Fort Myers Pedestrian Accident Attorney
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)
A Fort Myers Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Answers Your Questions
No one expects to get hit by a car while walking down a sidewalk or crossing a street, but, unfortunately, that frequently happens in Fort Myers. Indeed, of all states, Florida has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the United States.
Many people used to attribute Fort Myers’s high rate of pedestrian deaths to the fact that our city gets thousands of visitors per year, and thus people unfamiliar with the area end up behind the wheel and confused. However, the biggest reason for pedestrian accidents in Fort Myers is the massive suburban sprawl that contains wide roads where cars travel at high speeds and for long stretches between safe crosswalks.
This does not mean that the only places where pedestrians suffer injuries after a run-in with a vehicle is in suburban areas. Many times, these accidents occur in urban and downtown locations where drivers simply are not paying attention.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury after being hit by a vehicle, you deserve to have an experienced Fort Myers pedestrian accident attorney on your case. Your ability to recover from your injuries may hinge on your lawyer’s ability to recover every dollar you deserve.
To maximize your ultimate compensation, you should choose a lawyer with a wealth of knowledge handling pedestrian accident injury cases. These types of cases are incredibly complex and require a keen eye for detail. Ensure that your lawyer has experience handling pedestrian accident cases and that you feel comfortable with him or her representing you, as your ability to recover both financially and physically may depend on the lawyer you choose.
What is a pedestrian accident?
A pedestrian accident happens when a car strikes a pedestrian, which happens frequently in crowded areas and where cars travel at high rates of speed. It can happen in quiet neighborhoods, as well. In fact, Florida has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the United States.
A driver might not see a pedestrian or would leave the road and strike a pedestrian on a sidewalk for many reasons, including:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Turning right on red
- Poorly lit roads
- Poorly marked crosswalks
Nearly half of all pedestrian accident deaths are caused by a driver who has been drinking. While pedestrians should look both ways before crossing a street, they can only take so many precautionary steps to prevent an accident. When drivers decide to drive after drinking, they will have delayed reaction time, so even if they see a pedestrian, their brains may not respond quickly enough to avoid an accident.
The injuries you suffer from this unfortunate accident could prove catastrophic. You may end up with a severely altered life, one where your loved ones must carry additional and unnecessary financial burdens, all because someone else made a mistake.
What is my case worth?
Far and away, this question is the most frequently asked question we receive from clients and prospective clients alike. We understand why it matters. To fully recover from your injuries, you will need sufficient money to cover your medical expenses and your lost wages. All the more reason to work with a Fort Myers pedestrian accident attorney whom you trust.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine the exact value of a case without all of the facts and significant analysis of those facts.
What we can tell you is that we can work together to maximize your compensation by seeking the following damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Present and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Loss of companionship
When you suffer injuries after a pedestrian accident, your focus should center around your physical and mental recovery. The only way to completely do that is to let go of the legal stress and worry and place that on a trusted pedestrian accident lawyer who has experience handling cases in Fort Myers.
Will my case go to trial?
While most pedestrian accident cases settle out of court, your pedestrian accident case may go to trial. That’s why you need to choose a lawyer with trial experience, so you can ensure that you have the right legal counsel by your side, if you do end up needing to take your case to trial.
Trials are expensive and time-consuming. This is true for both parties, and that’s why both parties are incentivized to settle. However, in some instances, the insurance company representing the at-fault driver may refuse to act with reason and settle for a fair amount. When this happens, your case may go to trial, but only with your consent and only if your attorney thinks that taking your case to trial will maximize your ultimate compensation.
Many victims believe that if their case is most likely to settle, then they do not need to hire a lawyer at all. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the insurance company wants you to think. The insurance company has a better chance of making you go away for less money if you do not have legal representation.
Many insurance companies will also try to use your own words against you. When you speak with the insurance company representing the at-fault driver, the company’s representative will most likely record your statements. Even if you say something innocent, but that suggests you may have played some part in the accident, the insurance company will use those words to deny your claim and withhold payment. Fortunately, your lawyer will speak on your behalf and make sure there are no statements that could be construed as admitting fault for the accident.
In fact, many insurance companies try to offer victims a quick settlement, well before they have a chance to retain a lawyer. Companies do this because they know that a lawyer will review the settlement offer and likely conclude the offer is too low for his or her client’s needs. When you work with a trusted pedestrian accident attorney, however, he or she can help you create an accurate estimate of the total value of your claim. When you do this, you will likely realize that the initial settlement offer from the insurance company was grossly undervalued.
However, if you sign the settlement offer and then later realize that it did not include enough funds to cover all of your needs, it’s too late. By signing the settlement offer, you generally agree to waive your future right to bring any claim against the insurance company for this accident. Even though your settlement funds were not enough, you have no recourse.
