In an accident between a car and a pedestrian, it’s easy to assume the driver is always at fault. This is not the case. The pedestrian’s behaviors and actions are just as important as the driver’s. If the pedestrian was not obeying traffic laws, they might be at fault for their own injuries.
Pedestrian Law in Florida
Some states have very relaxed pedestrian laws, where walkers have the right of way in most situations. Other states have very rigid pedestrian laws, where you must cross in strictly designated areas. Florida is somewhere in the middle. On one hand, it allows for crossing outside of rigidly marked boundaries; on the other hand, the act of crossing must be done within certain legal restrictions.
Once a Florida walker is halfway across the street, they have the right of way. They may cross at areas that are not designated crosswalks, but they must do so according to specific guidelines. They should be moving in a straight line, at a 45-degree angle from the curb. They cannot move diagonally unless diagonal is the shortest route. That is the major concern in Florida law, getting people across the street quickly. Diagonal crossing adds time and distance, so it is outlawed.
Crosswalks come in two varieties: marked and unmarked. Marked crosswalks have signals and lights. Pedestrians have full right of way when they are crossing at a signal. Unmarked crosswalks tend to appear in residential neighborhoods. There may be lines on the road, or there may not be. Sometimes, the only thing designating a crosswalk is a dip in the sidewalk design.
At unmarked crosswalks, vehicle drivers have an obligation to be on the lookout for walkers, and they must come to a stop when they see people waiting to cross. Although pedestrians do have the right of way, they also have a responsibility to be safe and reasonable when they cross. They cannot step out in front of moving traffic. Both drivers and walkers have a legal obligation to be on the watch for one another, taking care to avoid danger.
These laws are in place to protect everyone, but they are also designed to make sure we share the road fairly. Pedestrians who take risky, illegal actions can be held responsible for their own injuries, even if they were hit by an oncoming vehicle.
Liability and Comparative Negligence
Due to the comparative negligence law in Florida, anyone can be held at least partially responsible for their own injuries. In a civil trial, the court distributes a percentage of fault to everyone involved in an accident. It then determines what the total damages are and distributes that money based on those percentages.
Here is how it works: Buddy is the plaintiff in a civil case. He ran out into traffic without looking and was hit by a car. The court ruled that Buddy was 60% responsible for the accident. The driver, the defendant, is 40% responsible for the accident because he was speeding. In most states that use a comparative negligence model, the case would end there. They will not award damages to a plaintiff who is more than 51% responsible for their injuries.
Florida does not work this way. Our state uses a “pure” comparative negligence model. A plaintiff can receive a percentage of the total damages when they are not 100% responsible. The portion they receive is equal to the percentage of the defendant’s liability. For example, our fictional defendant was 40% responsible for causing the accident, so the plaintiff can receive 40% of the total damages.
Speaking to an Attorney
If you’re unsure of your liability in a pedestrian accident, talk to a lawyer. They can review the facts of your case and help you understand how much responsibility you have in the accident. They may even be able to show you how you are not responsible, even if you believe you are. A skilled lawyer can fight for the compensation you deserve, easing the burden as you recover from your injuries.
If you were in an auto accident while on foot, call us today at (941) 960-7225, or contact us online. Initial consultations are free. We want to hear your side of the story and help you seek justice for your injuries.