Walking is a fantastic way to get around. Not only is it a great way to get some exercise and burn a few extra calories, but it’s also free and environmentally friendly. On top of all those benefits, Orlando has fantastic weather pretty much all year, so you can’t really find a better place to walk around and get some fresh air.
Even though there are a ton of benefits associated with walking, pedestrians are at risk of getting hit by cars, especially in Florida. Unfortunately, Florida is one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. According to recent data, Florida was ranked as the second most dangerous state for pedestrians in the period between 2016 and 2020. Additionally, Orlando and Daytona Beach were some of the most dangerous places in Florida for pedestrians.
Hundreds of people get hit by cars every year in Florida. With so many pedestrian accidents, the insurance companies get a tremendous amount of experience in handling pedestrian accident claims. Thus, they have perfected their strategies for minimizing peoples’ claims.
If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Don’t let the insurance company bully you into giving them recorded statements or paying you pennies on the dollar. We offer free legal consultations, and we’re happy to help you. You can schedule your free consultation at (321) 352-7588 or contact us on our website to schedule by email.
When is a Pedestrian Liable After a Pedestrian Accident in Florida?
When a vehicle collides with a pedestrian, there’s often significant damage. The battle of metal and flesh usually results in a lopsided victory. Although pedestrians are extremely vulnerable when it comes to pedestrian accidents, fault is not always obvious.
Both automobile drivers and pedestrians have a duty to act reasonably on our Florida roads and highways. This means that both pedestrians and drivers must follow the rules of the road. When a pedestrian breaches these rules, he or she may be at fault for the accident, even if the pedestrian suffered horrific or fatal injuries.
When a pedestrian is found at fault for a pedestrian accident, it is often because the pedestrian broke some rule of the road. For example, a pedestrian that walks across the crosswalk when the signal clearly says, “Don’t Walk,” and then got hit by a car obeying the rules of the road, will have a hard time proving that the driver was completely at fault for the accident. Similarly, a pedestrian that is hit by a car while jaywalking cannot then place all the blame on the driver. After all, the rules prohibiting jaywalking are largely there to prevent jaywalkers from getting hit by cars. Break the rule and suffer the consequences.
Shared Blame in a Florida Pedestrian Accident
Did you notice the language I used above? Did you notice that I said the pedestrian can’t place all the blame on the driver and that the driver might not be completely at fault? That’s because people may share the blame in Florida because Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. Thus, the pedestrian and the driver may be assigned a portion of blame, say 50% each. Then, if a jury verdict is rendered for a total of $100,000 to the victim-pedestrian, that recovery would then be reduced by the pedestrian’s share of fault. Accordingly, a pedestrian may have a viable injury claim in Florida, even if the pedestrian shares a portion of the blame for the pedestrian accident.
When is a Driver At Fault for Hitting a Pedestrian With a Car or Truck in Florida?
The question of liability often boils down to whether the pedestrian can prove the elements of negligence. In other words, the pedestrian must show that the driver of the vehicle breached a duty to act reasonably to avoid harming the pedestrian, and the pedestrian suffered injuries as a result of that breach of care. Let’s talk about these elements of negligence in the context of pedestrian accidents.
Did the Driver Owe the Pedestrian a Duty of Care?
Drivers on Florida roads owe pedestrians and other drivers a duty to act reasonably and to avoid carelessly or recklessly causing harm. Florida Statute 316.130(15) states that Florida drivers must use due care and caution at all times to avoid colliding with pedestrians. Additionally, Florida law requires drivers to exercise proper precautions where children or incapacitated folks are present. Thus, pursuant to Florida law, a pedestrian should have no problem proving that the driver owed him or her a duty of care.
Did the Driver Breach that Duty of Care?
When a driver breaks traffic laws or otherwise acts carelessly, that’s a breach of the duty of care. Not every breach is going to result in an accident or a collision with a pedestrian. However, when a driver breaches the duty of care and injures the plaintiff, the plaintiff will likely be able to establish that the driver breached the duty of care. Below are some of the more common ways a driver may breach the duty of care:
- Texting and driving
- Aggressive driving
- Running a stop sign
- Violating a traffic signal
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Did the Plaintiff Suffer Damages?
The element of damages is often fairly easy to prove. The plaintiff simply needs to demonstrate that he or she suffered injuries as a result of the driver’s careless actions. Pedestrians often suffer a number of injuries as a result of being hit by a care. Some of the more typical injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Torn ligaments
- Bruises and lacerations
Did the Driver Cause the Plaintiff’s Damages?
The final element a plaintiff must prove is causation. Causation is composed of actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause asks if the plaintiff would have suffered an injury but for the actions of the defendant. Proximate cause, sometimes called “legal cause,” asks if the injury the plaintiff suffered was a reasonably foreseeable. Causation is usually easy to prove in the context of pedestrian accidents because the pedestrian would not have suffered injury if the driver had not run into the pedestrian. Additionally, it’s foreseeable that bad things can happen when you act carelessly behind the wheel of a car.
Florida Rules for Pedestrians and Vehicle Traffic (Florida Statute 316.130)
A great place to look when we are talking about liability is the relevant state statute. Florida has a statute that governs pedestrians in the context of vehicle traffic, and this article would not be complete without language from the statute. This statute is Florida Statute 316.130, and you can view the statute below.
Pedestrians; traffic regulations.
- A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic control device specifically applicable to the pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a police officer.
- Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic control signals at intersections as provided in [the Florida traffic lights statute], but at all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and be subject to the restrictions stated in this chapter.
- Where sidewalks are provided, no pedestrian shall, unless required by other circumstances, walk along and upon the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic.
- Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway in relation to the pedestrian’s direction of travel, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.
- No person shall stand in the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle.
- No person shall stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway.
- (a) The driver of a vehicle at an intersection that has a traffic control signal in place shall stop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permitted signal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. (b) The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. (c) When traffic control signals are not in place or in operation and there is no signage indicating otherwise, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
- 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.
- Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.
- Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
- Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
- No pedestrian shall, except in a marked crosswalk, cross a roadway at any other place than by a route at right angles to the curb or by the shortest route to the opposite curb.
- Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.
- No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic control devices, and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.
- Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.
- No pedestrian shall enter or remain upon any bridge or approach thereto beyond the bridge signal, gate, or barrier after a bridge operation signal indication has been given. No pedestrian shall pass through, around, over, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad grade crossing or bridge while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed.
- No pedestrian may jump or dive from a publicly owned bridge. Nothing in this provision requires the state or any political subdivision of the state to post signs notifying the public of this provision. The failure to post a sign may not be construed by any court to create liability on the part of the state or any of its political subdivisions for injuries sustained as a result of jumping or diving from a bridge in violation of this subsection.
- No pedestrian shall walk upon a limited access facility or a ramp connecting a limited access facility to any other street or highway; however, this subsection does not apply to maintenance personnel of any governmental subdivision.
- A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable pursuant to chapter 318 as either a pedestrian violation or, if the infraction resulted from the operation of a vehicle, as a moving violation.