Everyday, people choose to walk and bike for exercise, transportation, and personal enjoyment. Unfortunately, no matter how many public safety campaigns promote pedestrian and bicycle safety, crashes involving these groups remain high around the country. In 2019, more than 6,590 pedestrian fatalities occurred — the highest numbers in 30 years.
The bicycle-related accident statistics are just as tragic. On average, about 17 pedestrians and two cyclists were killed each day in crashes in 2018. Together, they account for one-fifth of traffic deaths.
Unfortunately, the State of Florida has the highest rate of injuries for pedestrians and bicyclists, with deaths among Florida bicyclists aged 20 and older tripling since 1975, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.
With nothing between your body and the front or back of a motor vehicle, it’s not surprising that accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians are so deadly. If you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic accident while walking or biking, you may be entitled to compensation, which you can earn through a personal injury claim.
What Is a Pedestrian Accident?
A pedestrian accident is an accident involving a pedestrian with a motor vehicle on a walkway or roadways. Essentially, any incident involving a person using a roadway with another force is considered a pedestrian accident.
Some examples of pedestrians include:
- Joggers or runners
- Segway riders
- Roller skaters
While highway traffic deaths have been declining in recent years, bicycle accident fatality rates have been increasing — whether from pedestrian accidents or collisions with other bicycles and motor vehicles.
Common Causes of Bike and Pedestrian Accidents
Below are some of the more common causes of pedestrian accidents.
Motorists can be distracted while driving, often looking at their smartphones or other mobile devices or just not paying attention to the road. In these cases, a motorist can easily hit a pedestrian or cyclist.
Motorists recklessly driving can easily cause serious injuries or death for pedestrians.
Vehicles speeding too fast on busy roads with plenty of pedestrians and cyclists can cause serious injuries or death.
Areas such as sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots tend to have tighter space than roads, but they are busier with pedestrians and cyclists. There is less time for motorists to avoid an accident, especially if they are speeding.
Poor Intersection Design and Maintenance
Most cyclist accidents happen at intersections with motorists, especially if the intersection is poorly designed.
Motorists driving under the influence are responsible for many serious accidents with pedestrians.
Six Common Pedestrian and Bicyclist Injuries
Bicyclist and pedestrian accident injuries can be serious and even fatal. Some of the more common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Lacerations and bruising
- Internal bleeding
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Sometimes, even taking the most precautions against accidents won’t always protect you against reckless drivers. When that happens, it’s important to find a pedestrian accident lawyer who will fight for your right to compensation.
The Types of Cases for Bike and Pedestrian Accidents
There are a number of civil and criminal consequences for pedestrian accidents.
Hit and Run
This occurs when a motorist accidentally hits a pedestrian, but then flees the scene. A hit and run is a criminal charge that can include a felony arrest and a potential prison sentence.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in a DUI arrest and conviction, as well as harsher penalties.
If a pedestrian dies as a result of an accident in which the driver is at fault, that motorist may face criminal charges. However, this would be only under very specific circumstances. The driver would have to be convicted of driving recklessly, and therefore be considered “negligent.”
Personal Injury Lawsuit
A pedestrian who is hit and injured in an accident by a motorist may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation from the driver at fault.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit allows the surviving family of a deceased person to bring a civil lawsuit against those responsible for causing the death, such as the motorist involved in the death of a pedestrian. Every state in the United States has a version of a wrongful death law.
How Fault Is Determined in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Determining who is to blame for the accident is likely one of the first thoughts to come to mind when a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by a car is determining whether to file a lawsuit. Typically, fault is determined by the law of negligence. Essentially, this means that the individual who failed to demonstrate responsible care during the event may be considered negligent, and therefore at fault.
Both the pedestrian and vehicle driver can be considered at fault for the same accident. For example, the pedestrian may have been hit jaywalking by a speeding driver. This situation would be treated differently depending on the state.
In Florida, the pedestrian can be held completely or at least partially at fault for the accident if they are convicted of not exercising caution when crossing the street or crossing an intersection against the signal. However, a motorist who injures a pedestrian can be held liable for any injuries if they were not following Florida law.
Bicycle accidents generally follow the same guidelines, but with other legal considerations. In nearly every state, a bicycle is considered to be a “vehicle” just like motorists, and so cyclists must follow the rules of the road. For collisions occurring at intersections, which are some of the more common accidents, the fault usually boils down to whether the car or the bike had the right-of-way.
