Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Seeking Compensation for Vulnerable Pedestrians Struck by Motor Vehicles
While any collision with a motor vehicle comprised of metal and weighing thousands of pounds can cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, pedestrians are the most vulnerable of all crash victims. Pedestrians have no protection from injury when struck by a motorcycle, car, pickup, SUV, passenger van, or tractor-trailer. The human body simply is not built to withstand the force of a motor vehicle accident. The result of such a crash can be serious or even catastrophic injuries that include broken bones, compound fractures, spinal cord injuries (SCIs), internal organ damage, loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and other life-altering injuries.
Boca Raton Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Although traffic laws and roadway features are designed to make pedestrians safe, intoxicated, distracted, speeding, and otherwise careless drivers can make crosswalks, intersections, parking lots, and even sidewalks dangerous for pedestrians. Our experienced Boca Raton pedestrian accident attorneys represent vulnerable walkers, joggers, and runners hit by careless and distracted drivers. At the Shiner Law Group, our Florida injury lawyers are committed to providing the exemplary legal representation associated with mega-firms with a focus on the personal attention usually thought to be the province of smaller firms. We focus on conducting a meticulous investigation of the facts, maintaining a thorough knowledge of changing legal standards, engaging in effective negotiation and advocacy, and delivering timely communication with our clients. Our dedication to these types of principles has allowed our law firm to garner many accolades, such as:
- Highest rating available from dozens of satisfied clients on many websites and legal portals like AVVO, Google, Yahoo, and many others
- Awarded a 10.0 “Superb AVVO Rating”
- Martindale-Hubbell Client Review Rated Lawyer of Preeminent 5 out of 5
- Listed in Best Lawyers in America® and Superlawyers®
Our Boca Raton pedestrian accident attorneys guide our clients through a myriad of legal procedures and insurance company traps. Insurance companies often manipulate legal procedures and deadlines to derail valid claims. Insurers often drag out the litigation process to impose financial pressure on the victim who might be dealing with spiraling medical bills during a prolonged period of disability. When the claims process is drawn out, insurers know that unrepresented pedestrians often run afoul of procedural requirements and important deadlines. When destructive roadway design contributes to a collision between a person crossing the street and a motor vehicle, for example, timely notice must be served on the responsible public entity to preserve the injury victim’s right to pursue a legal claim. Further, a lawsuit must be filed within the statute of limitations to prevent the claim from being barred regardless of its merits. The attorneys at our law firm navigate these obstacles and guide clients past critical missteps that can occur when they deal directly with insurance companies.
While drivers who violate traffic safety laws or otherwise disregard safe driving practices constitute the most dangerous hazard for pedestrians, the failure of cities and other public entities in Florida to focus on pedestrian safety can exacerbate the danger. According to the pedestrian safety organization Smart Growth America, an average of 4,700 pedestrians die each year while walking, jogging, or running. While natural calamities like hurricanes and earthquakes get much more attention, pedestrian accidents claim the lives of sixteen (16) times more people than natural disasters. Florida and the rest of the sunbelt communities dominate the list of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. Pedestrians often are put at risk because the majority of fatalities involving people on foot occur on arterials, and over sixty (60) percent of these fatal incidents occur on roads with speed limits of forty (40) miles per hour or faster. In other words, these roads were only designed for high-speed traffic rather than pedestrian safety.
Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the country for pedestrians. In a 2016 post on CarInsurance.com that focuses on traffic safety, the four (4) most dangerous cities in the U.S. for pedestrian safety were all located in Florida. The severity of the problem in our state is also reflected by a 24/7 Wall St. report, indicating Florida ranks No. 2 in the U.S. for the highest number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 people in population. When looking at these concerning statistics, the picture is even more disturbing for seniors and children. The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) reports that almost one in five (19 percent) children who die in traffic accidents are pedestrians. Pedestrians over the age of 65 also comprise 19 percent of fatally injured pedestrians.
Factors Increasing the Vulnerability of Seniors and Children to Pedestrian Accidents
Several factors explain why pedestrians and elderly walkers account for almost forty percent of pedestrian fatalities. Each of these groups is particularly vulnerable for distinct reasons, so we have provided an overview of those factors.
Children are involved in the highest number of pedestrian accidents per capita because of both physical and intellectual factors. Since children tend to be smaller, they are more difficult for motorists to see when entering the roadway from behind a parked vehicle. Insurance companies to try to shift blame to the victim. The insurer will assert the “darting child defense.” The claim made by the insurance company and driver’s attorney is that the child “suddenly darted” in front of the motorist, so he had no time to brake swerve or engage in other evasive maneuvers to prevent the collision. The classic “dart out” situation involves a child chasing a ball or dog into the street without looking or contemplating the risk. Negligence is the usual basis for holding a motorist liable for hitting a pedestrian. In simple terms, negligence is the failure of the motorist to exercise reasonable care for the safety of a pedestrian which causes foreseeable injury. Given this legal standard, insurance companies often claim that their insured was not negligent because the collision could not have been avoided. Our Boca Raton child accident lawyers have the experience to anticipate and counter this type of strategy.
