For most drivers, traveling through a school zone can feel like an annoying part of your commute — traffic slows down, you get caught at red lights, and there are more pedestrians crossing the street than normal, making right-turns feel impossible. But, laws for school zones are put in place for a reason. Nationwide, nearly 25,000 children are hurt in school zones each year. So, what are the laws, and what happens if you’re involved in an accident?
Florida Laws for School Zones
There are three Florida statutes that outline what laws apply in school zones — Florida Statute 316.1895, 316.305, and 316.306. Florida Statute 316.1895 designates that the maximum speed limit in a school zone is 20 miles per hour. This law is put into place so that drivers have enough time to react or come to a complete stop if needed. This statute also outlines the parameters of the school zone and where one should be placed.
Florida Statute 316.305 states that it’s illegal to text and drive in a school zone, while 316.306 states that it’s illegal to use a handheld cell phone for any purpose while driving in a school zone. Other violations in school zones include disregarding a crossing guard and violating the right of way/failing to yield.
Common School Zone Accidents
Car Door Accidents
School zones are usually busy with children leaving school grounds and anxiously wanting to get home. There are many forms of transportation for school children — including buses, cars, bicycles, and walking. Car door accidents can occur when you open a car door into a bike lane or sidewalk and cause a bicyclist or walker harm. In extreme cases, a cyclist would become seriously hurt, or your car door window could break.
In addition to bicyclists being in danger of open car doors, there are also the normal risks that bicyclists face on the road. If a child chooses to ride their bike to school, then they must follow Florida state laws for bicycles — including using bike lanes when available and yielding to pedestrians. Common accidents that can occur in school zones are when a car comes into contact with a bicycle. But, many scenarios can impact whether you can be found at fault for a bicycle accident. For example, if a child was mad and threw their bike into the street, then you may not be responsible for the damages that ensued.
School zones often have more pedestrians than is normal for a busy road. If your car comes into contact with a pedestrian — either in your lane or at an intersection as you’re turning — then you may be found at fault for any medical damages done to the pedestrian. This can happen if you’ve failed to notice a crossing guard has given pedestrians the right of way or if a child isn’t paying attention to the traffic signs and jaywalks.
Another common school zone accident occurs at the intersection. This can involve pedestrians or other vehicles. Some common examples include switching lanes in the middle of an intersection and sideswiping the person next to you or turning at an intersection and running into a pedestrian who is crossing. Since Florida is a comparative negligence state, determining fault may not be so cut and dry in these scenarios.
Collisions with other vehicles can happen in a number of different ways, but the most common collision in a school zone is a rear-end collision or fender bender. This happens when someone hits your vehicle from behind or if you hit the vehicle in front of you. In some scenarios, multiple vehicles may be involved. This is typically caused by a vehicle going too fast, hitting the car in front of them, and then the second car involved hitting the vehicle in front of them due to the strong forward movement. If everyone is following the designated speed limit in a school zone, then fender benders can occur simply from someone not paying attention to a car stopping in front of them or from following too closely.
How an Attorney Can Help
School zone accidents — especially when involving children — can be financially intimidating. But, you don’t have to face it alone. Whether you were driving recklessly or following all school zone laws, an attorney can ensure you receive the best payout possible. During the discovery process, they’ll schedule depositions of opposing parties, witnesses, and applicable experts to determine fault. This is used to get a good visual of how the accident happened and who is responsible.
Once all evidence is put together, the parties can begin settlement negotiations. If there’s no settlement agreement, the case moves on to trial. And, your attorney will present all the evidence they’ve collected during the discovery process to help you receive the maximum payout possible.
Call Clark Law for a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident in a school zone and you don’t know how to move forward, let us help you. Our legal experts will ensure you have the best outcome possible. Call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.