Did you know that Raymond James Stadium can hold over 65 thousand people? The next time there is a Bucs game going on, just take a look around. There will be pedestrians in the road, on the sidewalks, and pretty much everywhere else they can fit. Large numbers of pedestrians crossing the street is a pretty common occurrence in Tampa. Unfortunately, this common occurrence can also result in a pedestrian being struck by a car or truck. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 192 pedestrians were injured in car accidents per day in the United States in 2015, and there were 15 car accident-related pedestrian fatalities per day nationwide during the same time period.
In Hillsborough County, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles has indicated that there were 628 pedestrian crashes throughout the county in 2016, and these accidents resulted in 50 pedestrian fatalities. This means that pedestrians were being killed in car accidents in Hillsborough County at a rate of almost one death per week in 2016. The truly shocking fact is, many of these accidents could have been prevented had it not been for the actions of a careless driver. As such, if you or a family member have been involved a car accident in Tampa as a pedestrian, you should always contact a pedestrian accident attorney who can explain all of your legal options, because someone must be held accountable for the pain that you and your family have endured as a result of a reckless driver.
Florida Pedestrian Accident Laws
Pedestrians are naturally considered to be more vulnerable than motorists, but unfortunately, as many pedestrian accident attorneys will tell you, drivers, insurance companies, and sometimes police officers often a rush to blame the pedestrian for causing the accident! The reason this occurs is that pedestrians, like drivers, can be found to be at fault for having caused an accident, despite the fact that it is often the pedestrian, not the driver, who sustains the majority, if not all, of the injuries as a result. As such, if you decide to hire a pedestrian accident lawyer, there are a few aspects of Florida’s laws regarding pedestrian accidents that you should be aware of prior to your initial consultation.
Florida Comparative Fault Laws
In Florida, both people involved in an accident can be found to have shared responsibility for having caused a car accident to occur. This legal concept is commonly known as comparative negligence, and under Fla.Stat.§768.81, it is referred to as comparative fault. Florida is referred to as a “pure” comparative fault state, because under Fla.Stat.§768.81(2), as long as the defendant is partially responsible for having caused the accident to occur, a finding of comparative fault on the part of the plaintiff will only proportionally reduce the amount of economic and non-economic damages awarded to the plaintiff while not prohibiting the recovery of damages entirely.
If you hire a lawyer, you will more than likely discuss the subject of comparative fault, the effect it could have on your case, and whether or not it applies in your unique scenario. As your pedestrian accident lawyer will explain, the term proportionally, as used Fla.Stat.§768.81(2), ultimately means that a percentage of fault will be assigned to you and the motorist at the conclusion of the case, and any damages you are awarded will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages but you are found to be 50% responsible for having caused the accident to occur, your damage award will be reduced to $50,000.
According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 129,000 pedestrians were treated for accident injuries in emergency rooms nationwide in 2015, and pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in a car accident every time they travel than vehicle occupants. Due to the high likelihood that a pedestrian involved in a car accident will sustain serious and expensive injuries, insurance companies typically have a financial incentive to argue comparative fault in a pedestrian accident case.
Economic Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Although Fla.Stat.§768.81(2) can have a negative impact on a pedestrian accident victims’ claim, it does have some very important limitations. Specifically, Fla.Stat.§768.81(2) states that only economic and non-economic damages can be proportionally reduced. Economic damages compensate you for things such as:
- Past Medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Future medical expenses
Non-Economic Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Non-economic damages compensate you for injuries sustained to your mind and the overall impact the accident has had on your life in both the present and the future. Common types of non-economic damages include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of career
Punitive Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Fla.Stat.§768.81(2) does not, however, provide that punitive damages can be reduced as a result of successfully proving a comparative fault defense. Florida’s punitive damages statute, Fla.Stat.§768.72, provides that punitive damages can only be awarded when the trier of fact, the judge or jury, finds that a defendant committed gross negligence or intentional misconduct based on clear and convincing evidence.
As such, if a driver’s actions are so egregious that it warrants awarding punitive damages to you at trial, you would be able to recover the full amount of the punitive damages even if you were found to have been partially or mostly responsible for having caused an accident under Florida’s comparative fault statute. The determination of whether or not you should seek punitive damages in your case should be made based on the advice of a bicycle accident attorney, because the legal bar for successfully recovering punitive damages is very high.
Locate a Bicycle Accident Attorney in Tampa, FL Today
Pedestrian accident cases are often complex, and should always be initiated with the assistance of an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. 1800-Injured is a legal and medical referral service that connects accident victims or family members of accident victims with pedestrian accident attorneys in the Tampa Bay area. If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian accident, call 1800-Injured today to be connected with a pedestrian accident attorney near you.