A Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Fighting for Victims
As pedestrians, there is little protecting us from any number of hazards. One such hazard is posed by a careless driver. Injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident can be severe and even life-threatening, requiring extensive rehabilitation and sometimes permanent alterations to the victim’s lifestyle. Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer Michael K. Grife is dedicated to making sure that people responsible for such injuries are held accountable. Mr. Grife aggressively protects the rights of his clients, pursuing the compensation that they deserve.
Establishing Liability for Florida Pedestrian Accidents
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported that in 2012, over 7,000 pedestrians were injured in car accidents, and approximately 500 pedestrians are killed in these collisions annually. Some of the most devastating pedestrian accidents happen at night, since visibility is less keen, and there are more impaired or fatigued drivers on the road. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to damages through a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim.
Various factors can contribute to a car crash involving a pedestrian, from a speeding vehicle to a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many of these factors can indicate a driver’s negligence in causing a collision. To establish that a defendant was negligent, an injured pedestrian, or plaintiff, must show the following elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act as a reasonable and prudent person would have acted under similar circumstances;
- That duty was breached by the defendant;
- The breach was a proximate cause of the pedestrian’s injuries; and
- Damages resulted that are reasonably quantifiable.
All drivers owe other users of the road, including pedestrians, a duty of reasonable care. When a driver strikes a pedestrian because he or she runs a light, fails to yield the right of way, or is distracted by a phone, he or she likely would be found negligent. Other parties may also be held responsible for a driver’s negligence. For instance, a truck driver’s employer may be vicariously liable for damages if the trucker was acting within his or her scope of employment at the time of the accident.
Once negligence is proven, a victim can potentially recover damages for past and future medical costs lost income and earning capacity, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and any other costs or losses that may have occurred. In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is four years from the date of an accident, whereas wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years from the date of the victim’s death. Given the time-sensitive nature of these cases, consulting a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible is important to make sure proper action is taken.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Most pedestrian accidents are caused by negligence on the part of the driver. Some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents include the following:
- Reckless driving
- Running stop signs or stop lights
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while drowsy
Driving while using a smartphone is especially dangerous for pedestrians in that it causes the driver to take their eyes off the road and take at least one hand off the wheel. Whatever the cause of your accident may be, you may be entitled to compensation if you can prove that it was caused by the driver’s negligence. A Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer can help you prove your claim so that you can get the compensation you need.
Auto Insurance and Pedestrian Accidents in Florida
Generally speaking, auto insurance covers pedestrian accidents in Florida. If the driver who hit you has liability coverage, a Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer can help you file a claim under his or her policy. If you have auto insurance, your lawyer may be able to help you file a claim with your insurance company as well.
What if you aren’t insured, and what if the driver who hit you doesn’t have liability coverage under his or her auto insurance policy? Even in this scenario, you may still have options available. For example, depending on how, where and why the accident happened, a Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer may be able to help you file a claim against:
- The driver’s employer or rideshare company (if the driver was working at the time of the accident);
- A state or local government agency (if an issue with the road, crosswalk, sidewalk or traffic controls played a role in the accident) and/or
- The driver’s vehicle manufacturer or repair shop (if a brake defect or other vehicle-related issue caused the driver to lose control).
Even these are just examples. If you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important that you explore all options for recovering your injury-related losses. Our lawyers can help, but it is important that you contact us as soon as possible.
What To Do After a Pedestrian Accident in Boca Raton
Regardless of the claim (or claims) you can file for your pedestrian accident in Boca Raton, there are some steps that you should take promptly to help protect your legal rights. For example, to maximize your chances of a full financial recovery, you should:
1. See a Doctor Right Away
You should see a doctor as soon after your accident as possible. Explain to your doctor that you were injured in a pedestrian accident, and describe your pain and other symptoms with as much detail as possible. Make sure you understand your diagnosis, and schedule your next appointment during your initial visit, if possible.
2. Take Detailed Notes
You should also take detailed notes about the accident as soon as you are able to do so. Write down everything you can remember, from which direction the vehicle was traveling to whether anyone witnessed the collision. No detail is too small—and the more information you can share with your Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer, the better.
3. Keep Everything You Have from the Accident
If you have damaged clothing or personal items from the accident, keep them—do not throw them out. Likewise, if you (or anyone else) called 911 and received a copy of the police report, keep this in a safe place until you can give it to your lawyer. If you have the driver’s vehicle and insurance information or contact information for any witnesses, you will want to be sure to keep these to give to your lawyer as well.
4. Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
You should follow your doctor’s advice throughout your recovery (unless you think a second opinion is necessary). This means going to physical therapy if this is what your doctor prescribes, and it means staying home from work if this is what your doctor says is necessary. Not only is this important for your physical recovery, but it can be extremely important for your financial recovery as well.
