In a collision with a car or truck, a pedestrian will almost always suffer catastrophic injuries. It’s rare when a pedestrian bears all of the fault for an accident. That is why, if you sustain injuries in a pedestrian accident, you likely have the right to significant financial compensation.
To recover the maximum compensation due to you, contact an experienced Fort Myers pedestrian accident attorney from Viles & Beckman today. We have years of experience helping victims of pedestrian accidents obtain the funds they need to regain their health and rebuild their lives.
Florida Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to the Miami Herald, Florida has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the nation. Over the ten year period 2008-2017, there were on average pedestrian deaths in the state per day. And those numbers don’t even count the huge number of pedestrians who do not die but still suffer severe, life-changing injuries in collisions with automobiles.
Why such high rates of pedestrian accidents in the Sunshine State? According to the Herald, blame lies with a combination of factors. In designing a wealth of wide, multilane streets and long blocks, road designers in Florida prioritized vehicle speed over pedestrian friendliness. Florida’s population of elderly residents, who may have difficulty moving quickly through a wide intersection, also poses a risk factor. And Florida also has a high number of SUVs and trucks, which tend to cause greater injuries than smaller cars in a collision with a pedestrian.
Injuries Common in a Fort Myers Pedestrian Crash
Pedestrians do not stand much of a chance in a collision with a motor vehicle. Even just a “tap” by a vehicle could cause serious injury, depending on how the vehicle hits a pedestrian. Injuries could include:
- Head and brain injuries: a traumatic brain injury from sustaining a blow to the head can leave a victim permanently unconscious, or with lifelong motor, cognitive, and emotional disabilities.
- Neck, shoulder and spine injuries: spine injuries often cause permanent damage, including paralysis that confines victims to mobility devices for the rest of their lives. Neck and spine injuries can also cause chronic pain and disability.
- Internal bleeding and organ damage: the violent impact of a body against a hard road surface or the front of a vehicle can damage internal organs, resulting in internal bleeding and swelling that often proves life-threatening and requires multiple surgeries and hospitalizations to treat.
- Abrasions and lacerations: a rough road surface and sharp metal can inflict deep wounds that bleed profusely, risk becoming infected, and take a long time to heal, sometimes requiring multiple, painful skin graft surgeries.
- Torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons: even when injuries do not threaten a person’s life, they can cause serious pain and disability. A torn or ruptured muscle, ligament, or tendon can take months or more to heal and even then may never work the way it once did, leaving the victim with lasting disabilities.
- Broken bones: simple bone breaks heal, but are painful. More commonly in pedestrian accidents, however, bone breaks involve multiple complex fractures that require surgery, implants, and physical therapy, and they still may never heal properly.
Some chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, make the healing process for these injuries even more difficult and prolonged. Be sure to tell your attorney of any medical condition you have that makes your pain and suffering worse—you may have the right to additional compensation.
The injuries listed above comprise just some of the injuries one can expect from a pedestrian accident. Every person’s injury is different, as is every person’s road to recovery. The compassionate attorneys at Viles & Beckman have years of experience representing injured Floridians. We have particular familiarity with the medical and financial challenges associated with healing from severe injuries. No matter what your injury, we encourage you to speak with us about the support you need in order to recover and return to a “normal” life.
Reported Pedestrian Injuries in Lee County, FL
How to Recover Damages
Because pedestrians usually bear only a minor degree of fault, if any, for their accident and injuries, they frequently have the right to take legal action to recover damages to compensate them for their out of pocket costs, pain, loss, and difficulty. As a general matter, lawyers separate the damages potentially recoverable for a pedestrian accident into three categories: economic (or “special”), non-economic (or “general”), and punitive (or “exemplary”).
Economic (a.k.a. “Special”) Damages
Economic damages consist of a victim’s and/or victim’s family’s actual out-of-pocket costs associated with a pedestrian accident and its resulting injuries. They typically include:
- Past and reasonably predictable future medical costs for injuries from the accident;
- Past and reasonably predictable future lost wages for the time the victim and/or the victim’s family members cannot work because of injuries from the accident or the need to tend to an injured loved one;
- Loss of earning capacity, if the victim can never return to work in his or her former capacity;
- Services necessary to help a person heal from an accident, or to perform functions such as transportation, house cleaning, lawn maintenance, etc., that the injured person cannot perform because of a pedestrian accident injury;
- The replacement of personal property you may have had on you in the accident if that property was damaged.
- If the victim of the accident tragically dies, the costs associated with a funeral, burial, and/or cremation.
Non-Economic (a.k.a. “General”) Damages
Non-economic damages compensate a victim for injuries and difficulties that do not necessarily have a fixed dollar-amount associated with them. They frequently include:
- Pain and suffering: a victim has the right to compensation for the physical and emotional pain an accident causes, and for the interruption and negative impact on the victim’s life.
- Loss of companionship: a victim and the victim’s family can recover compensation for the negative impact a pedestrian accident and resulting injuries have on personal relationships and the ability to enjoy time together;
- Loss of consortium: victims and their spouses/partners also may recover compensation for the loss of a physically and/or emotionally intimate relationship.
