Florida has one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the country. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranked Florida as the second highest with 476 pedestrian deaths. If you or a loved one has been struck by a vehicle while crossing the street, you may wonder if you have legal grounds to pursue a personal injury claim. In order to answer that, you must first understand crosswalk and pedestrian laws.
Crosswalk Laws in Florida
Florida Statutes Section 316.130 discusses the rights of pedestrians while using a crosswalk. Pedestrians, by law, are defined as anyone on foot and moving; individuals on roller skates and in wheelchairs are also considered pedestrians, but cyclists are not. Most drivers and pedestrians assume that the pedestrian always has the right-of-way; however, pursuant to statute 316.130, pedestrians and automobile drivers have a mutual right-of-way and must respect each other’s movement. That being said, statute 316.130(15) states that every driver of a motor vehicle shall use due care to avoid striking or colliding with a pedestrian or individual operating a human-powered means of transportation.
The law also states that pedestrians are required to walk on the sidewalk if they are provided, and if not, they are expected to walk on the left-side shoulder. Pedestrians are prohibited from walking on highways or freeways unless they are government personnel. When crossing roads, pedestrians must exercise caution, even when they have the right-of-way.
Civil Law and Pedestrian-Car Accidents
In Florida, an operator of a motor vehicle, truck, van, SUV, or motorcycle must exercise a level of reasonable care toward pedestrians. If the driver fails to meet that duty and is negligent, they could be liable for the damages caused by that accident. Therefore, a driver may be required to compensate the pedestrian for:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Enjoyment of life
Not all drivers who strike a pedestrian are considered at fault, nor will they all be legally liable for any injuries that have occurred. In order for the vehicle operator to be held civilly liable, the pedestrian must prove that the driver was operating their vehicle negligently. This can be done by:
- Showing that the driver failed to exercise a reasonable level of care when driving through crosswalks or heavily pedestrian populated areas; or
- Showing that the driver failed to exercise a special duty of care when children were present.
A pedestrian may also be held liable for an accident. For example, the pedestrian crossed the road without looking for vehicles. Because they did not exercise a level of care on their own, the courts may assume they are also negligent and comparative negligence law would take over. If the pedestrian is at all at fault for their injuries, the percentage of their fault will reduce the amount of compensation awarded to them.
Contact an Attorney – Call Hancock Injury Attorneys Today
Anyone struck by a vehicle may suffer from a major, life-altering event. Pedestrian accidents are one of the most traumatic and costly to recover from. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian-car accident, contact attorney Mike Hancock. You can get answers to your legal questions and see if you have legal grounds to pursue a claim. Call 813-534-6319 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a consultation.