Traveling along the highway or other roadway as a pedestrian can be potentially dangerous. When pedestrians and motorists share the road, the opportunity always exists for accidents to occur. Whether the driver of a vehicle becomes distracted or is under the influence and a pedestrian becomes a victim through no fault of their own, a tragic situation can be the result.
In 2019 Florida was one of the five states that accounted for 47% of all pedestrian deaths in the country for the first six months because of car accidents, even though these states only comprised 33% of the nation's population. According to a 2019 report from the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA), from January to June, Florida was second in the nation (only California recorded more deaths) in terms of pedestrian fatalities due to road crashes.
This highlights the extreme danger posed to individuals walking alongside the roads in Florida. Below we will highlight some of the risk factors and preventive measures associated with pedestrian accidents so you can safeguard yourself against this all too common occurrence.
Pedestrian Accidents in West Palm Beach
When a law-abiding citizen is struck by a car, there may be several causes for the accident, including the driver being under the influence, distracted driving, running a red light or a stop sign, or making a right turn without looking.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2017 a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes due to a car accident. Unfortunately, these are horrible statistics that tell only part of the story because not all pedestrians involved in accidents are killed. Many who survive are left with devastating consequences, including broken bones and brain injuries, which require hospitalization and surgery, and sometimes result in life-long effects.
Although driving has gotten safer over the years with high tech automotive innovations, resulting in fewer vehicle occupant deaths due to crashes, the number of pedestrian deaths is increasing. One reason is the design of streets that are not always constructed with pedestrians in mind. More often, our roads and highways are built to allow for increased drivers' speed rather than pedestrians' safety.
As noted above, Florida is especially hazardous when it comes to pedestrian fatalities. A 2019 Smart Growth America report designated Florida as the most dangerous place to walk. Furthermore, eight of the top ten most dangerous metro areas for walking in the United States were all located in Florida, including the West Palm Beach metro area.
When it comes to staying safe on the roads in West Palm Beach, both pedestrians and drivers have a responsibility. Becoming educated on the risk factors involved in pedestrian crashes can help to reduce injury and death.
- Alcohol Impairment – In crashes where a pedestrian was killed, 47% of the time, alcohol use was involved for the pedestrian, driver, or both.
- Older Adults & Children – Persons 65 and over comprised 20% of all pedestrian deaths and 10% of all pedestrian injuries in 2017. Additionally, in 2017 one in five children under age 15 killed in car accidents were pedestrians.
- Speeding – High vehicle speed increases the possibility that a pedestrian will be hit and results in more severe injuries.
- Nighttime Hours – Most pedestrian deaths occur at nighttime at non-intersections in urban areas.
Consequences of Pedestrian Accidents
As previously mentioned, deaths are not the only consequence of accidents where pedestrians are involved. When a pedestrian is walking on the side of the road, there is no barrier between the individual and an out of control vehicle. Some injuries that these unfortunate persons experience are:
- Broken bones
- Brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Spine injuries
There are also the additional effects brought on by long-term care and pain and suffering. Filing suit against the negligent party can help ease the financial, emotional, and physical burdens that you may face as a victim.
Preventing Pedestrian Accidents in West Palm Beach
At some point or another, we are all likely to be pedestrians, whether we are taking a walk in the neighborhood, crossing a busy highway, or going from the supermarket to the car. Being an alert and educated pedestrian can reduce the chances of being involved in an accident. Here are some tips to stay safe as a pedestrian:
- Follow all traffic signs and signals.
- Always walk on the sidewalk, when available. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and stay as far from traffic as possible.
- Don't allow yourself to be distracted by electronic devices.
- Always cross the street at designated crosswalks or intersections, if available, and always look both ways before crossing. If there is no crosswalk or intersection, cross the road at a well-lit area where you can see traffic flow. Continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Do not assume the driver sees you. Make eye contact with a driver to make sure you are seen.
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night to increase your visibility to drivers. Use a flashlight at night.
- Be vigilant around driveways and in parking lots for drivers backing out or pulling in.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs when walking.
Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney After a Pedestrian Accident
If you were a pedestrian who was hit by a driver and you sustained injuries, you may not know your rights or where to turn. A qualified personal injury attorney will explain your rights to you and fight for the compensation you are due.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
An attorney will gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case. This process involves work done in and outside of the courtroom. By talking to witnesses, taking statements, evaluating the accident scene, and reviewing video evidence, the attorney will analyze the facts to enable him to demonstrate what actually happened.
If you have been injured, you may not be aware of your rights. However, a knowledgeable attorney can explain how certain details may affect the outcome of your case.
- You may qualify for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits (either through your insurance company, if you had insurance, or through the driver's insurance company).
- In Florida, drivers are generally only required to carry $10,000 in PIP. This amount may not be enough to cover your medical expenses. An experienced attorney can negotiate with the insurance company, often retaining a higher payment on your behalf.
- If you were hit by a vehicle and it wasn't your fault, you may qualify for benefits from your insurance company under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Due to your injuries, you may not have had the opportunity to speak with the police about what happened. However, it is essential that you talk with the authorities as soon as possible after the accident (before the police report is filed) to give them your perspective on the incident.
- If you were jaywalking or distracted, you might still be entitled to compensation from the driver.
Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer in West Palm Beach
Being struck by a vehicle is a traumatic, often life-changing experience. The Law Office of Michael C. George is here to help you through this difficult time so that you don't have to feel intimidated by insurance companies or be misled by incorrect information. Enlist the services of an attorney with a proven track record in securing victims the damages they deserve. Please contact the Law Office of Michael C. George today and let him and his team advocate on your behalf.
Call (800) 787-6445 to ask how we can help.