Auto vs. Pedestrian
Serving You and The State of Florida
Florida is known for its fantastic weather, beautiful beaches and scenic outdoors. Many Floridians take to foot or ride a bicycle to get where they want to go. Riding a bike allows you to do your part in caring for the environment, get exercise, take in the beautiful scenery and avoid looking for a parking space, all in one fun-to-do activity.
Unfortunately, riding a bike or walking exposes you to the dangers of vehicles that may or may not be paying attention to pedestrians or those riding bikes. The lack of attention results in numerous collisions between cars and pedestrians/cyclists. Knowing what you should do following an accident if you were struck by a vehicle is very important.
No one expects to be hit while taking a leisurely stroll or a peaceful ride on your bicycle. Sadly, it is an all-to-frequent occurrence in Florida.
How do accidents between vehicles and pedestrians/cyclist happen?
There are numerous ways that pedestrians and cyclists can become the victim of a collision with an automobile. A majority of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists occur at or near intersections, or at night.
Often, the vehicle never sees the bicycle or a pedestrian walking across a walkway and collide with them. If the pedestrian was in a crosswalk, crossing at the appropriate time, the driver of the vehicle will be held at fault. However, there are occasions when the liability is in question.
If the pedestrian or cyclist played a contributing role in the accident, they may still be able to recover damages for their injuries. However, they should understand that any award they receive will be reduced by the amount of fault apportioned to them.
It is always important to remember that as a pedestrian or cyclist, you should wear the appropriate safety attire. The appropriate attire includes a helmet, gloves, and if riding at night, reflective gear, and a flashing light. If you are walking at night, you should make sure and wear light colored clothing, reflective gear and carry a flashlight. Taking these steps can reduce or eliminate the chance that the driver of a vehicle strikes you because they are unable to see you.
Cyclists should always ride with the flow of traffic, use bike lanes when possible, and obey all traffic laws. Remaining alert and aware of your surroundings at all times can signficiantly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department, there have been 3,171 crashes involving pedestrians in Florida, just so far in 2020. The Department defines these as a crash involving an individual who was not occupying a motor vehicle, bicycle, or other mobile conveyance.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department classifies accidents involving cyclists as either crashes or fatalities. In 2020, there have been 2,407 crashes defined as a crash involving a vehicle propelled solely by human power or a motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor rated at 200 watts or less.
In 2020, there have been 58 cyclist fatalities so far in Florida. As you can see, the number of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists are very high. In fact, Florida regularly ranks as one of the top five states when it comes to pedestrian fatalities. Even more alarming is that Florida often ranks as the most dangerous state for cyclists.
What should I do if I am struck by a vehicle while walking or cycling in Florida?
You may be wondering what you can do if you are the victim of a vehicle vs. pedestrian accident. You would be entitled to pursue damages against the at-fault driver of the car or other vehicle that struck you if they were found entirely or partially at fault for the accident.
Immediately after the accident
As in any accident, you should be aware that adrenaline is a powerful anesthetic that can mask even severe injuries. If you were struck by a vehicle, you should call for 911. Allow EMS to examine you and go to the hospital for a thorough medical evaluation, even if you are unsure if you are injured.
After you leave the hospital, make sure you follow up with your physician to ensure that you are receiving the appropriate care. Make sure you report to the attending emergency room physician the details of the accident and request a complete copy of your medical records. Take these records, which will including any imaging done at the emergency room, to your regular physician. Not only is this important for continuity of medical care, but it begins the legal documentation of your injuries.
If you are examined and found to have no serious injuries, but later develop symptoms, see a medical provider right away. Some symptoms, such as whiplash, can take hours or even days to manifest symptoms.
If your injuries are severe enough, you may spend some time in the hospital, or need specialized follow-up care from providers such as chiropractors or rehabilative specialists. Keep a record of each medical provider you see during your treatment for your injuries.
Common injuries after a pedestrian/cyclist versus vehicle crash
Injuries sustained in these types of accidents can range from sprains, strains, and bruising to fatalities. The mechanisms of injury are not hard to understand. A vehicle weighs, on average, 2,870 pounds. Add that to the speed at which the car might be moving when you are struck, and it is easy to see how dangerous the situation can become. The most common types of injuries include:
- Broken bones—The force of being struck by a vehicle, even at slow speeds, is often enough to lead to a nasty fall that can result in breaks of any bone in the body.
