Florida consistently has the undesirable distinction of being top-of-the-list when it comes to the number of pedestrian accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Florida pedestrian accidents cost our state $577 million annually, 19 percent of all motor vehicle crash-related costs. In the U.S., people are 7 times more likely to die as a pedestrian than from a natural disaster.
In the last decade, more than 5,000 pedestrians have been killed in Florida after being struck by a vehicle, and many thousands more have been seriously injured. Our state has seven of the most dangerous metropolitan communities for walking in the entire nation, with Cape Coral-Fort Myers consistently ranking No. 1.
At The Garvin Law Firm, our Fort Myers pedestrian accident attorneys work to help crash victims recover damages from the numerous sources that are available, primarily from automotive insurers. The fact that Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance can complicate the process for injured pedestrians, who unlike drivers aren't required to carry insurance just to cross the street.Driver Duty of Care to Pedestrians
Pedestrians are defined in Florida as any person who is afoot, which can include not only those who are walking, but also those in wheelchairs or on roller skates, rollerblades or skateboards (excludes bicyclists, though they too are vulnerable road users). F.S. 316.130 outlines Florida traffic rules pertaining to pedestrians. These provisions outline who has the right-of-way when pedestrians and motor vehicles interact.
The law states that every driver must exercise "due care" to avoid striking a pedestrian or any person in a human-powered vehicle - and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution anytime they observe a child or someone who is obviously confused or incapacitated. That means that even if a pedestrian was partially to blame for the collision (the legal term is "comparative fault"), the driver's insurer may still be compelled to pay for failure to exercise duty of care (also known as "negligence").Types of Florida Pedestrian Accidents
There are several scenarios in which pedestrians suffer injury on roads, crosswalks, sidewalks, alleys, driveways and parking lots. Those may include:
- Intersection pedestrian accidents. These generally happen when pedestrians are crossing the street, often while pedestrian is in a crosswalk. Problematically, too many Florida intersections weren't designed with pedestrians in mind, meaning there may be limited opportunities to safely cross - or sometimes even walk along the road. This can make for perilous conditions, but the driver is still responsible to exercise due caution.
- Passing pedestrians accidents. This happen when a negligent driver fails attempts to pass another vehicle that has stopped or slowed to allow a pedestrian to cross.
- Vehicle merge and turn pedestrian accidents. These types of crashes happen when the driver is intensely focused on merging into traffic or making a turn, failing to observe beforehand the pedestrian that will be in their path when they do so.
- Dart-out pedestrian accidents. These crashes involve a pedestrian who suddenly darts out into the road, leaving the driver insufficient time to react, resulting in a collision. Often, this scenario involves children, but it doesn't necessarily mean the pedestrian was at-fault. Firstly, if the pedestrian was a child or someone obviously incapacitated (particularly in a school zone or area where signs warning of children nearby have been posted), the driver has a responsibility to be appropriately cautious. Secondly, these collisions sometimes happen when the pedestrian is in a crosswalk, but the driver's view of him/ her is blocked by a stopped vehicle.
- Backup pedestrian accidents. These crashes occur primarily in parking lots, parking garages and driveways when a motorist backs up without first glancing behind them to make sure they are clear to do so.
In each of these cases, pedestrians may have grounds to pursue compensation.Compensation Available to Injured Pedestrians, Surviving Family
Pedestrian accident claims will be filed as either personal injury or wrongful death, depending on the outcome of the crash. The question of whether a pedestrian can collect compensation - and how much - will depend on numerous factors. These include:
- Who was at-fault? If more than one party was at-fault, to what degree?
- What type of auto insurance did the negligent driver carry? What about the pedestrian?
- How serious were pedestrian's injuries? How extensive were the medical bills and to what extent has the pedestrian's ability to work and enjoy life been diminished?
Because Florida is a no-fault insurance state, we first look to compensation through personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, as outlined in F.S. 627.736. These provide up to $5,000 in death benefits and $10,000 in medical/ disability benefits. If a pedestrian has their own PIP insurance, this may be used, regardless of fault and even if they weren't driving. However, because they aren't require to carry it to walk, the driver's PIP insurer can be compelled to pay, even if the pedestrian was at-fault.
The second type of insurance is bodily injury liability coverage. Pedestrians must meet the "serious injury threshold" to step outside the no-fault system to collect this. Many pedestrians do qualify because injuries in these collisions are often very serious. Secondly, we must prove negligence on the part of the driver. Most drivers carry a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, though it's not technically required for those without a poor driving record. Commercial vehicles tend to carry higher rates.
Florida's vicarious liability laws allow compensation to an injured pedestrian from the owner of a vehicle (even if he/ she was not driving) and also from an employer of one who was on-the-job at the time of a crash. One need not prove fault on the part of these defendants, so long as fault of the driver has been established.
If the at-fault driver's available insurance is insufficient or if the driver was uninsured or fled the scene, the pedestrian may secure coverage from their own uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) carrier (if they have it).
These are hypothetical situations, but our pedestrian injury lawyers in Fort Myers are available to answer your questions about what type of coverage may be available to you, based on the specifics of your case.
Call or email the Garvin Law Firm today for a free consultation and we will evaluate your claim and determine the appropriate course of action. We have offices in Fort Myers, Naples, and Key West. We have been handling pedestrian accident cases in Fort Myers, Florida for over 30 years.