Pedestrian Accident Attorneys In Florida
Pedestrian accidents in Florida are often harmful and damaging. Being struck by a vehicle is a leading cause of injury-related deaths. Pedestrians often share Florida roads with cars, trucks, bikes, and buses given the sunny weather and active lifestyles popular in the state.
Foot traffic is part of normal daily life in Florida. Sadly, walking or jogging may become a dangerous activity with pedestrians being hit by cars and suffering serious injuries or death. When a pedestrian accident occurs, a victim has the right under Florida law to pursue a claim for damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The driver, as well as his or her insurance company or lawyer is likely to bring up questions of fault, and whether or not Florida pedestrian laws were followed by the person who was struck by the car, bicycle, or other motorized vehicle. Parker Waichman is familiar with all of the regulations and rules involved with pedestrian accidents in Florida.
Who is a Pedestrian under Florida law?
Under Florida Statute 316.003(28), any person on foot is considered a “pedestrian.” For an individual to be a pedestrian, there must be some sort of movement or motion occurring. For example, a person working on a stalled vehicle is not considered a pedestrian under Florida law; however, under certain circumstances, a bicyclist is sometimes considered a pedestrian for no-fault law purposes.
Florida Right of Way Laws
In the state of Florida, individuals walking along the street and individuals driving vehicles on that street have equal rights to use the roadway and both are considered to have a duty to respect the other’s rights of movement and must exercise reasonable care while walking or driving. Generally, pedestrians and motorists have a reciprocal right to use all public roads in Florida.
The general legal rule of equal rights to the roadway is limited in Florida by specific laws applicable to pedestrians walking alongside motor vehicles and laws that define the duties of drivers to pedestrians. Also, other elements are important such as the time, the manner in which the pedestrian is moving—running, strolling—; and the age of the pedestrian, as children are treated differently under the law.
Florida Pedestrians Duty of Care, Tort Threshold
In most cases in which a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian in the state of Florida, certain tort thresholds must be reached to recover damages for pain and suffering. A Florida threshold injury is an injury that causes significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, or that causes permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability that is not scarring or disfigurement, or significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.
Under Florida statute 627.737, if an individual is from another state or is a foreigner visiting Florida and is struck by a motor vehicle, the pedestrian may not have to meet these criteria to be entitled to pain and suffering.
The Florida Legislature passed specific laws concerning pedestrian accidents known as Florida Statute 316.130. The statute mandates that any accident involving a person who has been hit by a car in Florida will be reviewed by the police department, insurance adjusters, investigators, and attorneys.
Included in the Florida Pedestrian laws are explicit requirements concerning crosswalks, hitchhiking, sidewalks, and right of ways. There is significant statutory and case law—also known as court decisions—that address pedestrian accidents and related injury or death. Pedestrians who are in violation of pedestrian laws may be found liable for a what is known as a so-called “noncriminal traffic violation” under Florida Statute 316.130(19).
Drivers who violate Florida laws may face significantly harsher criminal and civil penalties for negligently causing a pedestrian accident in which the driver’s car hit and injured a pedestrian.
In Florida, not every driver is responsible in pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians must follow laws when walking on a Florida roadway. For example, if a Florida driver is maintaining the speed limit when driving and a pedestrian jaywalks, suddenly crosses the road, or emerges from behind parked vehicles, the pedestrian may be found negligent.
Florida pedestrian laws include that pedestrians must obey traffic lights, stop signs, and street markings unless a police officer directs them to do otherwise; must use available sidewalks—walking on a sidewalk is the law—; and must walk on the shoulder of the road, on its left side facing traffic, should there not be a sidewalk.
Fault for Florida Pedestrian Accidents
In Florida, everyone who operates a motor vehicle must exercise “ordinary, reasonable, or due care” toward pedestrians, including consideration of the apparent ability of the pedestrian, or the pedestrian’s lack of ability, to exercise care for his or her own safety on the road. Should the driver fail to meet that duty, the driver may be liable to the pedestrian for all allowable damages in a Florida personal injury claim.
Drivers on any Florida road must have the proper license for that vehicle in accordance with Florida traffic and safety laws. Should a driver see a pedestrian acting dangerously, the driver must take action to prevent an accident with that person.
Florida Drivers’ Special Duty of Care to Children
Children walking near moving traffic receive special protection under Florida laws. A specific jury instruction is given in personal injury cases involving pedestrian children that indicates that a motorist has an increased duty when the motorist knows, or should know, that children are on or near a street; this, regardless of where the child is located.
This instruction is typically applicable in situations near schools or other locations where children usually assemble. In 1952, the Florida Supreme Court wrote “The general rule … is that one manipulating a motor vehicle on the highway, whether backing, starting, or proceeding ahead, must exercise reasonable care, circumstances being the guide as to what constitutes reasonable care.
If the driver has reason to think that children may be near, reasonable caution requires that the driver be on the lookout for them.”
Common Pedestrian Injuries
Many pedestrian accidents involve serious injury, with many resulting in death. Consider that the impact of a motor vehicle on a person—regardless of speed—may be catastrophic and permanent. Some injuries include amputation of a limb, broken bones, spinal cord injury, scarring and disfigurement, and traumatic brain injury, to name some.
Questions Concerning Florida Pedestrian Accidents
If you or someone you know was injured in a pedestrian accident in Florida, the attorneys at Parker Waichman may be able to help you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your expenses, damages, and injuries. Collecting damages from the party who is allegedly at fault for the accident is sometimes complex; however, our Florida pedestrian attorneys have decades of successful experiences handling accidents claims.
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