The number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicle drivers nationwide increased by an astounding 45 percent over the last decade.
When it comes to pedestrian safety, not all places are created equal.
A recent report from the advocacy group Smart Growth America concluded that 7 out of the 10 most dangerous cities for pedestrians are in Florida.
Causes of pedestrian accidents
Most pedestrian accidents are the result of inattentiveness on the part of the pedestrian or a motor vehicle driver.
Experts believe the rise in pedestrian accidents is due largely to the fact that more motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians are looking at their smartphones when they should be watching the road.
Florida Statute Section 316.305 prohibits drivers from texting, emailing or instant messaging while operating a vehicle. Drivers are also prohibited from talking on a handheld cell phone in a school or work zone under Florida Statute Section 316.306.
Other factors that regularly contribute to pedestrian accidents include:
- High vehicle speeds
- Lighting inadequacies
- Poor weather
- Lack of traffic calming measures (speed bumps, on-street parking, narrow streets, etc.)
- Alcohol or drug use
Who is most at risk for pedestrian accidents?
The risk of being struck by a car is not evenly distributed.
The following groups are more at risk of being struck by a car while walking:
- Older adults
- People of color
- People in low-income communities
To understand just how dramatic the risks can be for these groups, consider the following statistics:
- From 2010 to 2019, Black people were struck and killed by drivers at an 82 percent higher rate than white people.
- From 2010 to 2019, American Indian and Alaska Native people were struck and killed by drivers at a 221 percent higher rate than white people.
- People walking in lower-income neighborhoods die at nearly 3 times the rate of those in well-to-do neighborhoods.
The above statistics hold true even after controlling for differences in population size and walking rates.
The deadliest cities for pedestrians
Smart Growth America ranked the most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians throughout the country using a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), which takes a number of factors into account and controls for the population and the number of people who regularly walk.
Here are their findings for the 20 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the U.S. As you can see, Florida is well represented.
Smart Growth America ranked Florida the most dangerous state in the entire country for pedestrians.
Between 2010 and 2019, there were 5,893 pedestrian deaths in Florida (2.8 deaths per 100,000 people).
For the sake of comparison, the 2nd most dangerous state (Alabama) had 936 pedestrian fatalities between 2010 and 2019 (1.9 deaths per 100,00 people).
Legal options for pedestrians to recover damages
To recover damages following a pedestrian accident in Florida, you must generally prove that someone else was at fault for your accident.
Parties who might be at fault for a pedestrian accident include:
- Motor vehicle drivers. Motor vehicle drivers have a duty to obey all traffic laws and exercise reasonable care when navigating Florida’s roads. A motor vehicle driver might be at fault for a pedestrian accident if they violate a traffic law or otherwise fail to exercise reasonable care.
- Bicyclists. Bicyclists also have a duty to obey all traffic laws and exercise reasonable care when navigating Florida’s roads. A bicyclist might be at fault for a pedestrian accident if they violate a traffic law or fail to exercise reasonable care.
- Property owners. Under Florida’s premises liability laws, property owners typically have a duty to keep their properties in a safe condition. A property owner (often a local municipality) might be at fault for a pedestrian accident if they fail to keep their property in a safe condition by, for example, failing to fix an obstructed traffic signal.
In most pedestrian accident cases, proving fault means proving that the defendant was negligent. In Florida, negligence is proved by establishing the following 3 elements:
- The defendant owed the pedestrian a duty to exercise reasonable care,
- The defendant breached the duty to exercise reasonable care, and
- The defendant’s breach caused the pedestrian’s injury.
In addition to filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party, you may be able to file an insurance claim under your own health and disability insurance policies.
If the pedestrian accident occurred while you were on the job, your injuries might be covered under a workers’ compensation policy. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, you don’t need to prove fault to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
5 steps to take following a pedestrian accident
It’s never too early to start thinking about a potential lawsuit or insurance claim following a pedestrian accident. With that in mind, here are 5 steps to take to increase your chances of recovery:
- Step 1: Get medical treatment. It’s important to get the care you need, but it’s also important to start creating a record that can be used to support a lawsuit down the road. Insurance companies and jurors are skeptical of plaintiffs who wait a long time to visit a doctor following a pedestrian accident.
- Step 2: Call the police. The police can conduct a brief investigation and draft a police report that may help support your insurance or legal claim.
- Step 3: Collect contact information. Collect the contact information of anyone involved in the accident. If a driver was involved in the accident, be sure to get their insurance information as well.
- Step 4: Gather evidence. Collect the contact information of any witnesses at the scene. It’s also a good idea to take photographs or videos of the accident scene, your injuries and any property damage.
- Step 5: Talk to an attorney. Even if you don’t think you have a valuable case, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney. Most initial consultations are free, and cases are typically handled on a contingency basis.