Pedestrian Accidents: What You Should Know Now
Statistically, pedestrians represent only a tiny fraction of the people who use the roads on the Treasure Coast. But pedestrians represent a significant number of roadway injuries and fatalities. Generally, Port St. Lucie roads have wide lanes and long green lights. Features like these help move vehicle traffic quickly from one place to the other. But these things make these roads very difficult for people to cross, especially if they have any mobility impairment.
Nevertheless, a tortfeasor (negligent driver) is usually responsible for a pedestrian accident. If that’s the case, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney might be able to obtain substantial compensation for the victim. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
Speed is probably the primary factor in catastrophic pedestrian accidents. In fact, the tortfeasor need not exceed the speed limit for velocity to be a factor. At impact speeds of less than 20mph, the pedestrian fatality rate is less than 10 percent. The fatality rate skyrockets to 90 percent at impact speeds above 40mph.
Driver inattention also causes or contributes to a number of serious injury or fatal collisions. At 40mph, vehicles travel about sixty feet in a single second. It usually takes much longer than that to review a text message, take a bite of a hamburger, or turn one’s head to speak with a passenger. An awful lot of things can happen in sixty feet when pedestrians are nearby.
If the accident occurred in a crosswalk, failure to yield the right of way is often a factor. When drivers turn right at an intersection, they usually only look to the left. So, if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk, the tortfeasor often does not see the pedestrian. A collision is practically inevitable at that point.
Your Claim for Damages
To obtain the aforementioned compensation, most attorneys use the ordinary negligence doctrine or the negligence per se rule.
Ordinary negligence is a breach of care. Drivers have a duty to avoid accidents whenever possible, and that includes pedestrian accidents. So, they have a duty to slow down and pay close attention to pedestrian sidewalk traffic when these people are nearby. But most drivers fail to do so. They are focused on getting where they want to go.
If the pedestrian was in the crosswalk, the pedestrian normally has the right of way. Therefore, the negligence per se doctrine might apply. Tortfeasors are presumptively negligent if:
- They violate a safety law, and
- That violation substantially caused injury.
Additional evidence on this point includes things like vehicle speed and steering angle. This evidence often comes from a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder.
Insurance Company Defenses
In court documents and oral arguments, insurance company lawyers often claim the victim “darted out into traffic.” This language sets up the sudden emergency defense. This legal loophole excuses negligent conduct if the tortfeasor:
- Reasonably reacted to
- A sudden emergency.
Even if the pedestrian literally ran in front of the tortfeasor, that conduct usually does not qualify as a “sudden emergency.” A jaywalking pedestrian is not a completely unexpected situation. That designation belongs to things like hood fly-ups and lightning strikes.
Distracted walking might also be a defense in some cases. Victims have the same duty of care as tortfeasors. They must be alert and respond appropriately to traffic conditions.
Florida is a pure comparative fault. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
Pedestrians risk serious injury every time they cross the street. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.