- Loss of life enjoyment: to the extent not covered by the categories above, a victim may also have the ability to recover compensation for the impact the accident and injuries had on the victim’s ability to engage in life pursuits, such as a favorite hobby or sport.
The families of victims who tragically die in a pedestrian accident typically have the right to recover damages similar to those above.
Punitive (a.k.a. “Exemplary”) Damages
Punitive (or “exemplary”) damages seek to right a wrong. They’re available under Florida law when the victim can present “clear and convincing evidence … that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.” That makes punitive damages less common than the other two categories of damages, but they’re certainly possible in pedestrian accident cases where a driver recklessly disregards the safety of pedestrians or, worse, intentionally targets them.
Clients of Viles & Beckman frequently want to know how much they can expect to recover in damages. At the beginning of a case, that is a very difficult question to answer. As the categories above reflect, the amount of damages depends very much on the specific facts of a case, including the severity of injuries, the prognosis for recovery, and the victim’s age and health when the accident happened.
Recovering damages also depends on there being someone to pay them. So, the amount of damages in a case can depend on the availability of insurance or on the personal or corporate assets of the parties with legal liability. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can help you calculate the appropriate amount of damages to seek in your case, after having reviewed the facts and circumstances of your accident.
Finally, Florida is a no-fault insurance state. If the pedestrian injured in an accident also carries no-fault insurance coverage as a result of having registered a car here, that coverage may cover the pedestrian in an accident involving a motor vehicle. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can also help you figure out what insurance may cover your injuries in a pedestrian accident, and can help you to ensure you make the appropriate claims in the appropriate amount of time to protect your rights to compensation.
If You Are Involved in a Pedestrian Accident
In many cases, when a vehicle collides with a pedestrian, the pedestrian suffers catastrophic injuries. However, if you are not seriously injured, you could help your case by collecting as much information about the driver and accident scene as possible. In the event of a hit-and-run, pedestrians should try their best to remember the license plate number and the make, model and color of the vehicle that hit them.
As with all accidents, if you are able, get the driver’s name, address, and phone number. You should also get the driver’s registration and insurance information. You may also give the driver your contact information but never admit to any kind of fault to the driver, first responders, police or your insurance company. When you call the insurance company to advise it that you have been in an accident, give it the date, time and location of the accident and let the insurance company know that your attorney will be contacting it.
What Your Loved Ones Should Do
Because walking or jogging could be dangerous, especially on busy city streets, you should carry the contact information of a relative or friend that you trust to handle your affairs for you in the event that you suffer major injuries or are killed in a pedestrian accident. Instruct this person to contact a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible.
You should also tell the loved one that he or she shouldn’t give any information to any insurance company or first responder that is about the accident. However, your emergency contact should be able to tell first responders information such as your allergies, who your doctor is and other pertinent medical information. If you have ever had surgery and have metal pins or other metal in your body, your loved one should also give first responders that information so that emergency room technicians don’t give you any magnetic testing, such as an MRI.
Walking and Jogging Safely
Of course, in the best of all worlds, you will never get into a pedestrian accident and never have to speak with a pedestrian accident attorney. Below are some tips to help keep yourself safe and injury free as a pedestrian on Florida sidewalks and crosswalks.
- Keep music low. Many joggers and walkers like to listen to music with earplugs. While there isn’t a law against this, it could be dangerous if it prevents you from hearing what is going on around you. If you are going to listen to music, keep the volume low enough to remain aware of your surroundings. Hearing tires squealing or a horn could save you from getting seriously injured or could even save your life.
- Don’t text and walk. Screens are designed to hold our attention. As a result, many do not look up from their phones as they enter a crosswalk. They rely on drivers to see them and don’t realize that they may be in a driver’s blind spot. Or the driver may not be paying attention to his or her surroundings, either.
- Use crosswalks and obey traffic signals. Everyone jaywalks from time-to-time, but if there’s a crosswalk available then you should use it. Wait for a walk signal. Entering a road outside of a crosswalk or against a walk signal puts pedestrians at risk because drivers do not necessarily expect to see pedestrians in their path.
Why Crosswalk Accidents Happen
Most crosswalk accidents occur because of a motorist’s failure to yield the right of way. Too often, drivers zoom through crosswalks without realizing it or without caring to slow down and look before entering. That is unacceptable and it leads to needless tragedy.
Crosswalks exist because society realizes that pedestrians need special protection when walking across a dangerous intersection or roadway. Drivers violating that special protection can be held accountable under the law and their victims are entitled to economic reimbursement for the full value of their suffering.
Common causes of crosswalk accidents include:
- Texting while driving
- Other kinds of distracted driving
- Running red lights
- Running stop signs
- Attempting to “beat” a yellow light
- Negligently passing other vehicles near a crosswalk
- Making a turn without looking carefully first
- Failure to check blind spots (particularly problematic with Fort Myers commercial trucking accidents)
- Reckless driving
- Intoxication (DUI/DWI)