The Cost of Hiring a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Pedestrian accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay them anything unless they win your case. In addition, the majority of pedestrian accident lawyers offer a free assessment of your case.
Beware of any attorneys who request money upfront. In general, personal injury lawyers do not charge clients hourly fees.
Compensation in Pedestrian Accident Cases
If you have been struck by a motor vehicle, pursuing a lawsuit may seek to recover the following compensation:
Pedestrian accident victims may receive compensation for current and future medical expenses due to their injuries. Besides ambulance fees and therapy, these fees may include adaptive equipment such as wheelchair ramps that may be necessary.
Current and Future Lost Income
If the pedestrian's or cyclist's injuries cause them to miss time at work, they may be able to recover compensation for these lost wages.
Pain and Suffering
This compensation would include any payments made to the pedestrian or cyclist for the physical pain from their injuries.
While the mental effects of the accident can be difficult to prove, the injured party can receive payment for the emotional suffering, such as fear, depression, and emotional trauma. It’s important to note that emotional anguish damages are only received typically in severe injury cases.
If the accident is fatal, surviving family members may pursue a lawsuit to seek compensation to cover funeral costs.
Your Next Steps for Your Pedestrian and Bike Accident Case
If you’ve decided to pursue a lawsuit, your next step is to hire the right lawyer.
When to Look for a Good Pedestrian Accident Law Firm
You should begin to pursue a personal injury case as soon as you can. Since accident claims are time sensitive, the longer you wait to file, the less likely you will receive the compensation you deserve.
Hiring a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after the accident occurs should be a priority — even if you’re still recovering from the incident. In the same way you receive immediate medical help following an accident, seeking out legal help should be immediate as well.
What to Look for When You Choose a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Deciding on the right representation for your personal injury claim can be a challenge in itself. However, finding the best personal injury lawyer for your claim does not have to be difficult. There are some traits of an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to look out for.
Positive traits to consider:
- Attentiveness and genuine concern for your needs
- Positive communication skills
- Experience with cases similar to yours
Negative traits to keep an eye out for:
- Poor patience
- Professional complaint records
- Limited flexibility with your needs
Consultations and interviews can help gauge if an accident attorney is the best fit for your case. It’s important to press for questions about who would work on your claim and how long they think the case would take to settle.
Questions to Ask Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
When finding the right professional representation for your case, it’s important to ask questions to find the best attorney and to understand more about your bike or pedestrian accident case.
What Personal Injury Specialities Fit Your Case Type?
A “personal injury attorney” is a broad, generalized title; there are limitless specialties and unique case types of personal injury attorneys, so it’s important to ask if their experience is with pedestrian accident cases.
Besides pedestrian accidents, some other types of personal injury cases include:
- Wrongful death
- Products liability
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability
The more experience an attorney has in case types like yours, the more beneficial their help will be.
What Do Florida No-Fault Insurance Rules Have to Do With My Right to Compensation?
If you’re a registered Florida car owner, then you’re aware that you must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This insurance is also known as “no-fault” coverage, protecting you against the costs you may suffer in all kinds of situations, including a pedestrian accident.
Since PIP insurance coverage serves as your primary insurance to pay for accident-related costs, Florida laws limit your rights to seek compensation from the party at fault unless the costs of your injuries exceed your PIP coverage limits.
Who Can I Sue for Damages After a Pedestrian Accident?
It’s your pedestrian accident attorney’s job to figure out who has legal liability to you for damages. In some cases, one or more individuals or entities may be responsible, including:
- Motorists who engage in reckless driving and collide with a pedestrian.
- Businesses and other entities who employ motorists who caused a cyclist or pedestrian accident.
- Manufacturers of automotive parts and equipment that sell defective products leading to a pedestrian accident.
- Government entities responsible for designing and maintaining road facilities for pedestrians.
Get Started With the Best Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
When you need a dedicated and experienced pedestrian accident lawyer, you don’t have to look further than Lowman Law Firm. We offer free comprehensive case consultations on all personal injury matters, and clients only pay fees or costs if the case is won. With Lowman, you can trust that your case is in the best hands.
Our lawyers provide statewide representation, handling personal injury cases in 34 Florida counties, including Hernando, Citrus, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas. We also manage cases in several other states.