People on foot being struck by any kind of motor vehicle can result in some of the most horrific physical injuries, and often the death of the pedestrian.
There are approximately 5,000 pedestrian fatalities from car crashes in the country annually, which equates to about 14% of fatalities from all crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes a report on pedestrian crash statistics, and it gives some very insightful details on the reasons and circumstances behind how and why they happen.
As you may expect, most pedestrian accidents – those that result in a serious injury and those where a person lost their life – happen in the more populated urban areas of Florida. More cars attempting to interact with more pedestrians creates more risk for a car vs. pedestrian crash. Also, not surprisingly, the vast majority of pedestrian fatalities happen at a non-intersection. In other words, people are attempting to cross the road but not at a marked crosswalk or intersection. A startling 70% of pedestrian deaths happen that way.
Nearly 70% of these types of crashes happen at night. This shows that drivers just do not see the victim in most pedestrian fatalities involving a car.
As for the age of most pedestrians killed in a crash, the NHTSA reports that people within 2 age groups make up the largest percentages of overall traffic fatalities nationwide. Children aged 5-9 years old account for 22% of all traffic fatalities, and those aged 10-15 years old also account for 22%.
32% of all pedestrian fatalities happen between 8 and 11:59 pm, and 37% happen on the weekend, not during the week. Alcohol is a major factor in the pedestrian traffic fatalities stats, with an alarming 48% of all pedestrian crashes indicating either the pedestrian or the driver – and sometimes both – were under the influence of alcohol.
It's no secret that in many pedestrian death or serious injury crashes, the person struck by a car was partially or totally responsible for the accident, having darted out in front of a moving car while attempting to cross in an unsafe manner, and/or being under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
During just a one-week period in March 2019, 4 pedestrians in Lee County, Florida, were killed by vehicles, 2 of those involving hit-and-run drivers. These deaths happened on Palm Beach Boulevard in east Lee County, on Fort Myers Beach and in North Fort Myers.
Many people need to walk to get where they're going. They may not own a vehicle or be able to always find a ride to go to get groceries or get to a doctor. In a lot of cases, people need to walk some distance just to get to a bus stop. Wherever you have people walking along the roadside together with drivers who are often driving distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you have a recipe for disaster.
Even being on the sidewalk is no guarantee of safety. In Cape Coral, Florida, in early 2019, 2 pedestrians walking down the sidewalk were violently struck by a car driven by a drunk driver who veered off the roadway.
Hit-and-run pedestrian crashes are a very concerning problem in Southwest Florida, as well. When someone strikes someone walking alongside the road, the first reaction is panic. It doesn't matter if you are a legally-licensed driver who is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the natural reaction when you strike a person with your car is panic.
But in many cases, the driver may not even have a legal driver's license, have any insurance, and/or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol – or both. These drivers leave the scene for several reasons. They start thinking about the consequences of their actions, and realize what will happen to them for being found to have no license, no insurance or no ability to pass a breath or blood alcohol screening.
They are not thinking clearly and make the stupid decision to flee the scene. This just compounds the problem. Law enforcement forensic investigations are so sophisticated, and there are likely people who may have witnessed the crash, that the hit-and-run driver almost always ends up being found. And when they are, the punishment for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death will be much greater than had they just stayed at the scene and faced the consequences.
There have been several notable cases in Lee County involving hit-and-run pedestrian crashes, including one involving a young girl walking down a rural road in North Fort Myers. As of this writing, they have yet to find the at-fault driver, thought to be driving a pickup truck, and the local community is hoping they are found and brought to justice quickly.
Who is at Fault in a Pedestrian vs. Car Accident?
If you're injured by a driver of a car while you are on foot, you may be entitled to financial compensation to help pay for your physical injuries, immediate and future medical care, lost wages from be rendered unable to make a living, pain and suffering, mental anguish and other damages.
Drivers have a legal duty to behave in a reasonable and lawful manner when behind the wheel. If a driver hits you and they were speeding, drunk or high on drugs, driving in a negligent or careless manner or some other form of operating a motor vehicle illegally, you will likely be entitled to obtain a financial settlement.
Children, the segment of the population most at risk of being in a pedestrian crash, are owed an additional duty of special care by drivers. When you're in a school zone or in like to pick up your kids from school, for example, you are mandated to use extra caution because of the presence of children.
In order to establish negligence on the part of a driver who hits a pedestrian, a few things dictate whether you are entitled to receive money for your injuries:
- Did the driver owe a legal duty to the pedestrian?
- Did the driver breach that duty in some way, like speeding or driving recklessly?
- Did the driver's actions – or lack of actions – result in causing the crash?
- Was the pedestrian injured as a direct result of the driver's action or inaction?
The answers to these 4 questions will largely dictate whether you have a legal case for financial compensation following the crash.
But as we mentioned, the pedestrian also has legal obligations under Florida law. A judge or jury may find a pedestrian may have contributed to the cause of the crash, and therefore be found responsible for a percentage of contributory negligence. Some examples include:
- Trying to cross an intersection in a “no walk” zone or signal
- Trying to cross at an area with no marked crosswalk
- Disrupting the flow of traffic
- Jumping out into traffic unexpectedly
What to Do if You've Been Hit by a Car
If you find yourself in the traumatic circumstance of having been struck by a car while you were on foot, there are some things you need to do quickly:
- If you are physically and mentally able, call the police, or at least ask a witness to call if possible. A written police report can be a critical part of any crash investigation and subsequent lawsuit.
- Do not leave the scene of the crash. Wait for law enforcement and medical personnel to arrive and assess your injuries.
- Try to get names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen what happened.
- Do NOT make any statements to anyone other then the investigating police officers. Never speak to an insurance company or other drivers involved without first consulting a skilled personal injury attorney.
Call the Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Goldberg Noone, LLC
We've spent 20 years fighting for justice on behalf of pedestrians who have been wrongfully injured as the result of someone's negligence or carelessness. We know all the tricks and traps the giant insurance companies, staffed by their army of lawyers, will throw in your way in an attempt to prevent you from putting your life back together.
Getting the right answers to your questions following a pedestrian crash anywhere in Southwest Florida is a simple as one phone call, and never costs you a thing. Call our experienced team at 239-461-5508, and we‘ll help you determine if you may have a legal course of action to obtain a financial settlement or favorable jury award because of your injuries. Or, you can complete this short form, and an attorney will contact you immediately.
Never hesitate to call us with any legal question. People often think that because they don't own a car, they're not entitled to any money if they're hit while walking. This is not the case at Goldberg Noone Law Firm – we're here to fight for you, and will aggressively stand up for your full legal rights.
NOTE: There are other types of pedestrian accidents that can result in injury. For more information, please read our information on Slip and Fall injuries here.