Florida has one of the highest rates of fatal pedestrian accidents in the country. Due to an overabundance of highway construction and congested city streets, Florida ranked fifth in pedestrian accidents resulting in death in 2017, trailing Arizona by .17 deaths for the top spot. Hillsborough County is especially brutal for those who rely on their legs to commute, although traversing Miami-Dade by foot is more dangerous than nearly all counties combined.
Inadequate pedestrian safety is a pervasive issue in Florida. But what many residents of Hillsborough County may not know are what rights and responsibilities pedestrians have when using Tampa sidewalks and crosswalks and what level of proof is required to compensate victims of pedestrian accidents in Florida for their unwarranted injuries.
Pedestrian Responsibility When Crossing an Intersection
Section 316.130 of The 2018 Florida Statutes underscores pedestrian laws when using crosswalks and sidewalks. According to this section of code, pedestrians must:
- Obey the instruction of any traffic control device;
- Use sidewalks when available, avoiding the use of roadways designated for vehicles;
- Walk along the left shoulder when sidewalks are not available;
- Not leave the sidewalk or curb abruptly, making it impossible for a vehicle to yield;
- Not cross diagonally unless instructed by a traffic control officer to do so; and,
- Follow traffic control signals when in use.
Despite lawful use of sidewalks and crosswalks, accidents still happen.
Motorist Responsibility when Pedestrians are Present
Similarly, motorists have rules that must be followed when pedestrians are present. They include:
- Stopping before crosswalks when traffic signal is red;
- Allowing pedestrians permitted to cross to do so before proceeding;
- Yielding to pedestrians crossing when no signal is present;
- Exercising due care in avoiding a collision with a pedestrian; and,
- Not overtaking vehicles ahead of them when that vehicle is stopped or yielding to pedestrians.
It’s clear from these responsibilities that when it comes to Florida pedestrian accidents, the burden is on motorists. While pedestrians should take care when crossing, even when jaywalking, the expectation is that motorists must stop.
Pure Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Florida, you may be entitled to compensation to help cover the costs of medical care and lost wages.
Comparative negligence in Florida determines how much, if anything, accident victims are entitled to. Comparative negligence helps defendants in pedestrian accident claims avoid paying injured parties for damages they did not wholly cause. It works like this:
- Pedestrian accident attorney files action against the alleged at-fault party (tortfeasor);
- Evidence suggests tortfeasor was not 100% responsible;
- Both sides present their arguments, evidence, and testimony;
- Jury decides that you are entitled to “x” amount of compensation, but that award will be deducted by “x” percentage to offset your level of responsibility.
If you were awarded $100,000 for a pedestrian accident in Florida, but a Hillsborough County jury found you were 27% responsible, the negligent party would be liable for $73,000 ($100,000 * .27, or $27,000). Florida is one of the few states that allow damages to be reduced up to 99%, meaning an injured party could still collect 1%.
How an Attorney Will Approach Your Claim
If you’re considering seeking help from a Tampa pedestrian accident lawyer, keep in mind that every case is different. The best way to know whether you have a good case to discuss it with a skilled attorney.
Generally, your attorney will consider a variety of factors in deciding how to handle your claim, including:
- The level of cooperation received from insurance adjusters;
- Availability and strength of evidence in support of their injured client;
- The willingness of witnesses to provide testimony;
- If the injured party accepted cash or gifts in exchange for not filing suit;
- Whether the negligent party fled the scene;
- If the pedestrian dies or was pronounced dead at the scene;
- If there are commercial or government entities involved; and,
- If the claim is made within the statute of limitations, currently four (4) years.
These are just some of the factors that can affect the viability of the case. The specifics of your case will differ, so be sure to share them with a skilled Tampa pedestrian accident lawyer.
Do I Need a Hillsborough County Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
As with vehicle accidents, Florida pedestrian accidents will have an insurer, defense attorney, negligent party, and an injured person all vying for something. The injured party wants to be compensated for their injuries, time off work, pain and suffering, medical bills and all other relief deemed appropriate. The remaining three parties want to discount the claim, oftentimes offering a small payout for “inconveniencing” the accident victim. This is not acceptable. When facing off in court or across the negotiating table, make sure you have a trusted ally by your side.
Ultimately, you want someone on your side that not only knows the law but who is prepared to fight on your behalf. Whether your case needs a skilled negotiator or a litigator, Burnett Law is primed to represent your interests and help you receive compensation for your injuries.
Injured in a Pedestrian Accident in Florida?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida pedestrian accident, it’s important to seek legal help from a qualified Tampa personal injury attorney quickly. While you have four years to file a claim, by doing so earlier, you can ensure that your attorney will have a better chance of finding evidence and speaking to reliable witnesses that can assist on your behalf. As time passes, nearby businesses may erase or overwrite their surveillance video. Witnesses may forget what they saw. Errors in police reports may never get corrected on time. Even worse, negligent parties may move across the country, which could make serving them legal papers difficult.
Don’t wait to seek compensation for your injuries—contact Burnett Law today for a consultation. Together, we’ll go over the facts of your case and discuss what our law firm is able to do for you.