More and more, people are walking both for pleasure and health. This trend is especially strong in Florida, partly due to its splendid climate. One reason people are also walking more is because they are concerned about protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions from motor vehicles. Apps and other devices make it fun to track our walking, and many people are making it a habit to walk to work. Walking should be a safe and enjoyable activity. However, despite the benefits of walking, it presents risks. If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident contact our Tampa Pedestrian Accident Lawyers today to discuss your recovery options. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrian fatalities has grown rapidly, accounting for a higher proportion of traffic fatalities than they have for the previous 33 years. There were 6,283 pedestrian fatalities across the nation in one recent year. In Florida, there were 5,433 pedestrian deaths in a 10-year span, which is an annual average of 2.73 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people. According to Smart Growth America, government policies produce roads that favor high-speed driving over individual safety. The Pedestrian Danger Index ranks states by calculating the share of local commuters who walk to work and the most recent data on pedestrian deaths. Florida was ranked at 182.0. National figures show 1.55 average annual deaths per 100,000 and a 55.3 PDI. By comparison, Vermont was the safest state, with a score of 13.8. The Tampa Bay area has a history of deadly pedestrian accidents. In one recent year, more than 100 pedestrians died walking in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco Counties. Hillsborough County alone saw a total of 50 pedestrians killed in two consecutive years. If a car struck you while walking in Tampa, you may have a personal injury case with which we can help you. Please call our Tampa pedestrian accident lawyers now.
Were You the Victim of a Pedestrian Accident in the Tampa Area?
When a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian, it is no surprise that the pedestrian is almost always injured, sometimes fatally. Death rates are especially high for the elderly, minorities, and people walking in poor communities. Individuals aged 65 and older account for 18 percent of all pedestrian deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one out of five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who died in traffic accidents were pedestrians. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you need to speak with our experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers to learn about your legal rights and options.
Common Causes of Atlanta Pedestrian Accidents
All kinds of circumstances can play a part in crashes. Speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence, extremely quiet cars, unmarked crosswalks, and distracting devices in the hands of both the driver and the pedestrian are just a few of the causes of pedestrian accidents. Other elements that affect pedestrian fatalities include economic conditions, demographics, weather, fuel prices, vehicle miles traveled, and the amount of time people spend walking. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists some of the factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents:
- Geographic area and population density play a role in pedestrian accidents. They occur most often in urban and suburban areas. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reports that nearly 75 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes happen in urban areas.
- The design of roads, highways, intersections, and motor vehicles. Road designers generally focus on moving traffic. They do not take walkers into account or leave sufficient room for pedestrians in areas of heavy foot traffic.
- Powerful vehicles, such as SUVs, are often involved in pedestrian crashes. Between 2009 and 2016, fatal SUV-pedestrian crashes increased by 81 percent, compared to 46 percent for all vehicles.
- Most accidents happen in low visibility conditions or at night. More pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities happen between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm than other times of the day. Three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities nationwide occur in dark conditions.
- Pedestrian accidents often happen on the open road, as opposed to intersections.
- Accidents are often on roads that are busy or are major arteries.
- Speeding greatly increases the likelihood of a pedestrian collision, the severity of the injury, and the risk of a fatal pedestrian accident.
Factors Contributing to Driver Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents
Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care. Failure to do so constitutes negligence. However, if a negligent driver hits a pedestrian, it is usually the pedestrian who suffers severe injuries or even death. Common factors contributing to negligent driving include:
- Distracted driving. Distractions can be visual, manual, or cognitive. Distracted driving involves all kinds of risky behavior that diverts your attention, such as eating and drinking (not just alcohol), grooming, dealing with pets and children, and adjusting the radio or navigation system. Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction.
- Alcohol-impaired driving. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, someone died every 48 minutes due to an alcohol-impaired traffic accident. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. On average, approximately 48 percent of pedestrian deaths involve alcohol use.
- Speeding. Driving over the speed limit is a leading cause of accidents, contributing to nearly 55 percent of accidents in the United States. A driver who is speeding has less time to react, and thus his or her car will hit a pedestrian with much greater impact.
- Drowsy driving. About one-third of Americans disclosed that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel within the past year, and over half stated that they have driven while drowsy.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Pedestrians who have the right-of-way when crossing intersections may be run down by drivers who fail to yield when turning.
- Failure to signal before turning. If a driver is turning and fails to signal, a pedestrian who is crossing the road has no warning and may be injured.
- Failure to obey traffic signals or signs. When drivers fail to obey all traffic signs and signals, they put pedestrians at risk. Many drivers fail to come to complete stops at crosswalks and intersections.
- Failure to obey school regulations. School zones are often crowded with children, buses, and impatient drivers. Drivers must obey all signs, speed limits, and drop off/pick up rules in school zones to ensure safety.
