Given the significant differences in size and weight between pedestrians and most roadway vehicles, it should not come as a great surprise that collisions involving them can and do result in devastating harm. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that in the United States, there is roughly one crash-related pedestrian fatality every two hours.
And according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2013 alone saw 4,735 pedestrian deaths, a figure which represents a startling reality of which everyone must be aware.
Accidents of this type routinely produce profound personal injuries, lasting disabilities, and sometimes death. The resulting financial, physical, and emotional strain suffered by victims and their families cannot be overstated, and it is essential that such individuals take prompt action to preserve their rights.
A Clearwater pedestrian accident lawyer will fight to pursue significant financial compensation, justice and accountability for those who experience this type of life-altering misfortune. To discuss your case and take the first steps toward recovery consult with an injury attorney in Clearwater today.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety reports that in the first half of 2016, the state saw 4,020 crashes involving pedestrians, with 249 such individuals losing their lives. Though it is certainly true that anyone who takes to the streets on foot runs the risk of entanglement in an incident of this type, there are certain categories of individuals which statistically suffer more than others.
Information from the CDC shows that pedestrians 65 and over comprised 19 percent of accident fatalities and 10 percent of injuries in 2013. In that same year, 20 percent of children 14 or younger who died in traffic accidents were traveling on foot. Clearly, pedestrian crashes impact some of the most vulnerable among us, and that is why it is important for victims to have a zealous advocate on their side in the form of a pedestrian attorney in Clearwater.
Common Causes of Florida Pedestrian Accidents
Understanding how pedestrian accidents happen is crucial to avoiding them and minimizing the number of pedestrian fatalities and injuries yearly. Some of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted Driving – Lots of pedestrian accidents happen when drivers are not 100% focused on driving. Distracted driving can happen when drivers are using their cell phones for texting, calling, emailing, etc., tinkering with the radio or the GPS, talking to passengers, grooming, eating, or even drinking a beverage.
- Left-Hand Turns – Pedestrians are more likely to get hit by vehicles that are turning left than those that are turning right, and this applies even to crosswalks and intersections with signals. The reason for this is that drivers who are turning left are more focused on whether there are oncoming vehicles and whether it’s safe for them to turn, so they forget to pay attention to pedestrians that may be crossing.
- Unmarked Crosswalks – Although many intersections have designated and properly lined crosswalks, many don’t. The absence of these clearly marked crosswalks may result in drivers forgetting about pedestrians, raising the risk of pedestrian vs. vehicle collisions.
- Speeding – When a vehicle is traveling faster than normal, the driver might not have enough time to react safely and avoid a crash with a pedestrian. Likewise, speeding raises the risk of more serious injury or death to pedestrians.
- Impaired Driving – Similar to speeding, drivers driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are less likely to notice pedestrians or react appropriately when pedestrians are around their vehicle.
- Rolling Stops – Drivers might not notice nearby pedestrians when they fail to stop in time at a traffic signal or stop sign.
- Not Observing Safety Rules in School Zones – Kids, in particular, have an increased risk of getting hit by vehicles if drivers fail to follow the safety rules when driving in school zones.
- Defective or Improperly Installed Traffic Control Devices – Because drivers, pedestrians, and all other road users rely on properly working traffic control devices, defective devices can easily result in catastrophic injuries, even death.
- Driver Inexperience – Inexperienced drivers are less likely to be aware of where pedestrians are usually positioned in the roadway and are also less likely to react appropriately to pedestrians.
Is Jaywalking Illegal in Florida?
It’s important to note that jaywalking isn’t a legal term, and you will not find it in any Florida statutes. But certain actions that are considered to be jaywalking, like crossing a red light, are, in fact, illegal. In most locations, however, crossing midblock, which is likewise considered jaywalking, may be legal.
Do Pedestrians Always Have The Right-of-Way?
Usually, but not always. Remember that it’s the responsibility of all road users to do everything that they possibly can to prevent a traffic accident. Florida statutes only indicate who must give up or yield the right-of-way under specific circumstances to help motorists and pedestrians understand when and why they have to yield the right-of-way. These statutes, along with common sense and courtesy, help promote traffic safety for everyone.
Common Types of Injuries
Sadly, the injuries sustained by pedestrians who collide with roadway vehicles tend to be extremely serious in nature. Some of the most common categories of harm suffered by pedestrians involved in accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Bone fractures
- Lacerations and resulting scars/disfigurement
- Blood vessel and tissue damage necessitating amputation
- Post traumatic stress disorder
Even those who are able to eventually recover often must endure a lengthy, painful and costly process of rehabilitation.
Victims who are not so lucky may have a lifetime of cognitive and physical impairment and disability with which to contend, forced to live a life they barely recognize. The inability to work, the mounting medical bills and the expense of ongoing care can place entire families at the brink of bankruptcy.
Filing a Lawsuit
Because of the toll pedestrian accidents can take on virtually all aspects of a victim’s life, it is critical that those harmed in this way secure an experienced Clearwater pedestrian accident attorney as a means to safeguard their rights.
Filing a lawsuit may be a sound option for obtaining the financial resources needed to pay for medical bills, accessibility equipment and home modifications, physical therapy, lost wages and other items of loss stemming from the accident. In cases of pedestrian fatality, it may be possible for families to receive financial support for dependents, compensation for the loss of familial relationships and burial costs.
Benefit of Hiring a Lawyer
The aftermath of a serious injury event is inevitably a time of anger, confusion and worry. However, a Clearwater pedestrian accident lawyer stands prepared to step into the fray to fight for the compensation to which you and your loved ones are entitled. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help, contact us today.