5. Talk to a Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
To recover the financial compensation you deserve, you will need an experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer on your side. With this in mind, you should arrange a free initial consultation as soon as possible. Our firm handles pedestrian accident cases throughout South Florida, and we do not charge our clients anything out of pocket.
What Not To Do After a Pedestrian Accident in Boca Raton
Along with taking these steps to protect your legal rights, there are also some mistakes you will want to try to avoid. For example, if you are entitled to financial compensation for your pedestrian accident in Boca Raton:
1. Do Not Accept the Driver’s Offer to Pay Your Medical Bills
You should not accept an offer from the driver to pay your medical bills. Not only could your medical bills represent just a small fraction of your losses, but there is also a good chance that you won’t see a dime. To protect yourself, you need to file a formal claim.
2. Do Not Let the Insurance Companies Tell You What to Do
If you contact the insurance companies on your own, you should not let them tell you what to do. They do not have your best interests in mind. If you rely on the insurance companies’ advice, at best you will receive just a small fraction of the total compensation you deserve.
3. Do Not Assume All Hope is Lost
While dealing with the aftermath of a pedestrian accident can be challenging, you should not assume that all hope is lost. In fact, you should not make any assumptions about your legal rights. As we discussed above, you have options available, and an experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer can help you pursue all available sources of financial recovery.
4. Do Not Delay in Seeking Help
To give yourself the best chance of recovering the financial compensation you deserve, you should take action promptly. Get treatment for your injuries from a doctor, talk to a lawyer about your legal rights, and then rely on these professionals’ advice to avoid costly mistakes as you move forward.
5. Do Not Try to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
Due to the challenges (and risks) involved, you should not try to handle your situation on your own. The outcome of your pedestrian accident case could impact your life for years to come. You need to make sure you are making informed decisions, and this means relying on the advice and representation of an experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer.
Our Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Attorneys Outline Florida’s Laws
In order to understand your rights in the event of an accident, it is perhaps helpful to review the laws governing pedestrians on public roadways. Florida law states the following:
- Drivers must stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk
- Pedestrians may walk in the road if there are no sidewalks
- Pedestrians are obligated to obey traffic signals when present
- Pedestrians are obligated to use sidewalks when they are available
- Pedestrians must yield to vehicular traffic in the crosswalks
- Pedestrians must use crosswalks with traffic signals when they are present
- Drivers have a legal obligation to use due care and avoid accidents with a pedestrian
Accidents involving a pedestrian who is struck while legally crossing in a crosswalk are perhaps the most straightforward, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a claim if you were injured in some other scenario. Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that you may be entitled to compensation even if you were partly at fault in causing the accident. As a result, you should contact a Boca Raton pedestrian accident attorney even if you were not crossing at a crosswalk.
“Don’t Walk” Accidents
We have all crossed the street when the “don’t walk” signal is illuminated. Even though it may appear safe, pedestrians are at risk of being struck by drivers who are distracted or otherwise not paying attention. Even though you may have been crossing against the light, drivers are still obligated to use due care and avoid an accident. As a result, you may still be entitled to compensation even if you were in the crosswalk when the “don’t walk” sign was lit.
“Jaywalking” isn’t necessarily against the law in every case – pedestrians are allowed to cross the street when there are no crosswalks available. And similar to “don’t walk” accidents, jaywalking does not relieve a driver of their responsibility to avoid an accident with a pedestrian. If you were struck by a car or truck while crossing the road, you should discuss your options with a Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer.
Accidents Resulting from Falling into the Roadway
In some cases, the pedestrian was struck when they slipped or tripped and fell into the roadway. This can raise a number of questions – whether the driver could have avoided the accident or whether the property owner is at fault for not maintaining the sidewalk.
Stepping Out into Traffic
Some accidents occur when the pedestrian steps out into traffic, often because they need to step out in order to see whether there is any oncoming traffic. Again, this raises questions as to whether the driver could have avoided the accident or whether the property owner is at fault for not providing a clear view of the road.
Accidents Involving Children
Children lack the experience and judgment to avoid hazards that are obvious to adults. Drivers who fail to exercise additional caution in residential areas or school zones may be held liable for any accidents that occur.
The bottom line in all of these scenarios is that you may be entitled to compensation even if you may not have clearly had the right of way. Before making any decisions about your case, we recommend that you speak with a Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer.