- Failure to check behind the vehicle. It is essential to use every possible precaution to avoid hitting a pedestrian when backing up.
Florida Laws Regarding Pedestrian Accidents
Under Florida law, motorists must take particular care when pedestrians are present to avoid colliding with one. According to Florida law: “Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.” For example, if there is a crosswalk, and the pedestrian has the signal to walk, the driver must allow the pedestrian to cross the street. Reasonable care is the degree of caution and concern a prudent driver would use in the same or similar circumstances. Negligence may involve an act or an omission. A driver who is negligent in causing a crash is liable to pay for the resulting damages. If a driver does not pay attention, maintain control of the car, or obey traffic laws, he or she may be liable for negligence. However, pedestrians also have a corresponding duty under Florida law to maintain care when crossing the road or walking on Florida’s roadways. Under Florida law, pedestrians must obey all laws applicable to non-vehicles. Pedestrians must obey any traffic control signals at intersections. A pedestrian must also obey any traffic device that is specifically applicable to the pedestrian, unless a police officer directs otherwise. If there is a sidewalk, walking along and upon the part of the road intended for motor vehicles is prohibited. A pedestrian may not leave a place of safety and walk into the path of a vehicle, as that would make it impossible for the driver to yield.
Naturally, when a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian, who likely has little or no protection, the pedestrian will probably be injured, possibly killed. The type of vehicle, how fast it was traveling, and the age and physical condition of the pedestrian all affect the severity of the resulting injuries. However, in a pedestrian accident, injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, and extremities are likely. The most common injuries sustained in pedestrian accidents include:
- Brain injuries. Injuries to the head and brain may be minor, but in many cases, they are catastrophic.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord contains vital nerves that transmit messages from the brain to the body, so any type of spinal cord damage is very serious.
- Internal injuries. These injuries may not be detected right away, but they can have serious consequences.
- Pelvic injuries. Pedestrians that get hit by a car may suffer from various types of pelvic fractures.
- Bone fractures. Bone fractures are common injuries in pedestrian accidents and can lead to complications, such as infection.
- Wrongful Death. In many cases, a pedestrian accident may be fatal.
Compensation in a Pedestrian Accident
The compensation awarded in a pedestrian accident case may include: If a pedestrian has sustained serious injuries after being struck by a motor vehicle, a lawsuit may seek to recover compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses: A victim may receive compensation for current and future expenses reasonably related to the injury. These may include emergency treatment, hospital bills, ambulance fees, rehabilitation, therapy, surgery, and other related expenses.
- Adaptive equipment: Wheelchair ramps or other necessary modifications to your home or vehicle.
- Current and future lost income: If the injury sustained causes the pedestrian to miss time at work, they may be able to recover compensation for the lost wages that they otherwise would have earned had the accident not occurred.
- Pain and suffering: This includes a payment to compensate the injured party for the physical pain endured as a result of the accident.
- Mental anguish: The victim may receive compensation for types of mental or emotional suffering, such as anxiety, fear, depression, grief, and trauma.
- Loss of consortium: This term refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries.
- Funeral expenses: Should a pedestrian not survive an accident, surviving family members may seek compensation to cover funeral costs.
In some cases, the court may award punitive damages or exemplary damages, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
What You Can Do to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents
Both drivers and pedestrians can take steps to avoid pedestrian accidents.
Tips for Drivers
- Good visibility is critical. When you get in your car, adjust your seat and mirrors, and clean your windshield.
- Don’t drive while distracted. If you must tend to someone or something, find a safe place to pull over.
- Check your mirrors and then continue to check them when backing up or in crowded areas.
- Don’t speed.
- Use caution in bad weather conditions. Rain, snow, fog, or other poor weather can impair your visibility and your ability to stop quickly.
- Use your turn signals. You are letting other vehicles know your intentions, as well as pedestrians.
Tips for Pedestrians
- If there is a sidewalk available, use it.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals, and cross at crosswalks or intersections.
- Never assume a driver sees you or that the driver will stop for you.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t walk when impaired by alcohol or drugs, and avoid using distracting devices while walking.
- Wear visible clothing, and use reflective materials and flashlights, as needed.
- Check for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
Tampa Pedestrian Accident FAQ
Victims of Tampa-area pedestrian traffic accidents often have pressing questions about their legal rights. Fortunately, the team at Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has answers to those questions. Responses to the most frequently asked questions appear below. If you want to know more about your rights after suffering injuries in a Tampa pedestrian accident, then contact a knowledgeable local attorney today.
Can I sue for my pedestrian accident injuries?
