If you live in a city, which most of us do, you understand the headache of the daily traffic routine. Most people appreciate the basic rules of the road, but not all people truly recognize that they have a duty to pedestrians as well as other vehicles. Drivers have a duty to take proper precautions towards pedestrians crossing the road in crosswalks and, in some instances, parts of the roads that do not have crosswalks available. Pedestrians have the right to travel safely across roadways just as much as drivers. West's F. S. A. § 316.185; § 316.130.
WHO IS TO BLAME WHEN A PEDESTRIAN INJURY OCCURS?
The answer to this question is not as cut and dry as one may think. Like most legal issues, it depends on the circumstances. In general, the driver and the person crossing the road both have a duty to be equally cautious when entering heavily trafficked areas. West's F.S.A. § 316.185. You also have a duty to alter your actions according to any possible unsafe conditions to yourself and other people on the road: this means pedestrians too. If one party fails to take proper precautions, or does not take due care to avoid an accident, that person could be liable for any injury that takes place. FL ST § 316.075
WHAT ARE THE INTERSECTION RULES?
If you pull up to a stoplight, the law requires you to come to a complete stop before the crosswalk. This includes those right turns on red lights. Some people just check the traffic and make that right turn as long as no cars are coming their way. Not so fast! There could be people on your right hand side with a signal to cross the road.
Drivers must also come to a complete stop before the crosswalk, and allow any people to cross the intersection when the persons have a signal to cross. Clearly, if a person is already in the crosswalk when you come upon the traffic signal, you must yield to the pedestrian.
Furthermore, if crosswalks are present, pedestrian must use the crosswalks and crosswalk signals to cross traffic. FL ST § 316.130
WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE CROSSING OUTSIDE OF A CROSSWALK?
People crossing a road at a section of the road without a crosswalk are not allowed to quickly enter the road without warning. Additionally, pedestrians entering the roadway at areas not marked as crosswalk zones must yield to all vehicles. You also may be breaking the law depending on your local jay-walking statute.
With all that being said, drivers cannot simply ignore people entering the road at areas of the road where crosswalks are not present. Anyone on the road has a duty to take proper care to pedestrians entering the traffic. A driver needs to be cautious of any people entering traffic at all times, and they must take proper precautions to avoid injury pedestrians. If someone does not take due care while operating a vehicle and a pedestrian is injured, the driver could still be liable even if the person was crossing the road at area not marked with a crosswalk. FL ST § 316.130; FL ST § 316.185
HOW COMMON ARE PEDESTRIAN RELATED INJURIES?
The elderly and children are most likely the victims in pedestrian accidents. Moreover, pedestrians are far less likely to be injured at a crosswalk location rather than a location where no crosswalk is present. Statistically-speaking, using a crosswalk is the safest mode for crossing a street. The following statistics are courtesy of the NHTSA and the CDC:
- Nearly 4,200 pedestrians a year are killed in traffic accidents.
- Senior citizens accounted for nearly 20% of pedestrian deaths.
- Children under the age of 15 years old made up nearly 23% of all pedestrian traffic injuries.
- Males are more likely to be killed in pedestrian accidents.
- Roads without the availability of crosswalks accounted for 42% of all pedestrian deaths.
- Florida, Texas, and California have the highest percentages of pedestrian fatalities.
- More pedestrian are killed in accidents on January 1st than any other day of the year.
- The deadliest cities for pedestrians are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, and Houston.
CONTACT TAMPA BAY AREA PERSONAL INJURY AND CIVIL TRIAL FIRM DOLMAN LAW GROUP
Sometimes it is not really all clear who is blameworthy when pedestrians are injured. Drivers and pedestrians both have a duty to take proper precautions so that they do not put others in dangers way. Furthermore, just because you were the one who injured someone else does not necessarily mean you are liable for the injury and vice versa.
Due to the fact that liability is sometimes unclear, it is imperative you contact an experienced personal injury attorney. If you, or someone you know, have been injured in a pedestrian-related accident, you should consult with a law firm with experience handling accident, personal injury claims. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney will increase the likelihood that you, the victim, collect the maximum award for your injuries, pain and suffering, or future loss of income.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765