Legal Issues in Pedestrian Accidents
The first thing to understand about these incidents is that, in most cases, they are not accidents. People accidentally leave the water running. They do not accidentally run over pedestrians who are crossing the street. They also do not accidentally lose control of their vehicles, careen off the road, and strike pedestrians.
Pedestrians usually sustain catastrophic injuries in these wrecks. Unlike four-wheel vehicle occupants, pedestrians have no steel cages or restraint systems to protect them. They are completely exposed to danger.
Because of these serious injuries, a Tampa pedestrian accident attorney can normally obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in extreme cases.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
Most pedestrian accidents occur outside marked crosswalks and in non-intersections. Therefore, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually travelling at or near top speed at the moment of the crash.
This environment is bad news for victims. If the tortfeasor is moving slower than 30mph, the pedestrian fatality rate is only about 10 percent. The pedestrian death rate skyrockets to 90 percent at impact speeds of 50mph or higher.
Failure to look is sometimes responsible. For example, when drivers turn right at intersections, they normally look to the left and never look in another direction. So, if a pedestrian is crossing the street to the right, even if the pedestrian has the green light, the driver will probably never see the pedestrian.
Driver impairment, such as fatigue, distraction, and substance use, also causes a number of pedestrian accidents. These impairments slow reaction times and motor skills. Therefore, these drivers cannot react quickly enough to something like a jaywalking pedestrian.
If pedestrians are in the crosswalk and walking with the light, they have the right of way. So, if tortfeasors hit them, the negligence per se shortcut could apply. If tortfeasors violate non-penal safety laws in Florida, these individuals are presumptively liable for damages.
As mentioned, most pedestrian accidents happen outside crosswalks. So, the negligence per se rule is usually inapplicable. Instead, victim/plaintiffs must establish ordinary negligence, or a lack of reasonable care. The duty of reasonable care requires drivers to avoid accidents when possible and drive defensively. Striking a pedestrian clearly violates these responsibilities.
In both ordinary negligence and negligence per se cases, attorneys must have evidence of liability. Evidence in these claims usually includes medical bills, the police accident report, and witness statements. Medical bills usually establish the manner and extent of injury. The police accident report and witness statements usually establish the cause of the wreck.
Insurance Company Defenses
Distracted walking is one of the most common insurance company defenses in these situations. Pedestrians, like drivers, have a duty to watch the road. Evidence of distracted walking includes things like device use logs. But use alone is insufficient. The insurance company must prove that the victim was so engrossed in a device that s/he ignored his/her surroundings.
The sudden emergency defense occasionally comes up as well. This defense applies if tortfeasors reasonably react to sudden emergencies. But a jaywalking pedestrian is not a “sudden emergency” in this context. This category is reserved for completely unexpected events, like hood fly-ups.
Count on an Experienced Lawyer
Injured pedestrians have legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.