Inattentive and careless drivers also pose a special risk to child pedestrians because of the cognitive limitations of children. Pedestrian accidents constitute the leading cause of pediatric fatalities in the U.S. according to the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Because children have not reached the level of full cognitive development, they often lack the awareness, judgment, and perception to avoid pedestrian hazards. For example, children lack the experience and perception to accurately judge distance and speed, which makes them less able to make accurate calculations about the safety of entering the roadway with approaching traffic. Effective advocacy and expert testimony about this lack of cognitive development can impact the outcome of a child pedestrian accident lawsuit. Our Boca Raton child pedestrian attorneys have the skill and experience to persuasively use such information and a network of experts on child cognitive development to combat attempts by the insurance company or at-fault driver to shift blame to the injury victim.
While elderly pedestrians face a comparable risk of being involved in fatal crashes, the reasons for their heightened exposure differs from those of children. Older pedestrians face a higher than average probability of being struck by a motor vehicle because of mobility limitations that can slow their ability to cross the street. Their perception or awareness of approaching traffic also can be distorted by age-related physical and cognitive issues like impaired hearing, diminished vision, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.
Older pedestrians face a higher risk of being run down by a distracted, speeding, or intoxicated motorists, which is compounded by the propensity of the elderly to suffer more serious injury in an accident. Seniors are more prone to broken hips and other broken bones and frequently require a longer period to recover from injury. This propensity to suffer more severe injury contributes to the high fatality rate for elderly pedestrians.
An older pedestrian might be more frail and vulnerable to injury. However, the eggshell skull doctrine under Florida law provides that insurance companies cannot take advantage of prior injuries, weaknesses, or ailments to reduce damage awards. This legal doctrine stands for the principle that the defendant cannot benefit from the fact the injured individual is particularly susceptible to injury. Put another way, the defendants must take their injury victim as they find them. Under this principle, an elderly person with a prior fractured hip that suffers a crippling injury in a subsequent pedestrian accident will not have his damages reduced because of increased vulnerability from the prior hip injury. Because we have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients, we have the legal knowledge and experience to recognize issues like these when seeking the maximum financial recovery for our clients.
Understanding Unsafe Driving Practices That Cause Pedestrian Accidents in Boca Raton and Surrounding Areas of Florida
While negligent and inattentive drivers cause the majority of pedestrian accidents in Palm Beach County and the surrounding areas of Florida, some other factors also cause these serious types of collisions. The types of unsafe driving often associated with pedestrian crashes include:
Intoxicated Driving: When motorists operate motor vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their driving abilities are impaired in multiple ways that contribute to pedestrian accidents. Drivers impaired by intoxicating substances pose a significant risk to pedestrians because of diminished perception, slowed reflexes, poor judgment, and lack of coordination. These limitations in the mental and physical driving skills of motorists mean that they might not even attempt to avoid hitting a pedestrian.
Distracted Driving: Although distracted drivers pose a serious traffic safety threat to all motorists, multitasking motorists pose a special danger to pedestrians with limited ability to evade a vehicle. Further, inattentive drivers often plow into pedestrians without even slowing down because they never see a person in a crosswalk until after they have run a red light or blown through a stop sign.
Unsafe Speed: Driving at an unsafe speed, exceeding the speed limit, or traveling too fast for traffic or road conditions decreases available reaction time. This lost reaction time makes preventing a collision more difficult. When a speeding driver hits a person who is walking, jogging, or running, the high rate of speed also means a greater force of impact and potentially more serious injuries.
Running Stop Signs and Traffic Signals: Intersections are particularly dangerous for pedestrians because motor vehicles and individuals on foot must cross paths. When motorists disregard traffic controls, the consequences can be catastrophic for pedestrians crossing the street.
Lack of Caution in Child Pedestrian Areas: When motorists fail to reduce their speed in school zones, parks, or other areas where children are present, the risk to kids can be significant. Texting and driving or failing to observe the special speed limits in school zones often cause devastating child pedestrian accidents.
Illegal U-Turns: When vehicles make an illegal U-turn, the maneuver can expose unsuspecting pedestrians who do not expect vehicles to suddenly change direction.
