Fatal Pedestrian Accidents
Hundreds of people die in Florida pedestrian accidents every year. We use the term “accident” loosely because most cases involve drivers who failed to use reasonable care in the operation of their motor vehicle. Although the crash wasn’t intentional, the effects may be profound and irreversible.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident lawyers have succeeded in obtaining ample compensation for surviving family members. We work to assess every avenue of causation and potential liability. Although can replace the precious life lost, the goal is to help families regain the financial security they had before their loved one passed.
Sadly, it’s not a unique situation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports in its annual Traffic Safety Facts that nearly 5,400 pedestrians are killed in the U.S. each year. Of those, more than 600 happen in Florida – the most by far of any state. What’s more, the number of pedestrian accident fatalities has been increasing in recent years – rising 10 percent in just a single-year period.
Pedestrian deaths account for 15 percent of all traffic deaths, amounting to one every 1.5 hours.
Within the Dangerous by Design report by Smart Growth America, which ranks the 104 largest metro areas in terms of their Pedestrian Danger Index, seven Florida metro areas cracked the top 10. Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area ranked No. 11.
Study authors in that action report more than 46,000 people were struck and killed by cars while walking between 2005 and 2014. Americans are 7 times more likely to die as a pedestrian than as a victim of a natural disaster. In a country where traffic crashes in general are the No. 2 cause of unintentional injury deaths, pedestrian accidents pose an especially serious threat.
That report puts much of the blame on street engineering and design. Specifically, traffic engineers tend to prioritize speed of motor vehicles over the safety of pedestrians. While unsafe design is certainly one element we explore in these civil cases, such claims can be a challenge as they usually involve naming a government agency as a defendant. Claims against the government may involve more significant hurdles (i.e., shorter notification timelines, asserting waivers of sovereign immunity per F.S. 768.28, etc.), but they certainly aren’t impossible.
Mostly, though, these claims will be against the negligent driver, the auto liability insurer and the uninsured/ underinsured motorist insurer.Wrongful Death Claims in Florida Pedestrian Accidents
When it comes to injury accidents vs. fatal accidents, there are some similarities but also some key differences.
To start, plaintiffs in both types of cases must prove negligence of defendant. That is, they must show:
- Defendant had a duty of care (usually to operate the vehicle in a reasonably safe way);
- Defendant breached that duty (by violation of law or failure to use reasonable care);
- That breach of duty cause the accident which caused the injuries;
- Plaintiff was left with injuries that were compensable.
Beyond this, wrongful death lawsuits are on different deadlines for filing compared to injury lawsuits.
While Florida personal injury lawsuits rooted in negligence must be filed within four years of the “cause of action” (typically the crash date in pedestrian accident cases), wrongful death claims work a bit differently.
Per F.S. 95.11, wrongful death actions must be filed within two years. Keep in mind, this is usually two years from the date of one’s death. If the death occurs on the same day as the crash, it will be two years from that date. However, if the death occurs later, the cause of action won’t start until the date of death.
Another difference is who has the right to file. In an injury lawsuit, it is the injured person and/ or representative who has the right to file a lawsuit, though spouses and sometimes children can file claims for loss of consortium. In wrongful death cases, rightful claimants include:
- The estate (the total of everything decedent owned/ owed during their life, which is left to beneficiaries); Personal representatives are appointed to bring such claims;
- Survivors of decedent (personal representative of estate may bring a claim on behalf of survivors of those who died). Survivors may include decedent’s spouse, decedent’s children (with minor dependents typically entitled to higher damages), decedent’s parents and, in some cases, blood relatives who relied on decedent for support or services.
Some wrongful death claims can take years to resolve, but most are generally settled prior to trial. Working with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help ensure you are justly compensated.
Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer – (954) 761-4011 – Free Consultation