We would need to know more to tell you for certain. Generally speaking, pedestrian-involved traffic accidents should never happen. Vehicles should not hit pedestrians, period. When they do, that often means someone other than the pedestrian made a dangerous decision or engaged in a careless or reckless action. That person (and/or a company answerable for that person’s actions) could be held legally liable for the pedestrian’s injuries (subject to no-fault insurance rules, which we discuss below). In other words, in many pedestrian accident cases, the pedestrian victim will have the right to sue someone. Not always, of course. In rare instances, the pedestrian alone bears the blame for getting hurt in a traffic incident. To find out if you can sue for your pedestrian traffic accident injuries, speak with an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney right away.
What do no-fault insurance rules have to do with my right to compensation?
It depends on whether you are a registered Florida car owner. If you have registered a personal vehicle in Florida, then you probably already know that you have a legal obligation to purchase “personal injury protection” (PIP) insurance, also known as “no-fault” coverage. This insurance covers you against medical and disability-related costs associated with any injury you suffer in a traffic accident, including an accident in which you suffer injuries as a pedestrian. Under Florida law, your PIP coverage serves as the “primary” insurance to pay for traffic accident-related medical and disability costs. The law limits your rights to seek compensation from the “at-fault” party in a traffic accident to those situations in which you suffered severe injuries (or death) and the costs associated with those injuries exceed your PIP coverage limits. So, if you suffer only minor injuries in a Tampa pedestrian accident and you carry PIP insurance, then you may not sue someone else for damages. However, Tampa pedestrian accidents frequently inflict serious injuries, and victims rack up expenses far beyond their PIP coverage limits. As a result, in numerous cases, the pedestrian victim will have the right to sue an “at-fault” party for damages. The victim may typically to sue the party at-fault if the victim does not carry PIP coverage (say, because the victim does not own a car). Speak with an experienced Tampa pedestrian accident injury attorney to determine the effect of no-fault insurance rules on your eligibility to sue for damages.
Who can I sue for damages after a pedestrian accident?
Assuming a lawyer concludes you may sue for your injuries in a Tampa pedestrian accident, the lawyer’s job is to figure out who has legal liability to you for damages. One or more individuals or entities may owe you compensation. Every Tampa pedestrian-involved traffic accident has its own unique circumstances, of course, but lawyers frequently investigate the following parties for potential liability:
- Motorists who engage in careless or reckless actions behind the wheel that lead to a collision with a pedestrian, such as texting while driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, or aggressive driving in pedestrian areas.
- Businesses that employ motorists who strike pedestrians with company vehicles while on the job (such as a delivery truck colliding with a pedestrian at an intersection);
- Local and state government entities responsible for designing, building, and maintaining safe road facilities for pedestrians, if their carelessness puts pedestrians at risk (such as designing an intersection with poor sight lines, or failing to fix malfunctioning traffic control devices);
- Manufacturers of automotive equipment selling defective products that pose an unreasonable danger to the public by increasing the likelihood of a driver losing control and colliding with a pedestrian.
We offer these potentially liable parties as examples, only. Every Tampa pedestrian accident is different. To determine who may have legal liability to you for the injuries you suffered as a pedestrian in a traffic accident, speak with an experienced and knowledgeable local pedestrian crash injury attorney today.
How much is my Tampa pedestrian accident claim worth?
It depends. Just as the parties who may have legal liability to a pedestrian accident victim differ from crash-to-crash, so does the amount of money a victim may recover for injuries. The factors affecting the potential amount of a recovery can often include:
- The severity of injuries the pedestrian victim suffers, which influences the financial impact of those injuries on the victim’s life;
- The age, family status, and general state of health of the pedestrian victim, as these factors can affect the calculation of the victim’s future financial losses;
- The impact of the injuries on the pedestrian victim’s day-to-day life, such as the degree of physical and emotional difficulty the victim faces daily, and the harm an injury causes to the victim’s ability to enjoy life and personal relationships;
- The degree of dispute the circumstances of the traffic incident generate over who has liability and how much money the victim deserves as compensation;
- The number of parties involved in the accident, which can affect how complicated the case gets; and
- The financial resources of those parties with legal liability, such as whether they carry liability insurance or have assets available to pay damages.
Experienced lawyers cannot promise a Tampa pedestrian accident victim any particular financial result in a case. Too many factors beyond the victim’s and the lawyer’s control influence the outcome. However, the most reliable way to determine the potential value of a case is to work with a knowledgeable Tampa personal injury attorney with experience representing pedestrian accident victims.
The accident happened outside a crosswalk. Does that matter?
Maybe, but that should not stop you from connecting with an attorney to discuss your rights. Florida law requires pedestrians to obey traffic control signals, to stick to sidewalks and crosswalks when available, to walk on the left shoulder of roads with no sidewalk, and to yield the right-of-way to cars whenever crossing a lane of traffic lacking a crosswalk. These common-sense rules protect pedestrian and motorist safety. They do not, however, authorize vehicles to strike pedestrians in a roadway. That is never okay. Technically, violating a rule of the road by crossing the street outside a crosswalk might marginally affect how much money you have the right to receive for your injuries, but it usually does not prevent you from recovering compensation altogether. We repeat: pedestrian actions should never happen. Motorists have a special responsibility to make sure that they do not occur. Accordingly, we always encourage Tampa pedestrian-involved traffic accident victims to speak with a skilled attorney about their rights to seek compensation for their injuries and losses.
