”
Fort Lauderdale Office
150 E Davie Blvd Suite 201-2
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
Phone: (754) 208-1130