Wrongful Death Pedestrian Accidents

Florida (and South Florida in particular) is one of the deadliest places for pedestrians. We have wide roads, high-speed traffic, narrow (if any) sidewalks and a concentration of at-risk populations, including the elderly, tourists, children and minorities.

Poor road design and urban sprawl is of course a significant part of the problem, but we can’t discount the fact that careless, reckless and negligent motorists too often simply don’t look or care.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our experienced pedestrian accident wrongful death attorneys in Fort Lauderdale are committed to helping loved ones fight for accountability and compensation. Pedestrians have clear legal rights and responsibilities under Florida law (as outlined in F.S. 316.130). When those rights are violated or when motorists fail to use the reasonable care they owe to all road users, we help families obtain the compensation they deserve.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates nearly 5,400 pedestrians are killed annually in the U.S., which breaks down to one pedestrian fatality every 1.6 hours. Pedestrian deaths account for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, and more than one-fifth of those are children. The majority of these incidents involve a single vehicle.

In Florida, pedestrian deaths account for nearly one quarter of all traffic deaths, with a fatality rate of 3.10 per 100,000 people. The national average is 1.67. Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach especially are known to be perilous for pedestrians. This metro area is listed as Smart Growth America’s 11th most dangerous in the nation (seven other Florida metro areas cracked the top 10). That analysis factors in not just the sheer number of those killed, but also population size and the number of commuters.

Pedestrian Death Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Not all pedestrian death compensation claims need to become lawsuits. In some instances, our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys can carefully examine which parties might be liable, file a claim with insurers and settle without litigation. However, while it’s true most injury claims settle before trial, wrongful death cases tend to be a bit more complex because of the profound nature of these losses. Insurance companies aren’t always eager to pay their policy limits, even if they do concede their insured was liable.

No matter who the defendant is (except for workers’ compensation insurers or those against whom we are asserting vicarious liability), we must prove negligence. General provisions of Florida Negligence Law are found in Chapter 768 of Florida Statutes. Elements of any negligence case are:

  • Duty of care. In most Florida pedestrian accident cases, this involves the duty of the motorist to use reasonable care when operating a vehicle on the roadway. Some pedestrian wrongful death cases are against property owners, making it a premises liability claim which requires evidence the property owner had a duty of care to decedent to address any unreasonably dangerous conditions on site. This could be a store owner who had a duty to create a safe walking path for customers or a municipality that had a duty to fix problems at a dangerous intersection.
  • Breach of duty. If the driver/ business owner/ municipality did not use reasonable care toward decedent, that can establish breach of duty.
  • Causation. We must show that the breach of duty proximately caused the injury. You may hear the term “but-for,” and this refers to the argument that “but-for” the negligence of the defendant, your loved one would not have suffered serious injury or death.
  • Damages. In a wrongful death case, damages may include medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages and loss of consortium. In some instances (usually drunk driving in the context of pedestrian accidents), you can seek punitive damages, which per F.S. 768.72 are intended to punish the wrongdoer for gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

As previously mentioned, the two primary exceptions to proof of negligence are workers’ compensation and vicarious liability claims. If decedent was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of his or her death, loved ones may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits, per F.S. 440.16, which are provided under a no-fault system. This would allow funeral expenses up to $7,500 and up to $150,000 collectively for all dependents. Meanwhile, vicarious liability claims brought against employers of at-fault parties acting in the course and scope of employment and owners of vehicles driven by at-fault parties need only show negligence by the driver.

Per F.S. 768.20, those who have the right to bring legal action for a wrongful death pedestrian accident include:

  • Decedent’s spouse;
  • Decedent’s children;
  • Parents;
  • Other blood relatives who were dependent on decedent for support.

There may be others, and there are some exceptions, so it’s best to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. F.S. 95.11(7)(4)(d) requires wrongful death lawsuits be filed within two years. Notice of claims against employers or government agencies may need to be filed sooner.

If your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident in Fort Lauderdale, contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.

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