As the population in warm-weather states such as Florida grows, pedestrian accidents increase. According to U.S. News & World Report, Florida saw nearly 5,900 pedestrian deaths in the last decade, making it far and away the most dangerous state to walk on public roadways. Alabama was the second-most dangerous state, with only 936 pedestrian deaths during that same time.
The danger to pedestrians involved more factors than simply the number of deaths. Other states—including Texas, with around 5,300 pedestrian deaths during those same years—had a higher number of deaths but lower risks when considering factors like population.
Portrait of a Pedestrian: Who Is Most Likely to Be Hit?
Contrary to popular belief, young children walking to school are not the most common victims of pedestrian accidents, though children are the most common victims to die as a result of their injuries. Their small size causes the impact point of a vehicle to rise their heads or chests, leading to more severe injuries than if the impact occurred lower on their bodies, as it usually does for adults.
According to available statistics:
Male pedestrians are more likely to be injured in pedestrian accidents than female pedestrians.
Teens and adults under 30 are more likely to seek emergency treatment for injuries incurred in pedestrian accidents.
One out of every five pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways and one in 10 injured pedestrians are over 60.
Twenty percent of children who died in traffic accidents were pedestrians.
The Responsibilities of Pedestrians and Drivers Sharing the Road
In Clearwater, pedestrians must obey traffic laws, walk on sidewalks where available facing oncoming traffic, and cross roadways within crosswalks or at intersections. Motor vehicle drivers have responsibilities when it comes to pedestrians as well, including stopping for crosswalks or school buses that stop to pick up or drop off students who cross the road.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
The most common cause of pedestrian accidents is negligence by the drivers involved.
Examples of negligence include:
A speeding driver deprives themselves of the time they need to detect and respond to a hazard on the roadway, such as a person crossing the street. Speeding also significantly increases the distance it takes to stop.
Distractions involve anything that causes a driver to take their hands from the wheel, their eyes from the road, or their minds from driving safely. One distraction of particular concern in Clearwater is texting while driving, because it involves all three types of distraction. Sending or reading a text takes about five seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, a texting driver will have traveled the length of a football field without having both hands on the wheel, looking at the road, or thinking about driving. That is a lot of distance in which a pedestrian can enter a crosswalk or a red light can change without the driver realizing it.
At night, pedestrians can be very difficult to see, particularly in poor lighting, inclement weather, or when the pedestrian is wearing dark clothes. Nearly 80 percent of all pedestrian accidents occur after dark.
Alcohol degrades the skills needed for safe driving, including the ability to track moving objects such as a pedestrian moving through an intersection, control the vehicle’s speed, or brake in time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all pedestrian accidents involve alcohol.
Pedestrians are legally required to use marked crosswalks to cross the roadway where they exist. They are also permitted to cross at intersections if they obey traffic right-of-way laws. Drivers who pass through the same intersection must yield the right-of-way.
While not necessarily more likely to involve a pedestrian, SUVs are more likely to cause fatal pedestrian accidents than smaller passenger vehicles due to their higher profiles, which raise the impact point to the pedestrian’s head or chest, rather than the lower extremities like passenger cars.
The Injuries Incurred by Pedestrians in Accidents With Motor Vehicles
The most severe injuries that result from pedestrian accidents are generally to the part of the pedestrian’s body that the vehicle directly hit. Initial vehicle impact-point injuries to are generally more severe than secondary impact injuries that occur when the pedestrian hits the vehicle’s windshield or the pavement after the vehicle strikes them.
The most common injuries incurred in Clearwater pedestrian accidents include:
These are generally injuries affecting the organs that make up the body’s central nervous system—the brain and the spinal cord. Both traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are highly likely to produce significant, permanent disabilities that often prevent the sufferer from earning an income or living independently.
In pedestrian accidents involving smaller vehicles, bone fractures often occur in the hips or legs when the vehicle’s bumper impacts them. It is also common to see pedestrians suffer broken bones in their arms or wrists because of their secondary impact with the ground.
Also known as friction burns, contact between the skin and the rough surface of the roadway causes these abrasions.
Seeking Compensation after a Clearwater Pedestrian Accident
In Clearwater, individuals whom pedestrian accidents injured can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury. This process usually involves the claimant—with the assistance of their attorney—first demanding the value of their pedestrian accident claim from the at-fault party’s insurance provider. If the insurance provider fails to pay that claim, the claimant can file the case in court or the claimant’s attorney can engage in settlement negotiations with the insurance adjuster.
A settlement is a resolution of the case outside of court. Usually, it involves a compromise where the claimant accepts less compensation than they originally demanded and the insurance company agrees to pay the claim immediately rather than fighting against the claim in court.
Your Clearwater pedestrian accident attorney will never decide for you whether to accept a settlement offer. They will, however, advise you about the pros and cons of each offer so that you can make an informed decision about whether to accept it. Once the settlement agreement is signed by both parties and approved by the court, you cannot ask for more money from the defendant.
If the other side refuses to make a fair settlement offer, the claimant may file a lawsuit in the appropriate court within two years of the pedestrian accident. The parties can continue settlement negotiations until the court decides the matter.
Proving Liability in a Clearwater Pedestrian Accident
As previously noted, the driver of the motor vehicle that struck the pedestrian most often caused the accident.
To prove that a negligent driver was responsible for the injuries you incurred in a Clearwater pedestrian accident, your skilled lawyer must show:
The at-fault driver had a duty to drive safely and legally to avoid causing injuries to others.
The at-fault driver took actions that violated the duty of driving safely and legally, which is known as a breach of the duty of care.
The breach resulted in a pedestrian accident in which you suffered injuries that subsequently caused you to incur expenses and other damages.
Recoverable Damages from a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Recovering damages refers to seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts your injury caused you.
Examples of the expenses and impacts pedestrians seek compensation for include:
All reasonable costs associated with medically treating the injury.
Wage loss if the pedestrian accident injuries prevented the victim from working during their recovery.
Loss of future earning capacity if the injury resulted in the victim’s permanent inability to earn an income.
Physical pain and suffering related to the injury, associated complications, or the medical treatment of injuries and complications.
Emotional distress caused by the trauma of the accident or the severe changes they caused to the victim’s life.
If You Lost a Loved One in a Pedestrian Accident
If the victim dies in a Clearwater pedestrian accident that someone else’s carelessness or recklessness caused, family members of the deceased can seek compensation for the financial and psychological losses they incurred from the death through a wrongful death claim.
They can seek compensation for losses such as:
Medical expenses for the deceased’s final injury.
Loss of services and support provided by the deceased to their family members.
Loss of income and benefits the deceased would have likely earned if they had survived the accident.
Loss of love, guidance, care, companionship, and nurturing afforded by the deceased to their family members.
Loss of net accumulations to the deceased’s estate.
The cost of the deceased’s funeral service and burial or cremation.
Is Compensation Available for Injured Child Pedestrians?
Because children are not old enough to make legal decisions, they cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. However, their parents or legal guardians can file the claim on the child’s behalf to seek compensation for past and future medical expenses related to the injuries they sustained in an accident.
The parents or guardians must file this claim within two years of the accident. Florida law extends the statute of limitations in cases involving minors who do not have a permanent parent or guardian or whose parents have interests adverse to the child. Minor children have up to seven years to file the claim on their own.
Let a Clearwater Pedestrian Accident Attorney Help
Pedestrian accident injuries can cause you permanent disabilities, a long recovery time, and extraordinary financial and emotional impacts. Let a Clearwater pedestrian accident lawyer at Perenich Law Injury Attorneys listen to your story and describe how our legal team can seek compensation for your claim.