Pedestrian accident deaths are a national scourge in the United States. Where other countries have managed to cut pedestrian deaths in recent years, the U.S. has experienced a 46 percent increase over the last decade – rising by 5 percent in just 2020 alone. Last year, Florida ranked No. 2 for pedestrian deaths in the U.S., tallying 899 in 2021 preliminary estimates – a 25 percent increase from the year before and 12 percent of the national total.
Alarming as these figures are, they aren’t a total shocker. Florida has consistently ranked among the most dangerous places in the United States to travel on foot – and the U.S. is among the most dangerous countries in the world for pedestrians. As noted in the Dangerous By Design 2022 analysis by Smart Growth America, more than 6,500 people were struck and killed while walking in America in 2020 – about 18 daily. In 2021, the total was 7,485 – more than 20 every single day. Four of the top 10 most dangerous metro areas in America for pedestrians are in Florida. We have 7 metro areas in the top 20, with No. 14 being Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach. No. 1 is Daytona Beach.
Contributing factors include:
- Poor road designs. This is especially true for non-interstate arterial highways that prioritize large cars moving at very high speeds at the expense of other types of travelers (particularly in poorer income areas). These account for 15 percent of our country’s roads, but 70 percent of all pedestrian deaths.
- Larger vehicles. SUVs and crossovers account for about 50 percent of the market share for all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. Average car size is increasing across the board, but Americans have much fewer options for smaller cars compared to their European, South American, and Asian counterparts. Our most popular vehicles increased in average car size by 21 percent from 1982 to 2017.
- Distracted, careless drivers. This has always been an issue, of course, but smartphones and in-vehicle technology have never before been so immersive. Workers, parents, loved ones – we’re all expected to be engaged and in touch at all times, even at the expense of other key tasks – like driving.
- An aging population. Older people in some communities are more likely to walk than drive. They’re more vulnerable to accidents because they move slower and their vision, hearing, and reflexes are not what they once were. And when they are involved in pedestrian accidents, they’re at higher risk of serious and fatal injuries.
Florida, along with California, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona, account for nearly half of all pedestrian accident deaths in the country.
Legal Options in Florida Pedestrian Accident Aftermath
Surviving loved ones of those who have been killed in South Florida pedestrian accidents may face several challenges in pursuing justice – both in the civil and criminal justice system.
Our dedicated Broward County injury lawyers can provide answers to help you make informed decisions about your next steps.
Every case is different, but some of the potential avenues we will help pedestrian accident victims or surviving loved ones explore are:
- Personal Injury Protection. PIP coverage is a requirement for any motorist in Florida, per F.S. 627.736. It provides up to $10,000 to the insured and their passengers regardless of fault. However, in pedestrian accident cases, a driver’s PIP coverage can also be used to compensate an injured pedestrian – even if they were at-fault. It applies to pedestrians whose body made physical contact with the vehicle. (If you jumped out of the way, it might not apply.) PIP covers a portion of medical bills and lost wages. Unfortunately, about a quarter of drivers in Florida aren’t properly insured. In that case, if the pedestrian has their own PIP coverage, they can probably still use it – even if they weren’t behind the wheel of the car, so long as they were struck by a motor vehicle.
- Serious injury claims for bodily injury liability. Injuries sustained by pedestrians are often quite serious, meeting or exceeding the serious injury threshold required under Florida law to sidestep the state’s no-fault insurance rule and pursue a claim for damages against the at-fault driver for bodily injury liability coverage. The owner of the vehicle (if someone other than the driver) may be held vicariously liable for the driver’s negligent actions.
- Third-party liability claims. Sometimes, it’s not just the driver who is at-fault. If the driver was drunk and underage, you may have grounds for a dram shop liability lawsuit against the person or bar who served alcohol to that driver. You may have a claim against the company that employed the driver, if he/she was working at the time of the crash. Sometimes government agencies can be sued for failure to address a dangerous intersection that had a number of serious safety flaws that had led to prior accidents.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. UM/UIM coverage may be paid to a pedestrian if that individual is covered under a UM/UIM policy – even though they weren’t driving at the time of the accident. UM/UIM kicks in when a pedestrian is injured or killed by a driver who does not have insurance, does not have enough insurance to fully compensate for the losses sustained, or who is not identified because it was a hit-and-run (a very troubling – yet common – issue in Florida pedestrian accident cases).’
There may be other potential means of compensation as well, depending on the specific facts of the case. Some types of claims have tight deadlines for filing/making a case. It’s important to discuss the details with an injury/wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Broward County pedestrian accident, we can help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.