- Sprains and strains—Being struck by a vehicle can cause any number of strains and sprains, as mcucles and joints are violently forced to move in unnatural ways.
- Head injuries—Head injuries can result from the impact of the vehicle itself, or a result of your head striking the ground in the subsequent fall. Even mild head injuries can cause long-term issues such as:
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory issues
- Loss of some degree of cognitive ability
- Problems regulating emotions
- Neck and back injuries—The neck and back are vulnerable in an accident, and you could end up with ruptured discs or broken vertebrae. The vertebrae are the bones that form the spinal column, which protects your spinal cord. In some cases, the spinal cord itself can be damaged, causing significant life-long impairment. Serious injuries to the spine can result in numerous orthopedic surgeries to restore stability, and too often, chronic pain.
- Lacerations—A laceration is a cut through the skin that can range from minor enough for a bandaid to severe enough to require surgical care for debridement. Openings in the skin are a risk factor for infections, and lacerations leave behind scarring. The scarring can be disfiguring if it is severe or occurs in a prominent place such as your head or face.
In addition to the physical injuries sustained in an accident, there is emotional trauma as well. Everything happens so fast that it can be difficult for your mind to process the event. A serious accident that results in injuries can also leave you feeling fearful, anxious or depressed. The emotional scars from an accident can last long past when the physical scars fade.
You might also find yourself dealing with the burden of a long-term change in how you live your life due to your injuries. You might be physically unable to return to a particular type of job or lose the active lifestyle you love. Whatever the changes caused by your injuries, they can take a mental toll as you learn to negotiate your way forward.
If you notice signs of lingering emotional trauma, you should seek professional help right away. Symptoms of the effects of lingering emotional trauma include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Flashbacks when something triggers memories of the accident
- Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, as well as nightmares
- New feelings of depression such as a lack of interest in things that once brought you pleasure, problems with keeping normal routines, or sadness for reasons you do not fully understand
Emotional issues are common after an accident, and you should not hesitate to talk to a trusted professional about the impact it is having on your life.
The financial ramifications of an automobile vs. pedestrian/cyclist accident in Florida
If you are injured in an accident caused by a vehicle striking you while walking, jogging, or riding a bike, the financial ramifications can be catastrophic. Even minor injuries, such as a sprained ankle, might make it impossible for you to work for some time. Serious injuries can come with a significant amount of time off work or even permanent disability.
In an instant, your life changes, and it can be a frightening time filled with worry about your physical health and your finances. The Lopez Law Group understands that no one plans for the ramifications of an accident. You should be able to focus on your physical recovery without having to worry about keeping the bills paid.
We encourage you to call us as soon as possible after an accident. Do not give a statement to any insurance company involved until you seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney in Florida. If you had no fault in the accident, an insurance company might try to make a settlement offer as soon as possible.
These insurance companies are not doing that out of concern for your well-being. They want you to accept a low initial settlement offer before contacting an attorney because they know a skilled personal injury attorney will usually be able to negotiate a significantly higher settlement.
Offering quick low-ball settlements are just one of the many tactics insurance companies use to try to avoid paying you what your claim is worth. Shifting the blame to you is another common tactic. Under Florida law, you can still recover damages, even if you shared some fault in the accident. We encourage you to speak to an attorney before you talk to an insurance company at all.
The Lopez Law Group will investigate everything that contributed to the accident, your medical records, and prognosis, and consult with trusted medical and occupational experts to determine how much compensation you deserve. We will then work hard to negotiate a fair settlement. However, if the insurance companies involved will not offer a reasonable settlement, we will be prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. You are the client, and we will advise you in each step of the process, but the ultimate decision about how to proceed always belongs to you.
Let the Lopez Law Group help you fight for the compensation you deserve
If you feel as though you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the attorneys at the Lopez Law Group are here to help. We have extensive experience in assisting victims of accidents involving a vehicle and a pedestrian/cyclist.
We understand that the aftermath of an accident can be a frightening time as you struggle with physical and emotional recovery, lost wages, and frustration in dealing with insurance companies and other third-parties. You might even find that the other party or insurance company is attempting to blame you for the accident.
We are here to help. The initial consultation is always free and we will give you an honest assessment of the strength of your case. We will walk you through every step of the process, and we make an earnest attempt to make seeking financial recovery as stress-free as possible.
Call us at 727-933-0015 to schedule a time for us to listen to your account of the accident. If you, or someone you know, was the victim of a car vs. pedestrian or cyclist accident, give us a call today!
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!
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