Pedestrian Crosswalk Injury Lawyers Based in Boca Raton
Boca Raton and other South Florida cities have both marked and unmarked crosswalks. Marked crosswalks are those in which lines have been painted to signify the boundaries of the crosswalk for pedestrians. Often, there is a walk signal at those intersections. Pedestrians hit in a crosswalk receive special protections under Florida law. However, when there is an intersection that does not have those painted lines, this is an unmarked crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks are part of the roadway. If you are injured in a crosswalk accident, you should consult an experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer at The Grife Law Firm. We can help you assert your right to compensation.
What is a Crosswalk?
Under Florida Statute section 316.003, a crosswalk is defined as the portion of a road at an intersection that is part of the links of lateral sidewalk lines on each side of the road. It is measured from curb to curb or, if there is no curb, from the fringes of the part of the roadway that can be crossed. A crosswalk is also any part of a road at an intersection or somewhere else that is clearly indicated for pedestrian crossing by markings or lines on the surface.
Regardless of whether the crosswalk is marked, Florida drivers should be careful not to hit a pedestrian. While a driver is protected during this type of accident, a pedestrian may be catastrophically or fatally injured.
Liability for Crosswalk Accidents
To establish liability for a crosswalk accident, your lawyer will need to show that the driver owed you a duty of care to drive safely, but their unsafe driving breached the duty of care and caused your injuries. A driver who fails to yield to a pedestrian who has the right of way in a crosswalk is likely to be found to have breached the duty of care.
Florida Statute section 316.130(15) provides that every driver is supposed to use due care to keep from hitting a pedestrian or a person riding a human-powered vehicle. They should warn a pedestrian when it is necessary to do so and should use appropriate precautions if there is a child pedestrian or an obviously drunk or confused person.
At an intersection controlled by a traffic signal, a driver should stop before coming into a crosswalk and stay stopped to permit a pedestrian who has a positive signal to cross when the pedestrian is in a crosswalk or stepping into a crosswalk and is on the half of the crosswalk where the car is traveling. The driver is also supposed to stop before a crosswalk if the pedestrian is closely approaching from the other half of the roadway, such that they are so close that they are at risk.
The same law provides that if a car is stopped at a marked crosswalk or even an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection in order to yield to a pedestrian, others on the road who approach behind the stopped car are not supposed to try to overtake and pass the stopped car.
If a driver fails to abide by this statute, it would be strongly indicative of his or her negligence. However, it would not be conclusive. After an accident causing injuries, it is important to have the police come to the scene. If they cite the driver for a traffic violation, such as not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, this may be helpful to the pedestrian’s personal injury case.
However, also under section 316.130, pedestrians have an obligation not to leave the curb or another safe place and walk or run into the path of a car that is so close that the driver is unable to yield. When there are adjacent intersections with traffic signals, pedestrians are only allowed to cross at a marked crosswalk.
A defendant is likely to argue that you were negligent if you fail to abide by the obligation not to dart out into the path of an oncoming car. Florida follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. In a crosswalk accident case, this means that the jury will evaluate the facts and assign percentages of fault to both the driver and the pedestrian. The pedestrian’s damages will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault. For example, if a victim suffered a traumatic brain injury and incurred $800,000 in damages, but they were 50 percent at fault, they would be able to recover $400,000.
A Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you are entitled to be made whole. This means that you may be entitled to compensation that includes the following:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Any lost wages or other income
- Your pain and suffering
Most non-lawyers settle their claims for far less than they are worth, only to later discover that they have losses they will be unable to recover. A Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life.
Our Attorneys Answering Your Most Common Pedestrian Accident Questions
What can I do if the driver fled the scene?
While these cases pose obvious challenges, all hope is not lost. An experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer can help you locate the driver or evaluate other options in order to pursue your claim. They can handle the leg work so that you can focus on your recovery.
The driver’s insurance company said that the accident was my fault. Do I still have a claim?
Insurance companies are quick to deny claims in order to avoid paying. However, the fact that they have denied liability does not mean that you do not have a claim. As discussed above, drivers have a legal obligation to avoid accidents with a pedestrian. An attorney can advocate for you and make sure that you get whatever compensation you are entitled to.
What if the driver wasn’t at fault?
You may have a claim against some other party even if the driver couldn’t avoid the accident. You may have a claim against the government or other property owner for failing to maintain a clear view of the road, or perhaps the traffic signals were malfunctioning. At a minimum, you should discuss your case with an experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident lawyer. They can investigate your case and identify whatever other options you may have.
Discuss Your Claim With a Top Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer at The Grife Law Firm
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, the team at The Grife Law Firm can help you determine your course of action. Mr. Grife assists injured individuals in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, and other cities throughout South Florida. Contact us online or call us to schedule a free initial consultation to explore your legal options.
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