Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Every seven minutes, a pedestrian in the U.S. is injured due to an accident involving a motor vehicle. Every two hours, someone dies. At Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. our firm is committed to seeking justice and fighting for our clients from careless drivers. That begins by examining the common causes of why these incidents happen in the first place. When we know the cause, we know what to look for and can more quickly identify who was responsible and work to determine damages. To prevail in these serious injury cases, pedestrian accident victims must prove that a defendant (responsible party) was negligent.  Negligence is proven when a defendant owed a pedestrian a duty of care, that duty was breached or violated, and that a pedestrian suffered personal injury or death as a result.

Pedestrians are Vulnerable

Because pedestrians have almost little no protection on the road ways and lack any comparable physical protections a motor vehicle provides to passengers, they are designated "vulnerable road users." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports pedestrians are almost twice as likely to die in a crash than someone in a car. A report by Smart Growth America revealed Americans were seven times more likely to die as a pedestrian than in a natural disaster.

Negligent Drivers Cause Most Miami Pedestrian Accidents

Most car crashes in Miami causing serious injury or death to pedestrians are preventable and avoidable and the direct result of negligent drivers. These are motorists who fail to use reasonable care while driving thereby breaching their duty of care owed to passengers, occupants of other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. Although one need not necessarily break the law to be deemed negligent, a pedestrian injury attorney in Miami knows that many cases of negligence involve some type of criminal violation or traffic infraction. 

Some examples of some of the common causes of pedestrian crashes include:

  • Excessive Speed: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that while most pedestrians are struck at speeds of 20 mph or lower, those struck at speeds of 30 mph or greater were exponentially more likely to suffer serious injury or death. Florida law prohibits traveling at excessive speeds. Florida Statute 316.183 outlaws "unlawful speed," which is characterized by traveling at a "speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions." Drivers are expected to have regard to the actual and potential hazards. That means not simply abiding the speed limit (maximum 30 mph in business or residential districts), but also taking careful consideration of the existing conditions (i.e., traffic congestion and flow, construction, weather, time of day, type of street, etc.).
  • Failure to Abide a Traffic Control Device: Florida Statutes 316.075 lays out the expectations of motorists and pedestrians when encountering a traffic control device. Drivers who run red lights or roll red lights or fail to stop for pedestrians who have the right-of-way may be deemed negligent.
  • Failure to Yield:  Florida Statutes 316.123 requires that vehicles entering an intersection with a stop or yield sign do so at the clearly marked line or if none, before entering the cross walk or point nearest intersecting the roadway. If a driver is involved in a pedestrian accident after driving past a yield sign without stopping, our attorneys recognize this as prima facie evidence of the driver's failure to yield the right-of-way (meaning it's accepted as correct unless proven otherwise).
  • Distracted Driving Florida Statutes 316.305 - AKA "Florida's Ban on Texting While Driving" - prohibits use of wireless communication devices by all drivers. However, it doesn't stop motorists from talking on the phone, and this is known in some cases to be equally distracting. Given that nearly 8 in 10 Americans now have smartphones, according to The Pew Research Center, up from 35 percent in 2011, this cannot be discounted as a significant cause of pedestrian injuries in Miami.
  • Drunk Driving:  Florida Statutes 316.193 prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances, which can impair one's faculties, reduce reaction times and make one more prone to cause a collision.
  • Careless Driving: Florida Statute 316.130(15) requires every driver to exercise care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian and to exercise "proper caution" when observing any child or any obviously-confused or incapacitated person.
Pedestrian Crash Liability - Who Is Legally Responsible For Pedestrian Accidents Under Florida Law

The possibility of other factors playing a role in pedestrian accidents can't be overlooked. In fact, more than one person can considered at fault. One of the others factors our Miami pedestrian injury law firm will examine is vicarious liability of employers, car owners, and others who may have acted in a careless or negligent way that caused or contributed to an accident.  

Vicarious liability is a form liability imposed when two parties have a particular relationship for which the second party is legally responsible for someone else's negligence. Under Florida law, owners of an automobile for example, are responsible for personal injuries even in the event that they are not driving.

If the negligent driver in question was operating a vehicle while acting in the course and scope of employment (trucking companies, bus drivers, delivery drivers, etc.), his or her employer may be vicariously liable for damages. In these cases, the applicable legal doctrine would involve respondeat/superior, which is Latin for "let the master answer." For this doctrine to apply, your attorney will need to prove:

  • Owners of a motor vehicle even if they were not driving. This form of vicarious liability applies so long as the driver at the owner's permission to operate the vehicle.
  • Employer-Employee Relationship: A Negligent driver was an employee of Defendant company and caused a pedestrian accident during the course and scope of employment.
  • A Negligent employee was performing duties for his employer at the time of negligence.
  • A person engaged in a specialized mission or activity of another. 

Not all instances where it appears there is vicarious liability may invoke the doctrine. Thats why you need lawyers that specialize in this area of the law are needed to evaluate your claim. If the driver was an independent contractor, then then a company may not be responsible for the contractors negligence under Florida case law. Vehicle owners are also liable for personal injuries in pedestrian accident cases. 

In Florida, vehicles are considered a dangerous instrumentality, meaning they are inherently dangerous tools, and therefore, per the Florida Supreme Court's 1920 decision in Southern Cotton Oil Co. v. Anderson, vehicle owners are liable for any injuries caused by that tool's operation under Florida jurisprudence. 

Finally, there have been some cases in which defendants in pedestrian accident claims have asserted the victim was at least partially to blame. This is called comparative fault. Fortunately, Florida follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine, per Florida Statute 768.81. This means if a pedestrian is negligent, or partially to blame for an incident, the amount of damages will be reduced by his or her percentage of degree of fault. Our pedestrian injury attorneys in Miami, know how to protect our clients and combat these tactics. 

Personal injury victims of these incidents may suffer major if not catastrophic injuries, resulting in high medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization and other related costs. Successfully filing a legal claim for damages involves working closely with an experienced pedestrian accident and personal injury lawyer in Miami. The personal injury law firm of Gerson & Schwartz, PA is dedicated to protecting the legal rights of clients seriously injured due to negligent or careless acts of others. All cases are handles under a contingent fee.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident, then contact the Miami Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. Call us today for a free consultation by calling 305-371-6000 or using our online contact form.  

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