West Palm Beach is considered a pedestrian-friendly city. You can easily walk from the beach to local shops, and tourists and residents alike enjoy the tropical weather. Unfortunately, drivers may not always see pedestrians on the road, leading to accidents that can cause serious injuries.
If you or a loved one is injured in a pedestrian accident, you have legal rights. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we have helped thousands of people get the compensation they deserve after they’ve been injured. We have the resources and experience needed to fight for your rights. Give us a call at 800-431-6841 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT
If you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident in West Palm Beach, it’s vital that you try to get to a safe location if it’s possible to do so. If you’re seriously injured, don’t move! The pavement may be hot, but dealing with the heat will be much better than aggravating or worsening a back, head or neck injury.
Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible if the driver or any witnesses don’t do so first. While you’re waiting for the ambulance, try to exchange information with the driver. This may be difficult if you’re seriously injured, and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get their information immediately.
When the ambulance arrives, follow any and all medical advice the EMTs provide. If they tell you to go to the emergency room, do so — don’t worry about the cost of the ambulance ride. Be sure to follow up with your primary care provider, and follow all treatment regimen you are prescribed.
As soon as you’re able, be sure to call a West Palm Beach pedestrian accident. The sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner they can begin building a case on your behalf.
EVIDENCE YOU NEED TO GET THE COMPENSATION YOU DESERVE
A pedestrian accident victim or loved ones who have lost a family member in an accident can pursue a claim from the driver responsible for the accident. To make a successful pedestrian accident claim, the injured victim will need to show:
- That the driver was unreasonably negligent or careless (more on this below)
- That the carelessness or negligence was the cause of the accident
- That some type of harm such as injury or death resulted from the driver’s behavior
- That the driver or insurance company has the means to compensate
Evidence from the scene of the accident, a police report, witness statements and expert testimony from an accident reconstruction specialist can all be used to help you prove these elements of your case. A West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer will work with you to maximize your compensation.
DETERMINING FAULT IN A PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT
Contrary to popular belief, the driver is not always at fault in a pedestrian accident. For example, if a pedestrian crosses the street in a location or at a time when they aren’t allowed to, they may be held partially at fault. For example, pedestrians generally can’t cross the road against a red light. However, pedestrians are allowed to cross the street even if there’s no crosswalk, given that they give right-of-way to vehicle traffic.
Florida follows a comparative negligence law. This means you can still receive compensation for your injuries and other damages. However, the amount you receive will be lessened by the amount you are at fault. If the driver is considered to be at fault, they must have either intentionally caused your injuries or, much more likely, acted negligently.
Negligence is a legal term meaning someone acted in a way that a reasonable person wouldn’t, and therefore caused injury. Four general elements must be proven to show negligence, which were briefly mentioned before. They include:
- Duty of care: Everyone on the road has an obligation to follow traffic laws and take all reasonable steps to ensure they don’t cause an accident
- Breach of duty of care: If a driver fails to take proper precautions to avoid an accident, and they hit a pedestrian, they are said to have breached their duty of care
- Causation: You must be able to show that your injuries were directly caused by the accident
- Real damages: Finally, you must have real damages that can be compensated. In Florida, this means medical expenses, lost wages and other damages that aren’t covered by personal injury protection (PIP) insurance
WEST PALM BEACH PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT STATISTICS
West Palm Beach has a fairly high rate of pedestrian accidents compared to the rest of Florida.
According to 2018 statistics from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there were 595 motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians in Palm Beach County. These accidents led to 519 injuries and 42 fatalities.
Florida as a whole has an extremely high rate of pedestrian fatalities. One report reveals that Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrian deaths.
In response to the dangers of pedestrian accidents, Palm Beach County conducted a study reviewing the most dangerous streets and intersections. They highlighted the Federal Highway from Camino Real to Glades Road and Ocean Boulevard from Linton Boulevard to Thomas Street as the two main corridors where pedestrian accidents happen most frequently.
LEADING CAUSES OF PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS IN WEST PALM BEACH
Pedestrian accidents in West Palm Beach have a variety of common causes. They include:
Vehicles Turning Through a Crosswalk Into a Pedestrian Path
Florida law requires vehicles to yield to all pedestrians in marked crosswalks. In areas with unmarked crosswalks, vehicles are still expected to yield to crossing traffic before turning through an intersection. Yet many vehicles make their turns hastily, resulting in striking an unseen pedestrian.
Vehicles Striking Someone Jogging or Walking Alongside the Road
Pedestrians are expected to use sidewalks or stay as far upon the shoulder of the road as possible to avoid being struck. They should also move against the flow of traffic, since they can see oncoming cars more clearly than those coming from behind. Even with these precautions, Florida’s unsafe roads can mean that a pedestrian gets struck by a driver who is distracted or too close to the shoulder.
