Media reports of car accidents often focus on splashy details. In the midst of celebrity accidents, drunk driving, cars crashing into buildings, and other dramatic incidents, it can be easy to forget that pedestrians are struck with alarming frequency.
Pedestrian accidents can occur in crosswalks, on sidewalks, in traffic lanes, or anywhere else where vehicles and walkers mix. Smart phones and in-vehicle technology (such as navigation, entertainment, and information systems) have only made the roads of Seminole County more dangerous for pedestrians. Drivers should be aware of their legal obligations with respect to pedestrians in the roadway.
Florida Law Gives Pedestrians the Right of Way
The Florida Statutes give specific guidance for pedestrians’ use of public roadways. Section 316.130 requires pedestrians to obey traffic signals and stay out of vehicle lanes (except where no sidewalks exist). Other than this, however, pedestrians are generally granted the right-of-way in crosswalks. They are prohibited from running toward a vehicle in a manner which makes it impossible for the driver to yield the right-of-way, and they must yield the right-of-way when crossing outside of a designated crosswalk.
What many drivers do not understand is that they can face legal responsibility for an accident even if a pedestrian is not crossing in a crosswalk. While the driver may have had the right-of-way, a jury could still find the driver partially or wholly liable for failing to see the pedestrian and not stopping in time. This is compared to the standard of a reasonably prudent driver. If a reasonable driver would have seen the pedestrian and stopped in time, then a driver who fails to do so is liable for any accident that happens as a result.
Driver Liability for Pedestrian Accidents
Drivers can also be held liable for traffic offenses and crimes that occur in conjunction with a pedestrian accident. Crimes such as impaired driving, leaving the scene of an accident, or reckless driving can be charged and prosecuted separately from any civil case that arises as a result of the accident. Traffic offenses (such as failure to yield the right-of-way or running a red light) are also separate from civil determinations of liability.
Our auto accident attorneys have seen and litigated serious pedestrian injuries in Seminole County. Unlike motorists, pedestrians don't have the protection of seat belts and air bags, which makes them more susceptible to injuries in an accident. Serious injury, paralysis, and even death can occur as a result of injuries sustained in a pedestrian auto accident.