Pedestrian accident deaths in the U.S. are at their highest level in decades – and Florida ranks No. 1 nationally.
The simple act of going to work on foot, walking your dog or enjoying an after-dinner stroll is increasingly a risk to your safety in the Sunshine State. The Governors Highway Safety Administration reported more pedestrian accident deaths in 2018 than in the last 30 years. With nearly 6,230 pedestrians killed that year, it was 4 percent more than the year before and higher than it’s been since 1990.
In fact, as our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys can explain, while motor vehicle deaths have been steadily falling over the last year, pedestrian accident fatalities have spiked by 35 percent.
Why Pedestrians are at Greater Risk
Part of the reason pedestrians are at greater risk on our roads has to do with physiology. There are more large trucks on the road, and an increasing number of drivers are opting for larger vehicles, like sport utility vehicles. These are far more likely to kill a pedestrian than smaller, more compact cars simply due to the size and weight differential.
In the last five years, the number of pedestrian deaths involving an SUV increased by 50 percent.
That doesn’t fully explain the problem, though, because fatal pedestrian accident deaths involving passenger cars increased by 30 percent during this same time frame. Passenger cars still make up the majority of vehicles involved in all pedestrian crashes.
Likely the bigger problem has to do with driver distraction, facilitated in particular with motorists fiddling with their phones. Just recently in Kansas, NBC News reported a beloved, 88-year-old crossing guard was killed while saving the lives of two young children by preventing them from crossing the street as a distracted driver barreled through the crosswalk without braking.
Although it’s tough to come by reliable statistics on the number of pedestrian accidents caused by distracted drivers, we do know that drivers using cell phones are 2-6 times more likely to crash compared to those who aren’t distracted. An aggregate analysis of 28 distracted driver studies reveals that typing or reading text messages:
- Significantly slows a driver’s reaction time;
- Increases lane deviations;
- Increases the length of time drivers looked away from the roadway.
In Florida, NPR reports that local distracted drivers – not tourists – are to blame for the majority of crashes.
Filing a Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to any type of car accident. That means one must first collect from their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy, as outlined in F.S. 627.736. Injured pedestrians can seek coverage through their own PIP policy, which is required of all registered drivers in the state. This provides up to $10,000 in coverage for medical expenses and lost wages/disability. You can pursue this regardless of who was at-fault. PIP extends coverage to anyone listed on the policy AND any relatives of the insured who live in the same household.
However, pedestrians aren’t required to carry insurance the way drivers are, and $10,000 tends not to go very far.
In that case, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, but you’ll have to prove negligence. These claims may be paid out through the driver’s bodily injury liability policy. If that driver does not have insurance OR if that insurance policy doesn’t provide enough to fully compensate you for your injuries, you can pursue a claim with your own uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier.
In some instances, there could be grounds for a third-party liability claim. For example, if the driver was drunk and underage, you may be able to file a claim against whichever establishment furnished the alcohol under Florida’s dram shop laws.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a Florida pedestrian accident, we can help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Why Pedestrian Deaths Are At A 30-Year High, March 28, 2019, By Sea Stachura, Morning Edition, NPR