To avoid this situation, you should retain an experienced Fort Myers pedestrian accident lawyer by your side from the beginning. Your legal counsel can help you avoid a situation where you end up in financial hardship because you did not recover enough money to cover your needs.
How long will it take to get my money?
This is another question that has an unsatisfying answer, but it depends. Most pedestrian accident cases last between a few months and a year. If your case is fairly simple, it may wrap up quickly; if your case is more complicated, it will take longer.
We know that, from your perspective, your case is cut and dry. You know the driver hit you, and you know that you did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, pedestrian accident cases generally require more evidence, and that usually means it takes more time. However, you should not think of more time as being completely negative. Taking our time means that we can fully investigate your pedestrian accident and make sure your medical prognosis follows initial estimates.
While we do not want this to happen, it is certainly possible that your physical recovery goes in the wrong direction. You may need more surgeries, longer hospital stays, and more intense rehabilitation. All of this costs a great deal of money, and if you settle your case too quickly, you may end up needing to pay for some of your expenses out of pocket.
Your ability to recover compensation relies heavily on the skill of the lawyer whom you choose to represent you, so work with an experienced and seasoned pedestrian accident injury attorney in Fort Myers.
What if the driver who hit me did not have insurance?
Nearly 20 percent of pedestrian accidents involve drivers who lack adequate insurance. If you’re involved in such an accident, and if the driver who struck you did not have any or adequate insurance coverage, you may have to file a claim with your own insurance company.
This may lead your insurance rates to go up, all from an accident you played no part in causing. We look to avoid this tragic situation as often as possible. That’s why we look to investigate the circumstances of your accident and look to hold any negligent party liable, including the at-fault driver. If, for example, the driver was drunk, we could try to hold the bar that over-served him or her partially liable for your injuries and help you recover damages from the bar, along with the driver.
This is just one way in which a skilled pedestrian accident lawyer can help you get every dollar you deserve. Your physical well being should be your focus right now, and it is precisely why we align our goals with yours.
What if the police cited the driver for a violation or a crime?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your pedestrian accident, the police may have cited the driver with a violation at the scene. If the violation was bad enough, like being over the legal limit for blood alcohol content, the state might even charge the driver with a crime.
However, don’t mistake a criminal charge with your ability to recover damages from the at-fault driver. A criminal charge simply means that the state prosecutor has charged the driver with a crime. Even if the driver is found guilty of the crime, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will recover compensation.
Contrast this with filing a pedestrian accident claim. When you take this path, that helps to ensure that you recover compensation for your injuries, for what the driver has made you suffer. You cannot simply rely on a criminal case to recover damages for your injuries and your suffering.
Do I have to file a claim right away?
You should file your claim as soon as possible. Under Florida law, you only have four years from the date of your accident to file a pedestrian injury claim against the negligent party.
Four years might sound like a long time, but think about everything that you have to deal with during that time.
- Extended hospital stays
- Lengthy periods of time out of work
- Multiple doctor visits
- Many surgeries
- Extensive rehabilitation
Your recovery may last for years. In the worst cases, recovery never ends; injured individuals endure suffering for the rest of their lives. Clearly, you will not think about a pedestrian accident claim or your legal case strategy if this is the case.
When you work with the right Fort Myers pedestrian accident lawyer, he or she will work hard to collect every dollar that you deserve while you work hard to make a complete physical recovery. When you contact a lawyer soon after your accident, your lawyer can get to work while the accident scene and witness memories are fresh, further increasing the chances of success. If you wait too long, you may end up paying out of pocket for your medical expenses.
Why do I need a lawyer?
When pedestrian accident victims attempt to negotiate their own settlements, it often results in them getting less money than if they worked with a skilled lawyer. That often results in victims having to pay for their own medical expenses and enduring financial hardship, all because of an accident that they played no part in causing.
Do not let this happen to you. Do not delay another day. Your ability to recover from your traumatic experience depends on you making the right choice today. Speak with our experienced Fort Myers pedestrian accident lawyers today.
Contact a Fort Myers Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
If you have sustained an injury or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident in the Fort Myers, Florida area, it’s likely you have a right to recover significant compensation. Contact Viles & Beckman at 239-334-3933 for a free consultation with a member of our team to learn how we can help during this difficult time of your life.
“Marcus Viles and his fantastic staff are very dedicated professionals. They took my case right away, assuring me it was valid. They are now working on my behalf and keep me informed so I know where my case stands. Marcus is so dedicated he has called me on weekends and when he has been traveling. The whole staff makes me feel supported. I would highly recommend this caring and knowledgeable team!”
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