A car accident is stressful. Hitting someone while you’re driving would be cause for panic for anyone. After all, depending on the circumstances, you could get sued, face criminal charges or worst of all seriously hurt someone.
To give you a better understanding of the circumstances that come into play in this situation, we’ve provided an overview below.
What is Jaywalking?
Let’s start with the basics. There are many people who will believe anything they hear from friends or the media; but at the end of the day, the Court will only consider what law states. In Florida, Jaywalking is not a legal term. However, Florida Statutes define pedestrians as “any person afoot”.
Here are the rules pedestrians must follow when crossing the street in order to comply with Florida law:
- Where sidewalks are provided, pedestrians cannot walk on the paved roadways, unless required by other circumstances
- Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians must walk on the left shoulder of the road, facing traffic
- Pedestrians cannot suddenly step off a curb and into the path of a vehicle
- Pedestrians who are crossing the street anywhere other than a marked crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to vehicles
- Pedestrians must cross the street at a right angle from the curb
- Pedestrians cannot cross an intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic control devices
What Happens if You Accidentally Hit a Jaywalker?
While pedestrians have rules to follow when crossing a street, Florida law also establishes that “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian… And give warning when necessary, and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.”
What this means is that even if you see that a pedestrian is crossing the street diagonally or failing to otherwise comply with what’s required of them by law, you, as a driver, still have to be vigilant. You can’t avoid liability by claiming: “Well, yes, I saw him crossing the street, but he was crossing it diagonally, so I kept going.” That’s not how it works. If you had any chance to either slow down, honk your horn, slam on the breaks (without causing a car pileup behind you), or otherwise avoid the accident, you’ll still be held liable for a portion of the damages. You’ll also be liable if the victim is a child or a person without the capacity to understand what they were doing.
Pedestrian Jaywalking Hit by Car, Who is at Fault
The reason we listed the pedestrian’s responsibility above is that Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that even if a person is at fault for an accident, they can still recover damages. However, the amount of damages they may be awarded will be diminished in accordance with the percentage of their responsibility.
For example, when reconstructing the accident (whether by witness testimony, expert testimony, and/or video surveillance footage), if the Court determines that the pedestrian was 50% at fault and that pedestrian has $10,000 in medical bills and $2,000 in lost wages, he or she would only be entitled to half of those damages, e.g. $6,000.
What Happens During Pedestrian Car Accident Settlements?
Before considering settlement negotiations, the attorneys for both parties will attempt to reconstruct the accident in the most accurate way possible. This is done through a process called “Discovery”. Both parties can depose people who were involved with the accident, whether they were the driver, passenger, victim, witness, or medical provider. The parties will request medical records to determine the extent of injuries, as well as paystubs and tax returns to calculate lost wages.
If the pedestrian’s injuries require surgery, the case gets more complicated, so your insurance company may be more likely to pay a higher settlement amount. Also, it’s important to note that settlement negotiations must be entered into in good faith. If the insurance company tries to deny coverage for obvious injuries when the driver was partly at fault, or if the pedestrian tries to obtain a windfall in addition to coverage for injuries and lost wages, if the case proceeds to trial, the Court may order the party acting in bad faith to pay attorney fees for the opposing party.
When Does a Driver Face Criminal Liability for Hitting a Pedestrian?
In addition to civil liability, a driver may face criminal charges if any of the following circumstances apply to the case:
- Leaving the scene of the accident
- Driving while intoxicated
- Reckless driving (willful or wanton/careless disregard for the safety of persons or property)
Call us at Clark Law for a Free Consultation
As you can see, there are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love hit a pedestrian while driving, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.