Who Is At Fault in Pedestrian Accidents?
Liability for damages sustained in a pedestrian accident hinges on Florida law, the duties and responsibilities of both the driver and the pedestrian, and other circumstances that may create a hazardous condition for pedestrians.
Pedestrians are required by law to:
- Observe all traffic signs unless law enforcement is otherwise directing traffic.
- Not step off the curb unless the walk or traffic light indicates they can.
- Stay on the right edge of the crosswalk.
- Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks where they exist.
- Cross the street at a right angle when there is no crosswalk.
- Yield the right-of-way to vehicles while crossing the roadway.
- Walk as far left as possible on the left side of the roadway with traffic coming toward them if there is no sidewalk.
- Remain alert and avoid distractions such as the use of a cell phone.
- Not walk while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances.
Vehicle drivers, of course, owe a duty of care to everyone on the roadway. They must:
- Obey all traffic signals and signs.
- Yield to pedestrians crossing roadways with marked and unmarked crosswalks.
- Avoid distractions and remain alert at all times.
- Give space to pedestrians using the roadway, especially where no sidewalks exist.
- Not operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances that impair driving.
The weather and other circumstances can contribute to pedestrian accidents, including:
- Rain and other weather that causes slick roads or limits visibility
- Parked vehicles or other objects on the side of the roadway
- Pedestrians wearing dark clothing at night which makes them difficult to see
- No lighting on the roadway or dim headlights on a vehicle
- Headlights shining directly into the eyes of pedestrians
Is Fault Assigned to Only One Party?
Florida uses a pure comparative negligence standard in vehicular and pedestrian accidents, assigning a percentage of fault to one or more people involved. What that means is that those involved in an accident can sue to recover damages in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to them.
If a pedestrian was texting while crossing with the light in a marked crosswalk and a vehicle turning left hit them, the pedestrian could be assigned some fault. If they were assigned 10% of fault and the driver 90%, the driver could sue the pedestrian for 10% of any damages they incurred. The pedestrian could sue the driver for 90% of their damages.
What Are Damages?
Damages in a personal injury claim include medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disfigurement or disability, pain and suffering, and the loss of consortium for the pedestrian’s spouse.
The damages recoverable by the estate in a wrongful death action include loss of accumulated wealth, lost income, and medical and funeral expenses. Damages the heirs may recover include loss of support, service, guidance, instruction, and companionship, pain and suffering, and medical and funeral expenses if they were paid by the survivors.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Claim?
Personal injury claims must be settled with the insurer or a lawsuit filed against the negligent parties within four years from the date of the accident. Wrongful death actions must be settled or a lawsuit filed within two years from the date of death. If the pedestrian was a minor at the time of the accident, there is an extended period for settling a claim or filing a suit.
What Should I Do After a Pedestrian Accident?
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident, you should seek immediate medical attention and adhere to your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan. You should also consult a personal injury attorney right away. If your loved one was incapacitated by injuries and is unable to pursue a claim on their own, a person holding the victim’s durable power of attorney may pursue a claim. If there is no durable power of attorney, a spouse or family member can ask the court to appoint a conservator to assert a claim.
A wrongful death action must be filed by the personal representative for the decedent’s estate in Florida. If there was no will at the time of death and therefore, no personal representative, the court will appoint one. The personal representative and the survivors should retain a wrongful death attorney to handle the action.