As a pedestrian, you have duties and rights defined by your state’s law. With the increase in pedestrian accidents in West Palm Beach, Florida, it is important to know about them in detail. You might be the most careful person in the entire world and still find yourself in such a situation because of negligent drivers.
What happens when you are involved in an accident while walking on the road? You are likely to face major financial and physical damage in these accidents. You have all the right to seek compensation if it’s merited, but first, you will need a general overview on pedestrian accidents.
According to West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyers, you should know the following details when filing a pedestrian accident lawsuit in Florida:
What Are Pedestrian Accidents?
Pedestrians are people who walk, jog, or run on or near the road. People on skateboards, wheelchairs, and foot-powered scooters can also be classified as pedestrians. However, the exact definition of a pedestrian varies from state to state.
As a pedestrian, you could be at risk of being hit by a car under the following circumstances:
- Distracted Drivers: When drivers do not focus on the road, possibly because they are texting, eating, or talking to someone in the car – whatever the reason, distracted drivers are often unable to stop or yield in time when they see a pedestrian and crash into them.
- Drunk Drivers: Driving under the influence has been one of the biggest reasons for pedestrian accidents to date because alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to react in time. They are likely to lose control of their cars easily and then cause accidents.
- Speeding: When driving at a high speed, drivers cannot stop their vehicle in time even if they see a pedestrian crossing the road. This is often the case when people drive through a red light and end up in an accident because they were driving too fast.
- Improper Infrastructure: Some cities do not have adequate spaces dedicated to pedestrians. Additionally, the speed limits in a state are usually high. Urban areas are mostly crowded, so pedestrians have to walk alongside or near traffic.
- Negligence of Pedestrians: Drivers are not always at fault in cases of pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians that text while walking or do not follow the safety instructions designed for them are also likely to cause accidents.
What Kind of Injuries Do Pedestrians Sustain?
Although all kinds of road accidents put your life at risk, pedestrian accidents are even more dangerous. This is because pedestrians don’t have any vehicle to cushion the impact on their bodies. Therefore, as a pedestrian, you are more likely to sustain severe injuries even if the vehicle that hit you was driving at a slow speed.
Common injuries that pedestrians encounter after being hit by a vehicle include:
- Road Rash: Road surface is abrasive and your skin can be cut after scraping against it.
- Broken Bones: Vehicles are heavy and can break or fracture your bones when you collide with them. The bones in your hand, skull, ribs, and legs can fracture when a car hits you.
- Brain Injuries: When your head hits against something solid, it may affect your ability to think, reason, and/or remember things.
- Spinal Cord Damage: If the vehicle’s impact crushes your spinal cord, you may lose movement in some parts of your body. In a worst-case scenario, you may become completely paralyzed.
Determining the Blame
The negligence of drivers is the primary cause of pedestrian accidents. A driver who hits a pedestrian is usually considered the at-fault party, even if the pedestrian was not on a crosswalk. This is because drivers are required to stay alert while driving.
Municipal negligence also plays a part here. When the infrastructure of an area is faulty, it may become the leading cause of pedestrian accidents. For example, if there are not enough crosswalks in the area or the traffic lights fail to work, pedestrians can blame the local municipal authorities for their negligence.
Pedestrians might also be at fault if they are not careful on the roads. Crossing the road recklessly or failing to follow the rules of the roads means that they must share the blame with the other party.
Legal Options for Pedestrians after an Accident
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that the first source of compensation after a road accident is your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, regardless of who was at fault. Every car owner needs to have PIP coverage to cover their medical expenses and lost wages. This coverage also extends to situations where you are not in your vehicle but get hit as a pedestrian.
- What if you don’t have PIP coverage? In that case, the PIP coverage of the at-fault driver will compensate you.
- If the at-fault driver is unidentified or uninsured, you can receive compensation from your UM/UIM coverage.
- If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, you may have to rely on your health insurance policy to cover your medical expenses.
Filing a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit in Florida
If your expenses exceed the PIP coverage amount, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. At first, both parties and their insurance firms will try to settle the case through negotiations. If the negotiations are not successful, the case proceeds to the court.
West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyers can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit in Florida. To establish that the negligence of the other party caused the accident, you need to prove the following:
- The other party owed you a duty of care (responsibility to act safely)
- That party breached this duty of care
- Your injuries are a result of their negligence
- You suffered actual losses in terms of medical bills, disability, etc.
When you seek rightful compensation from the at-fault party, you can benefit from having the guidance of an experienced attorney on your side. Frankl Kominsky Personal Injury Lawyers offer free initial consultations to pedestrian accident victims in Florida (by appointment only). Contact them at your earliest convenience to discuss the details of your case.