Walking is an everyday activity, and many people spend at least a small portion of their day as pedestrians, even if they don’t realize it. People walk from parking lots to their workplaces or schools. Some walk from work or school to restaurants or shops on lunch breaks. Tourists sometimes walk from site to site while visiting a city. People also walk for exercise or relaxation.
Pedestrians are at risk when walking on sidewalks or across roadways. In 2020, pedestrians accounted for 6,516 of the 38,824 fatalities from traffic accidents in the United States, and the number of pedestrian fatalities has been steadily increasing for over a decade.
Pedestrians may suffer serious injuries if hit by a car. If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may wonder if a pedestrian can sue if hit by a car. Learning about a pedestrian’s legal rights can help you understand if you have grounds for a lawsuit after your accident.
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Florida’s pedestrian laws
In addition to traffic laws, Florida has pedestrian laws pedestrians must obey. Following pedestrian laws can prevent pedestrian accidents and save lives.
For example, Florida’s laws clearly state that pedestrians must follow traffic lights and walk on sidewalks when provided. These laws ensure pedestrians don’t run out in front of moving vehicles or walk on or near a road when they don’t have to. These laws also clarify who has the right of way if a pedestrian is crossing the street outside a crosswalk.
Paying for pedestrian injuries
Florida is a no-fault state. Consequently, Florida law requires all drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Drivers injured when walking can use their PIP insurance to cover accident-related medical expenses, including hospital stays and ambulance fees. It also provides financial compensation if you miss time off work.
Suppose you don’t drive and don’t have PIP insurance. In that case, you may be able to claim expenses through a family member’s PIP insurance policy. You may also have grounds to seek compensation from the driver responsible for your injuries.
Fault must be determined
Whether you have grounds for a lawsuit depends on who was at fault for the accident.
What was the driver doing when the accident occurred?
There are many reasons a driver who causes a pedestrian accident may be at fault. Common actions that cause pedestrian accidents include the following:
- Distracted driving: Drivers using smartphones, eating food, or engaging in other activities that take their eyes or mind off the road or their hand off the steering wheel can cause distracted driving accidents
- Driving while intoxicated: Alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications impair a driver’s ability to function, and driving under the influence is a common cause of pedestrian accidents
- Speeding: Drivers may not have enough time to slow down and avoid a pedestrian accident when exceeding the speed limit
Drivers who violate traffic laws and cause pedestrian accidents may be liable for damages. Any negligent action on the driver’s part that causes injuries or death may justify a legal claim.
What was the pedestrian doing when the accident occurred?
Suppose a pedestrian is jaywalking because they don’t want to walk to the crosswalk, so they decide to cross the road without having the right of way, and a car hits them. The pedestrian could be at fault for the accident.
A pedestrian would also be at fault if they walked out in front of a vehicle that didn’t have enough time to stop and caused an accident. Pedestrians must follow applicable traffic and pedestrian laws.
What happens if both the driver and the pedestrian share fault?
Although Florida is a no-fault state, it does allow comparative negligence claims in traffic accident lawsuits. This means that each at-fault party is responsible for their portion of fault.
Suppose a pedestrian was in an accident involving two vehicles. The accident investigation concluded that Driver A was 60% responsible for a pedestrian accident, and Driver B was 40% responsible. In that case, Driver A’s insurance should pay 60% of the damages, while Driver B’s insurance should pay 40%.
If a driver and pedestrian are both found to be at fault for an accident, the party with the more significant share of liability will pay the difference in damages to the other party. Therefore, if the driver was 70% responsible and the pedestrian was 30% responsible, the pedestrian could receive 40% of the damages from the at-fault driver.
Common injuries in a pedestrian accident
Pedestrians may suffer severe injuries in traffic accidents because cars are larger and heavier and move faster. Consequently, pedestrians may be knocked into the air and suffer injuries when landing and injuries caused by the force of impact.
Common pedestrian accident injuries can include the following:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Severe injuries may require hospitalization, surgery, or long-term treatment. Many pedestrian injuries, such as TBIs and SCIs, can be permanent.
What damages can be pursued?
Pedestrian accident victims can seek economic and non-economic damages from a lawsuit. Some pedestrians may also seek punitive damages.
Economic damages are actual expenses that can be calculated. These include bills and calculable losses or anticipated expenses. Typical economic damages may include the following:
- Burial or funeral expenses
- Childcare costs
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Property damage repairs
- Transportation costs
Non-economic damages don’t come with bills or hard dollar values. These damages offer compensation for emotional, psychological, and physical suffering. Victims can seek non-economic damages for many reasons, including the following:
- Loss of intimate relationship
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Punitive damages only apply to cases involving gross negligence. In these cases, the victim must demonstrate that the at-fault party engaged in reckless behavior that caused their injuries. A good example would be street racing in a residential area or a school zone. In this example, the driver is breaking the law and doing so in an area likely to have a lot of pedestrians and traffic. Therefore, it can be argued they knew there was a high risk their actions could harm others and still acted recklessly.
Factors that influence settlement amounts
Multiple factors determine settlement amounts for pedestrian accident lawsuits, including the following:
- Injuries: Victims with more severe injuries or a higher number of injuries may receive higher settlement amounts because of their high medical bills
- Number of victims: Suppose you’re walking in a crosswalk with your family, and a speeding driver hits your family. Your settlement may be significantly higher if you have expenses to claim for multiple victims. Suppose the accident claims the life of your spouse and injures you and your child. You could seek claims for burial expenses, lost income from your spouse, and loss of consortium for the loss of your partner, in addition to claims for your medical expenses and related costs.
- Percentage of fault: You’ll receive a higher settlement from a driver solely responsible for the accident
- Personal expenses: You can seek more compensation if you have more expenses stemming from your injuries. Suppose you work full-time, provide in-home care for an aging parent, and look after your minor children. You’re unable to do this while recovering from your accident. Your damages could include reimbursement for your lost wages, in-home care expenses, and childcare fees.
- Punitive damages: Victims may receive higher settlements if there’s a compelling case for punitive damages
Call Bernstein & Maryanoff today if you’ve been hit by a car
Contact Miami car accident attorneys Bernstein & Maryanoff to discuss your pedestrian accident. We’ll investigate, file the legal paperwork, help calculate the damages you can seek, handle settlement negotiations, and use evidence and case law to argue for you to receive the maximum compensation after your pedestrian accident.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
Turn to pedestrian accident experts Bernstein & Maryanoff to find out if you can sue for your pedestrian accident injury.
McCarthy, N. (2020). U.S. Pedestrian Deaths Hit Highest Level in 30 Years.
About the Author
Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.
Jack Bernstein is a hard-working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you’ve been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.