A Dangerous Walk: Record High Risk of Fatal Florida Pedestrian Accidents
A sidewalk stroll in the South Florida sunshine should be a safe way to spend an afternoon. Unfortunately, walking alongside, in, around, and across Florida roadways is quite dangerous – and it’s only gotten worse in recent years. According to a new report by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, the rate of deadly Florida pedestrian accidents ranks No. 2 in the nation, rising by 31 percent between 2020 and 2021. Nationally, drivers struck and killed nearly 7,500 people last year. That’s about 20 pedestrian accident deaths every day – more in any single year for the past 40.
Pedestrian deaths are most common in urban areas, particularly at night, and especially October-January. People 70 and older accounted for 38 percent of pedestrian accident deaths. High vehicle speed, increasingly larger vehicle size, lacking pedestrian infrastructure, and growing driver distraction are all cited as contributing causes to this serious and growing problem.
These stark statistics overshadow the fact that every single one of those numbers is the devastating loss of someone’s somebody – mom, dad, brother, sister, daughter, son, grandparent, or friend. Compounding the grief for so many is the fact that a sizable percentage of Florida pedestrian accidents are caused by hit-and-run drivers.
Our team of Fort Myers personal injury lawyers recognizes the unique challenges in pursuing civil litigation for pedestrian accidents. We have a track record of notable success in this area, even with more challenging cases. We’re committed to helping Southwest Florida pedestrian accident victims and their loved ones navigate their next steps, identifying avenues for potential legal action and offering advice on the most viable approaches.
Financial Compensation for Florida Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians are vulnerable road users, more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to sustain serious and fatal injuries in a crash. Common injuries caused by pedestrian accidents include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractured bones (especially arms, wrists, legs, and pelvis), extensive cuts, burns, abrasions, and bruising to the head, face, legs, and hands.
Unfortunately, despite the higher likelihood of more serious injuries, pedestrians often have a tougher time collecting damages when they’re injured. Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system requires almost all motorists to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that covers losses to the insured up to that $10,000 – regardless of fault. But pedestrians don’t have to carry PIP. If they happen to have a car, they might coincidentally have a PIP policy. If so, they could seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages from this policy – assuming they suffered a direct hit from the vehicle. If they do not have their own PIP policy, they may be able to file for compensation from the driver’s PIP policy, regardless of fault. But $10,000 usually doesn’t go far in pedestrian accident cases, where injuries are more likely to severe.
In cases of serious injury and wrongful death (when damages far exceed any available PIP coverage), plaintiffs can step outside the no-fault system and seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability insurer. Even if the pedestrian was partially at-fault for what happened, Florida’s comparative fault statute allows for the collection of damages based on respective degrees of wrongdoing. So if a driver is 75 percent at-fault, he or she will be responsible to pay 75 percent of the total damages.
Another possible option in serious injury/wrongful death cases is a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This would be an auto insurance policy that listed the pedestrian as a named insured (either the main policyholder or a resident family member). UM/UIM coverage can be useful in Florida pedestrian accident cases wherein:
- The at-fault driver is not identified (hit-and-run).
- The at-fault driver does not have insurance (1 in 5 drivers do not).
- The at-fault driver does not have enough car insurance or personal assets to be able to adequately compensate the plaintiff.
There may also be opportunities for third-party liability claims under some circumstances. An injury lawyer would be able to provide more insight after reviewing the basic facts in your case.
Justice and Accountability for Florida Pedestrians
As our longtime Fort Myers pedestrian accident lawyers can explain, pursuing legal action in these cases isn’t just about the money. No amount of money could ever possibly come close to replacing a lost loved one. But there are still several good reasons why surviving family members should consider pursuing claims for compensation. Among those:
- Accountability. Pedestrian accident claims can be a vehicle for accountability for the carelessness or negligence led to such a profound loss. That could be the driver(s) involved. It could be a government agency that failed to address an unsafe intersection. It could be a local bar who served underage patrons before they got behind the wheel. It could be the owner of a vehicle who knowingly handed over their keys to someone who wouldn’t take that responsibility seriously. It could be the manufacturer of a vehicle with some inherent flaw that contributed to the crash or severity of injuries. Accountability can be a means for closure.
- Financial survival. The loss of a household member is emotionally devastating, but it can have huge financial implications as well. On top of medical bills and funeral expenses, the loss of regular contributions the decedent made to the family with both their time and income can leave families financially underwater. Legal action helps buoy dependents as they work toward rebuilding their lives.
- Awareness. Meaningful change often only happens when the full impact of an issue is made known. Because so many Florida pedestrian accidents are the direct result of driver carelessness, poorly-designed roads with high speed limits, and widespread societal distraction, pursuing Florida pedestrian accident claims for damages raises awareness about this growing epidemic of preventable traffic deaths. The hope is that the more it’s brought to the forefront of our collective conscious, the more care people will begin using when they’re behind the wheel.
Remember: With personal injury and wrongful death claims in Florida, you do not pay attorney’s fees upfront – or at all if your claim is not successful. If you have questions about recovering damages for Florida pedestrian accidents, our dedicated team of Florida injury lawyers can help.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free consultation.
Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2021 Preliminary Data, Governors Highway Safety Association
More Blog Entries:
Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawsuits: What You Need to Know, May 27, 2020, Florida Pedestrian Accidents Lawyer Blog