Being struck as a pedestrian is a traumatizing occurrence, but unfortunately, it is not uncommon. In fact, Florida's palm-lined streets and bustling intersections are some of the most dangerous in the country. When it comes to the rate of pedestrian fatalities, Fort Lauderdale ranks as the second highest in the entire nation, with Miami coming in sixth.
Generally speaking, 1 in 15 pedestrian crashes in Florida resulted in death.
If you were involved in an auto accident as a pedestrian and suffered injuries as a consequence, you deserve compensation for your damages. But, without proper representation, you risk being awarded nothing at all. Continue reading for the top reasons you should hire an attorney after a pedestrian accident.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
As with auto accidents, pedestrian accidents are the result of negligence. Every person on Florida roadways - whether they are a bicyclist, motorist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian - is expected to exercise a reasonable level of care. All individuals sharing the road are expected to obey traffic laws and rules of the road when using the streets, highways, and crosswalks.
When an individual fails to exercise reasonable care in some way, and that failure causes a car accident, that is known as negligence. A plethora of instances could occur to cause the negligence, but typical causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted driving, such as texting while driving
- Failing to stop at crosswalks
- Illegal U-turns
- Intoxicated driving
- Limited visibility, such as illegally parked cars obstructing pedestrians from view
- Municipal negligence, such as poor street layout or failure of traffic control devices
- Pedestrians jaywalking across a busy street
- Right turns through crosswalks without looking for pedestrians
- Running red lights and hitting pedestrians in the crosswalk
When a driver hits a pedestrian, the biggest question is typically who was at fault for the accident. However, even when using the provided causes above as an example, both a pedestrian and a driver can contribute to an accident. Determining who was at fault, and if that fault was shared, can be the difference between receiving compensation and having a claim dismissed. Having a qualified pedestrian accident attorney by your side to protect your rights is paramount.
Damages Incurred in a Pedestrian Accident
In a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, the results are almost always devastating. Unlike the driver of a vehicle, who is protected by thick metal and a seat belt, a pedestrian is left completely unprotected and vulnerable. While hitting a pedestrian at a speed of over 30 miles per hour results in life-changing injuries and fatalities, even a driver traveling only 10 miles per hour can severely disable a pedestrian.
Common injuries incurred by pedestrians during an accident with a vehicle include:
- Broken bones
- Facial or dental injuries
- Internal injuries or bleeding
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
The severity of injuries incurred during pedestrian accidents can often place a victim out of work for weeks, and even months, resulting in plenty of medical bills and lost wages. The law refers to these expenses as damages, which is a broad term describing any harm done that may require action and repayment to restore justice and make things right again. Multiple categories of damages may result from a pedestrian accident, including:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
Why Seek an Attorney
As one can tell by the expanse of causes of pedestrian accidents, as well as the life-changing damages that can result, receiving compensation for damages is paramount to getting a victim's life back on track. But, the matter of who was at fault, as well as what the monetary amount of compensation should be, can often cheat a deserving pedestrian out of the compensation they are owed.
For this exact reason, it is highly advisable to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you after a pedestrian accident. Whether or not you think you may have been at fault, if you've had to pursue medical treatment or therapy, you could be owed a settlement. This is where an attorney can help.
1. An Attorney Can Help Determine Fault
Were you jaywalking at the time of the accident? Were you distracted while walking, looking down at your cell phone? As a pedestrian, you share responsibility in paying adequate attention while on the road. If an insurance company or court finds you acted negligently, you could be refused compensation completely.
However, if the driver of the vehicle was speeding, made an illegal turn, failed to stop, or acted outside of the scope of responsible driving, that does not make the accident solely your fault. In fact, due to Florida's comparative fault statute, both parties can share responsibility for the accident, and you can still be granted a percentage of your compensation.
But, how do you prove these things without evidence? That's where an attorney comes in. Using testimony, medical exams, and evidence collected at the scene, an attorney can help determine fault in a pedestrian accident, so that you do not get forced out of compensation.
2. An Attorney Can Determine Damages
Monetary sums such as past medical bills and lost wages can often be easily determined. If you were injured in an accident, you can claim an injury with the driver's car insurance company to get bills paid. However, how do you put a price tag on something like pain and suffering?
Oftentimes an insurance company will try to offer a victim a low payout, worth far less than their actual pain and mental anguish. Using their extensive knowledge of personal injury law and the court system, a pedestrian accident attorney can help calculate how much you are rightfully entitled to, and fight for your full compensation.
3. An Attorney Can be Your Mediator for Insurance Companies
As stated, insurance companies likely try to offer victims far less than what they are owed. Insurance companies aim to spend the least amount of money and attend the least amount of court proceedings possible. If they can offer you a settlement before you've actually calculated your damages, you're likely to be cheated out of a fair deal.
Likewise, insurance companies may try to call you to discuss factors of the case. If they feel that they've caught you in a lie, or feel there's been a discrepancy in your story, they can move to dismiss your claim. Working with an attorney allows the attorney to be your mouthpiece when talking to insurance companies. Attorneys understand what to say and what to avoid saying to insurance companies, and can also take the stress of handling the situation off of you so you can focus on what's important - healing.
4. An Attorney Will Help Decide the Next Move
If you've been offered a settlement but feel you deserve more, you might be unsure what your next move should be. You might think you can handle taking the insurance company or at-fault driver to court by yourself, but statistics show that 25% of people who choose to represent themselves in court, lose 90% of the time.
An experienced auto attorney has a grasp on the most crucial aspects of a pedestrian accident case, including the local statute of limitations, when to settle, and when to sue. If you both decide that taking your accident to court is the best next step, your attorney will be able to argue the facts of your case, bringing in expert witnesses and developing a strategy to help secure a settlement you deserve.
Have you recently been involved in a pedestrian accident? Don't let the insurance company bully you out of a fair settlement. A trusted attorney can drastically improve your chances of securing a settlement to care for your medical bills, lost wages, and the toll an accident can take on your life.
Why You Need an Attorney after a Pedestrian Accident
Allow yourself to recover from injuries while a pedestrian accident attorney works to recover your damages.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Justin Weinstein
Justin Weinstein is a personal injury lawyer and founder of Weinstein Legal, a Fort Lauderdale, FL law firm. Mr. Weinstein's team of attorneys provides personal attention to clients in motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, burn injuries, slip and fall cases, and more. He is active in the community as co-founder of Connect for a Cause, a networking group dedicated to fundraising for multiple non-profits.
Copyright Weinstein Legal
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.