Failure to Yield
Pedestrians are legally allowed to cross in crosswalks and in areas where there is not a marked traffic crossing at either end of the roadway. Many vehicles in Florida may ignore crosswalks or fail to see pedestrians in time.
Backing Up Into Pedestrian
This scenario is especially common in parking lots and busy neighborhoods. Drivers backing up are supposed to thoroughly check their surroundings and watch for crossing pedestrians, especially small children.
Drivers who are speeding are more likely to strike a pedestrian because they do not see them or do not have time to react and avoid a collision once they are spotted.
Under the Influence of Drugs/ Alcohol
The decision-making capabilities of drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or other substances are severely impaired. Delayed reactions, inattention, and trouble processing information can all make a pedestrian injury more likely.
According to FLHSMV, 323 crashes in West Palm Beach in 2018 involved alcohol use, and 45 involved drug use.
Pedestrians Moving Into Traffic’s Way
Unfortunately, some accidents may lay partial or total blame at the feet of the pedestrian who was hit. However, Florida’s comparative fault statute allows accident victims to seek compensation from all at-fault parties, even if they contributed fault. The final damages awarded will be reduced by the pedestrian’s accepted portion of fault for their own injuries.
West Palm Beach Pedestrian Accident Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I Have to Cross the Street Only at Marked Intersections?
No. Florida law allows for individuals to cross nearly anywhere, provided they can do so safely and there are no traffic lights or marked crosswalks within the next block. There are no “jaywalking laws,” and someone can legally cross a street at any point in our state.
However, they are expected to cross safely. Florida Statutes § 316.130 (8) states that, “no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.”
What If I Am Accused of Being at Fault for My Own Accident?
“Fault” is only finally determined in a court of law. You may have been given a citation for violating a specific law prior to your collision, but that does not mean that the officer has designated you as being at-fault. Fault can be determined through an investigation and, if need be, a verdict in a jury trial.
Even if you are partially at-fault, you can still recover compensation for your injuries if it is determined that another party is 1% or more at-fault. Each party pays for their own percentage of the final total damages.
Can I File Under My PIP Insurance If I Am Hit as a Pedestrian?
Yes. If you have a current personal injury protection policy, you can file a claim for 80% of your medical costs and a portion of your lost wages. You will need to prove that you have a “serious injury” and establish that another party was at fault in order to recover the remainder of your damages from a bodily injury liability policy.
I Was Struck in a Hit-and-Run, What Can I Do?
Report your accident to the police immediately, and seek immediate medical attention. If police are able to identify the driver who hit you, you can then file under their BIL policy, if they have one available.
You can still file for your injury costs under your PIP insurance policy. Some uninsured/under-insured motorist policies also cover situations where you are on foot and struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Do I Need to Go to the ER or a Doctor If I Don’t Think I’m Hurt?
If you are struck as a pedestrian, you could have hidden injuries that only show up after a few days. It is critical to get early medical care and a comprehensive diagnosis. Always go to the ER or a doctor within 48 hours of being involved in an accident.
How Do I Prove the Driver Was At Fault?
Witness statements are often the best piece of evidence in a pedestrian accident case. Nearby security camera or dashcam footage may also prove useful. Otherwise, it is critical to report your accident to police. They may be able to prove the driver was under the influence, or they can examine factors that suggest the driver should have yielded or was clearly distracted at the wheel.
How Do I Know If I Need a Lawyer for My Pedestrian Accident Case?
The more damages you have, the more the insurance company or the at-fault driver will fight your claim. Seek out the services of an attorney if you think you have sustained a serious injury that will result in major long-term losses, including lost wages. Your attorney can also help you investigate fault and document your losses. Ultimately, they can provide benefits to most pedestrian accident cases involving a significant injury.
HOW A WEST PALM BEACH PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT LAWYER CAN HELP YOU
Dealing with the insurance company after a pedestrian accident can be a nightmare. They may offer a settlement that’s far less than what you’re actually owed. But they also know you may be struggling financially with medical bills and being unable to work, so they hope you’ll take a low-ball offer. However, once you accept that offer, you forfeit your right to seek greater compensation.
Before you accept any kind of settlement offer from the insurance company, speak to a pedestrian accident attorney in West Palm Beach. An experienced attorney can review all of the details of your case and help you determine all of your legal options.
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our lawyers have decades of combined experience helping injury victims get the compensation they deserve. We have recovered over $1 BILLION on behalf of our clients. Give us a call at 800-431-6841 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.