I Was Hit in a Crosswalk, Does That Automatically Mean The Driver is at Fault?

I Was Hit in a Crosswalk, Does That Automatically Mean The Driver is at Fault-img

At the Law Office of The Dash Cam Lawyer™, we understand the confusion and concern that arises after you’ve been hit in a crosswalk. It’s a situation that can leave you feeling vulnerable and uncertain about your next steps, especially here in Florida. That’s why we’re here to shed light on this issue, guiding you through the complexities of determining fault in these situations, all while keeping the conversation straightforward and devoid of legal jargon.

Understanding Fault in Pedestrian Accidents in Florida

When you’re struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk, it might seem logical to assume that the driver is at fault. However, determining liability is only sometimes straightforward, especially in Florida, which follows a modified comparative negligence rule. This means that the driver and the pedestrian can share responsibility for the accident depending on their actions leading up to the incident.  Or if one of them is even slightly more than 50% at fault, their right to pursue a claim is barred. 

The Role of Crosswalks in Florida

Crosswalks are designed to provide pedestrians with a safe space to cross the road. Florida law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. However, pedestrians are also expected to exercise caution and not enter a crosswalk recklessly. The question of fault, therefore, often hinges on a detailed examination of both the driver’s and the pedestrian’s behavior at the time of the accident.

Factors That Influence Fault Determination

Determining fault in pedestrian accidents involves a detailed analysis of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Various factors come into play to ascertain who bears the majority of the responsibility for the accident. Here’s an expanded look at the key factors that influence fault determination:

  • Whether the Pedestrian Was Using a Marked or Unmarked Crosswalk
    • Marked Crosswalks: These are clearly designated with paint or signs indicating where pedestrians should cross. Drivers are generally expected to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks, making it easier to attribute fault to the driver if they fail to do so.
    • Unmarked Crosswalks: While less visible than marked ones, unmarked crosswalks legally exist at most intersections unless explicitly stated otherwise. Determining fault can be more complex in these situations, as the expectations for both pedestrians and drivers regarding right-of-way are less clear-cut.
  • If the Pedestrian Entered the Crosswalk Against a Traffic Signal
    • Compliance with Signals: Pedestrians are expected to cross streets when traffic signals indicate it is safe to do so (e.g., a “walk” sign at a traffic light). If a pedestrian crosses against the signal and an accident occurs, this can significantly impact fault determination, often attributing more fault to the pedestrian.
    • Signal Malfunction or Absence: In cases where traffic signals are not functioning correctly or are absent, other factors, such as right-of-way laws and driver behavior, will play a more significant role in fault analysis.
  • The Speed and Behavior of the Driver Approaching the Crosswalk
    • Speeding: A driver exceeding the speed limit or traveling too fast for conditions can be deemed more at fault, as speeding reduces reaction time and increases stopping distances.
    • Driver Distraction: If the driver was distracted (e.g., using a phone, eating) and failed to notice the pedestrian, this behavior would heavily influence fault determination towards the driver.
  • Driver Intoxication: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs not only constitutes a criminal offense but also significantly affects fault assessment, usually against the driver.
  • Visibility and Road Conditions at the Time of the Accident
    • Poor Visibility: Factors such as nighttime, fog, or heavy rain can affect a driver’s ability to see pedestrians and a pedestrian’s judgment of safe crossing times. Fault may be shared if both parties failed to take adequate precautions given visibility conditions.
    • Road Conditions: Slippery or uneven road surfaces can affect a vehicle’s stopping distance or a pedestrian’s ability to cross safely. If accidents occur under such conditions, the extent to which each party could have anticipated and reacted to these conditions plays a role in fault determination.

Florida’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

Florida’s approach to comparative negligence means that if you, as the pedestrian, are found partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re found to be 20% at fault for not paying attention while entering the crosswalk, your compensation could be reduced accordingly.  Conversely, if you are found to be even slightly more than 50% at fault, your right to recover or have a case, is barred. 

Practical Advice for Pedestrians

If you’re hit in a crosswalk, there are several steps you should take to protect your rights:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority.  Get checked out immediately.  Additionally, medical records can serve as substantial evidence.
  • Document the Scene: Take pictures and videos of the crosswalk, traffic signals, the vehicle that hit you, and any relevant road conditions or signs if you are able to.  
  • Gather Witness Information: If there were any witnesses to the incident, their accounts could be invaluable to your case.  Make sure you get their information!! DO NOT rely on them giving their information to the police.
  • Report the Accident: Ensure the incident is reported to the authorities. A police report provides an official record of the accident.

Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

Being hit in a crosswalk doesn’t automatically place fault on the driver in Florida. Determining liability is influenced by various factors, including actions taken by both the pedestrian and the driver. Understanding these nuances is crucial for anyone going through the aftermath of such an accident.

For more information or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call 561-533-7800 or online for a free consultation. At The Dash Cam Lawyer® , we support you every step of the way.

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