Car accidents can be frightening, and the sounds of a crash can haunt you for months to come. The crunch of metal, the ping of impact, and the shattering of glass will be ingrained in your memory, but it is seldom understood to be a blessing in disguise. From seat belts, airbags, and shatterproof glass to their impact absorbing structure, vehicles are designed to keep you safe from traumatic injuries. Pedestrians, however, are afforded none of these protections, and even a slight impact from a two-ton vehicle may cause traumatic injuries or even death.
Pedestrian car accidents are defined as accidents between a car, truck, or motorcycle and a person not in a vehicle. However, in Florida ,1 and cyclists are considered drivers. If you have been in a car-bicycle accident, therefore, it is important to contact an experienced to discuss the laws that apply to your case. For pedestrians, i.e., walkers, runners, shoppers, the following are common types of accidents:
Crosswalk Accidents: Occur when a pedestrian is legally in a crosswalk at the time of the accident and a vehicle fails to give pedestrians the right-of-way, striking them within the crosswalk;
Parking Lot/Back-Over Accidents: Occur when a vehicle is backing up, such as pulling into or out of a parking space, and strikes a pedestrian while in reverse. Back-over accidents are common in parking lots when cars may be blocking a driver’s view to the left or right and shoppers are quickly and consistently crossing the path of parked vehicles;
Loss of Control Accidents: This type of accident includes sideswiping a pedestrian on a sidewalk or hitting a pedestrian after loss of control of a vehicle. Many times such accidents can result in a pedestrian being “run-over” and trapped under the vehicle or crushed between the vehicle and another unmoving object, such as another vehicle or a building. These accidents are some of the most dangerous to the life and health of pedestrians.
Often, these accidents turn into “hit-and-run” accidents, especially if the injuries to the pedestrian seem severe and traffic conditions are light. Drivers often panic after a pedestrian accident as they know even a slight impact can result in severe injuries to the pedestrian. 2 requires the driver of a vehicle to remain at the scene of the crash if he or she has caused personal injuries to a pedestrian. Failure to do so is considered a hit-and-run and is a felony in Florida.
Of these injuries, women are more likely to suffer from pelvic injuries, which may result in miscarriages or loss of fertility. However, traumatic brain injuries and injuries to the chest, including the heart and lungs, are the most severe. Traumatic brain injuries tend to result not directly from the impact of the vehicle itself but from the impact of the pedestrian’s head with the pavement after being propelled forward by a motor vehicle. The faster the motor vehicle was traveling at the time of the accident, the more severe the impact will be. Further, crushing injuries tend to result in severe injuries to the heart and lungs, especially if you are pinned above your pelvic area. The height of the vehicle as well as the height of the pedestrian can often determine the center of impact and may be the difference between a severe and fatal injury.
Florida law generally requires pedestrians to following all traffic control devices and to remain in crosswalks, on sidewalks, or on the shoulder of the road as applicable when traversing areas of traffic. If you adhere to these requirements, you generally bear no liability for an accident. However, just because you were hit as a pedestrian does not mean you cannot be held liable or partially liable for an accident. Pedestrians are not permitted to “suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield,” and they must yield the right of way to moving vehicles if they are not crossing the road within a designed crosswalk. However, drivers are obligated under Florida law to always exercise due care in order to avoid an accident with a pedestrian, especially if that pedestrian is a child, elderly, “.”4
Although liability for pedestrian accidents generally fall in favor of the pedestrian, it is important to obey all Florida traffic laws in order to afford you the full protection of the law. Further, you may still be found partially liable for an accident under Florida’s comparative fault system, and the driver and his or her insurance company may attempt to shift blame.
Pedestrian accidents in Florida can result in traumatic injuries and death and should be taken seriously. If you or a loved one were a pedestrian injured in an accident, the may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys are your premier pedestrian traumatic injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they are here to fight for your rights. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765