Pedestrian Accident lawyer Clearwater | Mark Perenich
What are pedestrian Accidents?
Often we do not think of walking as being a dangerous form of transportation, but with many motor vehicles on our roadways, being a pedestrian can be risky. Pinellas county is ranked 6th for highest fatalities of pedestrians from 2007-2011. Over four years Pinellas county averaged over 4000 pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities. Many things contribute to the pedestrian and bicyclist traffic in the state of Florida, weather being a major factor. Recreational biking and walking is common in our state because of the favorable environment. Trails and bike lanes in our area are also contributors to these unfortunate circumstances. However, with proper safety precautions and by being aware of our surroundings, both as a driver or a pedestrian, we can decrease the amount of injuries and deaths in our area.
Recent pedestrian accident in Clearwater:
Just last month a 38 year old Virginia man was killed when he was struck by a Ford Explorer as he was trying to cross U.S. 19 at Curlew in Clearwater at night. He was flown to Bayfront Medical Center St. Petersburg where he died.
Hit and run accident:
Recently in St. Petersburg a man was arrested in a fatal hit and run accident involving pedestrians. Officers were called to the intersection of Coffee Pot Blvd and Walnut Street to find two pedestrians in their 70’s had been hit by a vehicle that had fled the scene. The female pedestrian reportedly knocked into the water of Coffee Pot Bayou where paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene, while the male pedestrian was lying on the pavement where he was transported to Bayfront Medical Center. Witnesses say that they saw a black 2006 Ford F-250 swerve off the roadway and up onto the sidewalk where it struck the two pedestrians. Luckily witnesses obtained a tag number and police were able to track down the hit and run vehicle along with its driver. He is being charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving death, one count DUI manslaughter, one count of DUI serious injury, driving with an expired drivers license and careless driving.
Police being injured at work:
There have also been many instances of law enforcement officers or emergency workers being injured by vehicles passing by while they are on the side of the road. Because of this Florida has established its “Move Over” law. This law states that if you see an emergency vehicle parked on the side of the road with lights flashing you must either move over to vacate the lane closest the the emergency vehicle (4 lane road) or slow down to at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit (2 lane road). Breaking this law can result in a fine.
Overall awareness can save lives of those who are on or around our roadways. Drivers, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists, must be diligent in order to create a safer environment for everyone.
If you have been hit by a car, bus, or motorcycle you need to call an attorney today to know what your rights are. Call Personal injury attorney Mark Perenich
What about when your hit by a car on Foot?
Who will pay for my medical bills?
If the party that hit you has car insurance, their personal injury protection or PIP coverage will cover you in most cases. Keep in mind that at least 25% of the vehicles you see on the road are uninsured or underinsured, therefore your health insurance will need to cover your medical bills.
The Risks of being a Pedestrian in Florida
Pedestrian safety has never been a major cause of concern or issue for anyone, from our policy makers to local governments. In recent years when health organizations, doctors, healthy living ‘experts’ have been advocating the benefits of walking, a lot of people are leaving aside their vehicles at home, preferring to walk instead. The lack of concern towards safety of pedestrians has something to do with our inherent bias, whenever we hear the word ‘accident’ the first image that comes to our mind is of car crash and the injuries suffered by people riding on a vehicle. The same bias manifests itself in a larger sense, when we talk about road safety. We spend billions, make our law enforcers work overtime, just to ensure that our cars, roads are safer, traffic collisions don’t occur and the lives of people riding a vehicle can be saved but we never pay due importance to the safety of our pedestrians.
Pedestrians are the people who are rarely at fault in a traffic accident but when an accident does occur, they are the ones who suffer the maximum injury. While reckless drivers do get a shield to protect themselves in an accident from the outer body of their vehicle, seat belts and airbags, pedestrians don’t have any such protection. The only way to protect a pedestrian is to avoid accidents from occurring by – making our streets safer!
More about pedestrian accidents:
Recently the National Complete Streets Coalition came up with a report in association with Smart Growth America, AARP and America walks on pedestrian safety, ranking major metropolitan areas in the country based on how safe they were for pedestrians. The organization used Pedestrian Death Index (PDI) as a measure to compare the relative safety of one place to another. PDI is based on death that occurs in a region vis-à-vis the number of people who walk to work and gives the likelihood of a person on foot being hit by a vehicle and getting killed. The report is an eye opener for our policy makers and local government, especially those in Florida.
In the period between 2003 and 2012, the number of pedestrians who were seriously injured due to a traffic accident in the U.S. was 676,000. The number of people who were killed while walking the streets in the same period was 47,025 nearly 10 times the number of people who were killed due to a natural disaster in the same period. The numbers, when seen without a bias and compared with fatalities due to other causes, goes on to show the seriousness of the problem.
From 2003-2012, the national PDI in U.S. was 52.2 and the average annual pedestrian fatality rate for the same period was 1.56 per 100,000 people.
The epidemic of pedestrian death in Florida
The astonishing part of the report by National Complete Streets Coalition is that the top 4 metropolitan areas in its ranking of pedestrian death are located in Florida.
Orlando- Kissimmee leads the list by being the most dangerous metropolitan area in the U.S. for pedestrians. Across the Orlando region, the PDI for 2003–2012 was 244.28, four times higher than the national PDI! There were a total of 583 deaths in Orlando region for the 2003-2012 periods.
Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater are the second most dangerous region in the U.S for pedestrians with a PDI of 190.13 and 874 pedestrian’s death in the period of 2003-2012.
Rank 3 in the list is taken by Jacksonville with a PDI of 182.71, while Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach region comes 4th with a PDI of 145.33.
Since it’s a national report that focuses on pedestrian safety, it doesn’t focuses on Florida as much or elaborates upon WHY the top 4 most unsafe places are those from Florida. In a brief mention, the reports point out that metropolitan area in Florida grew in post-war period, mostly through neighborhoods with low population density that rely on wider streets with higher speeds to connect shops, schools and homes. These high speed ‘streets’ as the report points out tend to be more dangerous for pedestrians.
The report points out, the maximum number of pedestrian deaths occurs on arterial roadways, designed and engineered for speeding automobiles and the major chunk of these roadways were built with federal money and designed to federal specifications.
The data from this report is a wakeup call for policy makers, people involved in developing Florida’s infrastructure and even for common Floridians to take pedestrian safety seriously and ensure that people walking on the streets of Florida are safe. As the report suggests majority of these ‘pedestrian’ accidents can be prevented by taking deliberate steps, through better policy, regulation, design, and practice, in the same way that have been done with vehicular accidents.
Do pedestrians have the right away?
Each year in the United States about 4,500 people are killed in pedestrian accidents, most of them occurring during non-inclement weather and not at an intersection. Pedestrians in the state of Florida have the right of way and should be yielded to by motorist, however this does not always happen.
Take precautions as a pedestrian:
- Always use caution if crossing a big intersection
- Stay well lit if traveling by foot during the evening and early morning
- Stay on a foot path/sidewalk, if there is no path walk facing traffic as for from vehicles as possible
- Do not use headphones and stay alert
- Be predictable, use crosswalks
- Stay off of highways
- Avoid alcohol use, especially in an area you are unfamiliar with. (You can receive a DUI on a bicycle!)
- Stay alert
- Do not drink and drive
- Never pass vehicles at a crosswalk
- Yield to all pedestrians
- Use slower speeds when driving through pedestrian filled area
- Pay attention to trails or bike paths before you turn. Often times people are about to cross the intersecting street before you turn.
- Look 100 feet to the right and to the left of the bike path you are about to cross.