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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Florida is One of the Deadliest States for Pedestrians—But What if Both the Driver and Pedestrian are at Fault in an Accident?

With sunny skies and beautiful scenery, Florida’s natural environment invites both residents and visitors alike to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Unfortunately, when it comes to exploring the state on foot, pedestrians are at a higher-than-average risk of being hit by a car. Florida has been ranked as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians, and had the second highest pedestrian fatality rate according to a 2019 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Accidents involving a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle are tragic, often resulting in death or severe injuries. However, in some cases, the driver is not the only one at fault—the pedestrian may have contributed to causing the accident due to how, where, or when they were walking. If a lawsuit arises from these situations, it can be difficult to determine which party is liable, and the answer will depend on the particular circumstances in question. These cases are typically determined by a few general principles:

Right-of-way laws and duty of care

Under Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control Law, there are various rules governing who has the right of way in different situations. For instance, when a pedestrian is crossing the street at a crosswalk, vehicles are generally required to yield to them. When crossing outside of a crosswalk, pedestrians are supposed to yield to vehicles.

While these right-of-way laws can offer a guide in determining who was at fault when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle an overarching principle comes into play: from pedestrians to bicyclists to cars and more, all parties are legally required to exercise due care when using Florida’s roadways. This essentially means acting responsibly and using caution to avoid a collision, even if that requires the driver or pedestrian to surrender their right of way.

Many times a pedestrian may do something that contributes to the accident, for example crossing where there is no crosswalk.  But skilled trial lawyers handling auto-pedestrian cases in many circumstances can discover and prove that it may have actually been reasonable for the pedestrian to cross there either because there was no nearby crosswalk or that it would have been more dangerous to use that particular crosswalk.  Even if it was a mistake to cross where they did, attorneys may be able to prove that the driver was distracted, speeding or had an obstructed view.  This is why it is important to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer quickly, before the evidence disappears.

Comparative negligence

In a lawsuit where both parties have some fault, Florida’s pure comparative negligence standard will apply. Under this rule, the damages that a party may receive will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them. For example, if it is determined that a pedestrian is entitled to recover $100,000 in damages after being hit by a car, but the pedestrian is also found to have been 20% at fault in causing the accident, the pedestrian would recover $80,000. Apportioning fault between the parties is a question for the jury.

If you or a loved one has been struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian in Florida, it’s important to know that you may be entitled to recover damages, even if you may have had some fault in causing the accident. At Leighton Law we have extensive experience representing pedestrians and other car accident, motorcycle and bicycle victims, and we can guide you through the process of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit if warranted by the circumstances of your case. Call us today at 888.988.1774 to schedule a consultation!

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