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Accidents involving pedestrians are more common than you might think. In 2015, nearly 5400 pedestrians lost their lives in accidents involving vehicles, and an additional 129,000 were treated in emergency departments across the country for injuries. Unfortunately, no statistic can begin to illustrate what happens in the days and weeks following a pedestrian accident. If you’ve incurred injuries as the result of a pedestrian accident, it’s helpful to discuss your legal options with a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney.
Usually, injured pedestrians will seek recourse from the driver who hit them. In some circumstances, however, a third party may be partial to blame. For example, a municipality may be responsible for your injuries if it had faulty traffic control devices, unsafe streets, or a lack of crosswalks in a busy area.
One of the most common questions injured pedestrians ask following an accident is who will pay their medical bills. This depends on the state in which you reside. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, and every driver is required to carry personal injury protection coverage. In this case, the at-fault driver’s insurance company would be responsible for any medical expenses. You may also be able to request compensation for lost wages and the cost of physical therapy or rehabilitation.
If a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, the driver is often at fault, even if the pedestrian was not crossing on a crosswalk. Florida law states that drivers should be alert to any hazards on the road, including pedestrians. In other words, a driver will usually be at fault for a pedestrian accident, unless hitting the pedestrian was unavoidable (for example, the pedestrian tried to beat traffic or didn’t look before crossing the road).
Here’s a caveat: jaywalking is illegal in most municipalities in Florida, including Fort Lauderdale. Even if the driver fails to avoid hitting a pedestrian, the pedestrian may still be partially at fault for jaywalking. Since Florida is a “comparative negligence state,” your personal injury claim would be reduced by your degree of fault.
This concept is easier to understand with an example: say you were involved in a pedestrian accident and incurred $100,000 in damages. An investigation, however, reveals you were 20% at fault for the accident. In this case, your maximum settlement would be $80,000.
If you’ve been injured in any type of pedestrian accident, call the police (or have someone call them for you). If possible, have someone take photos of the accident scene, the car that hit you, and the names and numbers of any eyewitnesses.
Next, seek immediate medical attention. If you’re in serious pain, go to an emergency facility. This is not only what’s best for your health, but for your personal injury claim. Insurance adjusters and juries may assume that you didn’t suffer as much if you don’t seek timely treatment for your injuries. Lastly, getting medical treatment creates an official record of your injuries that’s admissible in court.
Under Florida law, individuals operating motor vehicles have a heightened obligation to avoid crashes with pedestrians. Still, the duty for motorists to use extra caution when faced with pedestrians on or near roadways is not necessarily absolute. Pedestrians also have a duty to abide by traffic devices and laws. For example, most drivers know to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are using a marked crosswalk. But what are drivers and pedestrians expected to do when there is no crosswalk? In the absence of markings or traffic devices, pedestrians are expected to exercise reasonable judgment and not assume that drivers approaching the area will yield. Also, if drivers have the green light, pedestrians are actually expected to yield to drivers.
When attempting to determine liability in a pedestrian vs. car accident, a number of considerations must be taken into account. For instance, the injured party (known as the plaintiff) will be required to show that they’ve been injured due to the driver’s (defendant’s) negligence. It must also be shown that the driver owed the pedestrian a duty of care and that duty was breached, thus causing the harm that the pedestrian experienced. Depending on the specifics of the case, proving this may be easier said than done. Accordingly, accident victims are encouraged to seek legal counsel from an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
After you’ve received appropriate medical care, get in touch with a personal injury attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs will protect your best interests and serve as your legal advocate throughout the process. Insurance companies may try to approach you with a low offer or deflect blame to another party. We’ll work to achieve a settlement that’s fair and appropriately represents your bills, lost wages, and suffering.
Your personal injury claims process begins with a free initial consultation. Let us review the specifics of your case and help you decide on your next best steps. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.