Car accidents are part of the risk that comes with getting in a vehicle, whether you are behind the wheel or in a passenger seat. But people in cars are not the only ones who can be injured in these crashes. Pedestrians are injured in a wide variety of collisions with vehicles every day across the country and around the world. That is particularly true in South Florida, where many people use their own two feet to get from Point A to Point B. A West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer at our firm will take the time to figure out how the crash happened and to fully understand your individual situation and needs.
When these accidents happen, pedestrians often have little time to react and no physical protection from oncoming vehicles. That is why pedestrian accidents often come with serious and even life-threatening injuries.
There is some good news, however: pedestrians injured by negligent drivers have the right to fight back and get compensation for their injuries. At Searcy Denney, we help people and families maximize the money damages available under the law and ensure that those responsible for a crash are held fully responsible. Our attorneys combine decades of experience in these and other accident cases. We are proud of our track record of successful results for the people and families that we represent.
Florida ‘Most Dangerous’ for Pedestrians
Pedestrian accidents are far too common across Florida. The Sunshine State has been deemed the most dangerous in the country for pedestrians. A report by Smart Growth America also listed West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami among the 15 most dangerous metro areas for people on two feet.
Some 10,000 people are injured in pedestrian accidents in Florida each year, with nearly 750 of those people killed. Those numbers have steadily increased over the last decade, according to data compiled by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
There are several reasons why pedestrians are particularly at risk in Florida, including the heavy volume of traffic on roads across the state every day. In addition, pedestrians, bicycle riders, and others not in cars are unfortunately often an afterthought when authorities design, construct, repair, and expand roadways.
Fatal accidents involving pedestrians struck by cars have jumped by more than 50% across the U.S. in the last 10 years, a recent study by AAA shows. The vast majority of the uptick came in accidents involving pedestrians walking in areas not designated for foot traffic and/or after dark.
Additional research shows that sport utility vehicles pose a particular threat to pedestrians. SUVs are more likely than other cars to cause fatalities in accidents, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded.
When accidents happen, pedestrians who are injured – and, in some cases, their families – have the right to seek compensation from those responsible. A West Palm Beach pedestrian accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you understand your rights and explore your options.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in West Palm Beach
Pedestrian accidents can happen in a number of different ways and be caused by a variety of factors. Driver negligence – including distraction, aggressive driving, and getting behind the wheel while intoxicated – is often to blame. However, poor street design and construction, hazardous road conditions, and vehicle defects can also wreak havoc.
A seasoned West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer will tell you that some factors are more common in pedestrian accidents. At Searcy Denney, we commonly see collisions involving pedestrians caused by:
- Distracted, fatigued driving
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Road rage
- Illegal or careless right turns
- Unlawfully parked vehicles
- Poorly lit roadways and sidewalks
- Traffic design errors
- Poor road conditions and hazards posed by work crews
It is crucial to understand what caused the accident in order to determine who is legally responsible. Even in situations where an injured pedestrian is partially to blame for an accident, he or she can often still get some compensation. Florida’s “comparative negligence” system generally awards money damages based on proportionate fault.
West Palm Beach Pedestrian Accident Attorney Explains Insurance Coverage for Pedestrian Accidents
Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to certain car and pedestrian accidents.
The state’s Personal Injury Protection system is designed to quickly resolve these cases by ensuring that injured people get insurance benefits. Unfortunately, the PIP system also often imposes a number of complications and procedural hurdles. It can significantly limit the money damages that a person injured in a pedestrian accident receives.
PIP is called a “no-fault” system because injured people do not have to show that someone else was to blame for an accident in order to get insurance benefits. Florida law requires every driver in the state to carry at least $10,000 in PIP insurance. PIP benefits can be used to pay medical, wage loss, and death benefits related to an accident.
PIP generally makes up to $10,000 in benefits available per accident, an amount that is further reduced in many cases. A West Palm Beach pedestrian accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you understand what your claim is worth.
A person injured in an accident must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the crash in order to be eligible for PIP benefits. The person also must submit various documentation and other evidence to his or her insurer within 35 days of the collision.
Benefits are capped at $2,500 in all cases in which the injured person does not have an “emergency medical condition.” Conditions that rise to the emergency medical level are those in which the person has severe pain or other symptoms and which without medical attention is reasonably expected to cause:
- Serious jeopardy to patient health
- Serious impairment of a bodily function
- Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part
This vague definition of “emergency medical condition” means that an injured pedestrian’s claim could be capped just because a doctor or medical professional does not use the correct terms to describe an injury, diagnosis, or course of treatment.
Additionally, benefits can only be used to pay costs for specific types of medical professionals: doctors, osteopathic physicians, dentists, physician assistants, chiropractors and advanced registered nurse practitioners.
Money Damages for Pedestrian Injuries
In some cases, a pedestrian injured in an accident can get additional compensation by filing a lawsuit. That includes out-of-state visitors who are not covered by PIP and people who suffer certain serious injuries.
A person who is severely injured can get additional money damages, including for pain and suffering, missed wages, and any reduction in the person’s ability to earn a living. In order to avoid the PIP cap, you have to be able to show that you suffered one or more of these kinds of injuries:
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury, within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Proving these kinds of injuries requires detailed medical and other evidence that is presented in the most easy-to-understand and compelling way. A West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer at Searcy Denney will gather all of the available evidence and use it to build the strongest possible case for money damages.
Suing for Wrongful Death with a West Palm Beach Pedestrian Accident Attorney
In the tragic event that a person is killed in a pedestrian accident, his or her family has the right to seek compensation for wrongful death. The law limits these lawsuits to the deceased person’s parents, spouse, and children under the age of 25.
Although nothing can be done to bring your loved one back, the money damages in these cases can offer some financial security in the aftermath of losing a family member. That includes compensation for medical and burial costs, as well as missed income and pain and suffering.
Talk with a West Palm Beach Pedestrian Accident Lawyer for Free Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Florida, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. It is important that you get legal advice before accepting an insurance payout. PIP and other insurers often push low-ball settlements on injured people who may not be fully aware of their legal rights.
A West Palm Beach pedestrian accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help you maximize your compensation. Our track record of successful results includes a $3.5 million settlement for a woman struck by a van, as well as a number of other settlements and verdicts.
Our offices are conveniently located in West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, and Tampa. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer today.