Can I take steps to help my case for compensation?
Usually, yes. What steps you may take can vary widely, depending upon the nature of your injuries and the circumstances of your accident. However, as a general matter, following the tips below can protect your personal and legal interests after you suffer harm as a pedestrian in a Tampa traffic accident:
- Seek and follow appropriate medical treatment. Most pedestrian accident victims sustain sufficiently-serious injuries that they need a ride to the hospital after a collision. So, odds are they will receive emergency medical care. However, that is not always the case. If a vehicle strikes you in Tampa, and you have the good fortune of “walking away” from it, do not assume that you have escaped serious injury. A lot of potentially deadly injuries typical of pedestrian accidents, such as internal bleeding and brain trauma, show symptoms slowly. A doctor, however, can spot them immediately and provide appropriate care that could save your life. In other words, after a Tampa pedestrian traffic accident, go to the emergency room or follow up right away with your regular doctor or at an urgent care center. Your life could very well depend on it. And at any rate, by visiting the doctor you generate medical records that link your injuries to the accident, which is important for establishing your rights to compensation.
- Do not agree to any kind of informal or formal “settlement” on your own. Motorists who strike pedestrians have been known to panic and offer to pay the victim on the spot to avoid getting lawyers or the authorities involved. Never agree to this; it could violate the law, and in any event may seriously jeopardize your legal rights to obtain compensation through a lawsuit. Similarly, insurance companies representing the parties who caused the accident may reach out to you offering a settlement payment. The offer of ‘cash on the barrelhead’ may seem tempting, but we encourage you to resist the urge to take it. All settlements come with legal strings attached, usually a requirement that you “release” the insurance company and its client from future liability for your injuries. Unsolicited settlement offers virtually always try to buy that release from you at a lower price, before you have had the chance to gain an accurate understanding of the financial needs the accident inflicted on you. Do not talk to the insurance representative except to give your attorney’s contact information.
- Hire an experienced Tampa pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible. You have important legal rights that need protecting. A lawyer can help. Do not leave yourself exposed to the insurance company and defense attorney tactics. Instead, get an experienced lawyer working for you immediately, to give yourself a line of defense against those who might try to take advantage of you.
Is a pedestrian accident injury lawyer expensive?
No. Most Tampa pedestrian accident injury lawyers offer a free consultation. The vast majority (including the team at Sibley Dolman and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA) work for injured Tampa pedestrian-involved traffic accident victims “on contingency,” which means that the lawyers only get paid if and when their clients recover compensation for their injuries as a result of the lawyers’ efforts. Lawyers for pedestrian accident victims typically agree with their clients, up-front and in plain language, on a percentage of any recovery the lawyer will keep as legal fees. Personal injury lawyers generally do not charge clients hourly fees or pre-paid retainers, so beware of any lawyer who asks you for money up-front to take your Tampa pedestrian accident injury case. At a bare minimum, a lawyer who makes that request had better have a very clear, understandable explanation for making it. Remember that you have no obligation to hire any particular lawyer. Choose carefully so that you can have confidence that your lawyer will represent your interests with vigor and diligence.
How soon is too soon to call a pedestrian accident lawyer for help?
There is no such thing as too soon. Do not wait to call a lawyer after being injured in a Tampa pedestrian accident. Some folks may tell you that there is no rush in calling an attorney for help after a car collides with you as a pedestrian. Disregard that advice; it is just plain wrong. The best time to call a lawyer is as soon as possible after the accident, before important evidence goes missing, and before witnesses’ memories begin to fade. You can be sure the parties at-fault for your injuries will lawyer up. You deserve, and need, sophisticated legal counsel working on your side of the case, too. The sooner a lawyer begins collecting evidence, identifying the parties at-fault, and representing your interests in negotiations and court appearances, the better your chances of recovering every penny of compensation the law entitles you to for your injuries and losses. Contact our experienced Tampa pedestrian accident injury attorneys without delay for your free case evaluation.
How a Tampa Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help
There are strict time limits, called statutes of limitations, for filing personal injury lawsuits, so it is best to contact an attorney right away after your accident. An attorney can gather evidence, such as police reports, witness testimony, scene recreations, and footage from cameras in the area, to help build a solid case. If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident, you need our experienced Tampa pedestrian accident lawyers to review your case and help maximize your compensation. Our experienced, dedicated attorneys will review your case, discuss your legal options, and work zealously to obtain compensation for the full cost of your injuries. For a free, no-risk consultation, call Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or contact us online.