Non-Driving Forms of Negligence That Cause Pedestrian Accidents
While negligent driving causes the vast majority of pedestrian accidents, other forms of negligence also contribute to these types of traffic accidents. Examples of negligence by parties other than drivers that cause these types of injuries include:
Defective Roadways: Many pedestrian accidents are caused by unsafe roadway design, construction, or maintenance. When roads in residential areas lack safety features like crosswalks and properly functioning traffic lights, the public entity responsible for the roadway might be liable for a pedestrian crash at least to some extent. Given that pedestrian accidents can result in catastrophic injury or wrongful death, the liability of a public entity can be very important especially if the negligent driver lacks insurance or carries inadequate coverage. However, claims against public entities require compliance with the special procedures of the Florida Tort Claims Act, which includes providing notice to the public entity before filing a lawsuit. When an injury victim fails to comply with these special rules and deadlines, the ability of the plaintiff to sue a government entity usually will be barred regardless of the merits of the claim.
Lack of Vehicle Maintenance: Whether the defendant in a pedestrian accident lawsuit fails to replace bald tires or a tractor-trailer operator neglects to perform required vehicle inspections or maintenance, poor maintenance can constitute a basis for imposing liability. Liability can be imposed on an individual owner of a passenger car who fails to maintain his vehicle if this lack of maintenance contributes to an accident. A trucking company that does not maintain its fleet also can be liable for not performing such maintenance. Alternatively, a repair facility like a tire shop or brake repair facility can be liable for substandard work that contributes to a pedestrian accident.
Defective Vehicles: While most people assume that motor vehicles will function as anticipated, millions of defective vehicles are recalled annually. Critical defects like steering defects, sudden acceleration defect, and defects that cause brake failure can cause pedestrians accidents. When these types of defects occur, the manufacturer of the vehicle or faulty component might be financially responsible for resulting injuries.
How Experienced Boca Raton Pedestrian Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, the insurance company for the responsible party might contact you regarding your claim. While the insurance adjuster might seem cooperative, his or her loyalty is to the insurer. Many people damage their claim by attempting to deal directly with the insurance company rather than promptly retain an experienced West Palm Beach pedestrian accident attorney. We often hear from injury victims after they have elected to handle their own claim for a period before realizing they are drowning. While we can sometimes throw these individuals a lifeline, the best approach is to obtain legal advice as soon as possible after a pedestrian collision. Our experienced lawyers can assist you in obtaining the fullest recovery in the following ways:
Investigation and Analysis of Evidence: Our law firm will investigate your pedestrian accident claim, including reviewing the law enforcement accident report, interviewing witnesses, inspecting the accident scene, examining vehicle damage, and gathering other relevant evidence. Our law firm analyzes this evidence given applicable substantive and procedural law to develop the most effective strategy for maximizing your claim.
Working with Experts: Our Boca Raton personal injury law firm has handled many pedestrian accident claims, so we have established relationships with experts in many relevant areas of specialized knowledge like accident reconstruction, vehicle engineering, roadway design, vocational experts, economists, and medical specialties.
Sidestepping Insurance Carrier Tactics: Insurance companies salivate at the prospect of taking on parties unrepresented by knowledgeable Delray Beach pedestrian injury lawyers. Insurance carrier might attempt to shift blame to the pedestrian or contend that the pedestrian is overstating the severity of his or her injuries. The attorneys at our law firm are familiar with such strategies and work diligently to develop effective ways of neutralizing these tactics.
Identifying All Potential Defendants & Insurance: Accident victims often assume that the other driver’s negligence was the sole cause of a collision between the pedestrian and a motor vehicle. However, sometimes multiple parties contribute to the crash. Identification of a basis of liability against the vehicle manufacturer, a public entity that designed an intersection, or another third party can be essential if the driver has no insurance or inadequate coverage. Our attorneys carefully review the facts to make sure we have identified all potential coverage.
Evaluating Damage Claims: Because our law firm has been representing accident victims for over 15 years, we have the experience and familiarity with prior cases to effectively evaluate your claim and determine the damages. We conduct research that includes looking at the outcome of similar cases based on the facts and damages.
Keeping Clients Informed: Our attorneys are committed to keeping the injury victims we represent informed regarding developments in their case. At the Shiner Law Group, we are committed to the principle that the practice of law is a service-oriented profession. Our law firm policy is to respond to client calls and emails the same day or the next business day. We also keep our clients informed regarding significant developments in their case throughout the entire process of handling their claim.
Speak with a Boca Raton Pedestrian Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Boca Raton pedestrian accident, we welcome you to contact our experienced legal team so that we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights and options. We are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need to move past injuries or loss, so call us 24/7 at 561-777-7700 or online for a free case review to see how we can help. The Shiner Law Group represents those injured by hazards on the property of another in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, and throughout the surrounding counties.