Pedestrians are the most vulnerable of all road users and – especially in Fort Lauderdale – walking can be a risky proposition. According to several studies, the city (and South Florida in general) is one of the most dangerous places in the county for both pedestrians and cyclists. Though the city is making strides to become more walkable, pedestrians in Fort Lauderdale are still exposed to busy arterial streets, poorly located bus stops, and extremely wide crossings. Pedestrian accidents can cause severe and life altering injuries – that’s why it’s best to consult an experienced Florida pedestrian accident lawyer if you have been involved in an accident. Our team can successfully handle your case while you focus on recovering from your injures.
Dangers for Fort Lauderdale Pedestrians and Cyclists
Fort Lauderdale has the dubious honor of being one of the nation’s leaders in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. It ranks second for the number of pedestrian fatalities and fifth in the nation for traffic fatalities.
Between 2009 and 2014, there was an average of 20 fatalities on the streets within the city limits, with nine pedestrian fatalities and two bicyclist fatalities annually. Pedestrian and bicycle crashes tend to have a much higher fatality rate because of the nature of these accidents. In fact, approximately 3% of all crashes involving a bicycle or pedestrian results in a fatality, while only 0.04% of motor vehicle crashes produce a similar result.
Characteristics of Dangerous Roads For Pedestrians
There are several factors that might make roadways more dangerous for pedestrians. Some of the biggest dangers according to federal data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) are:
The majority of pedestrian fatalities occur on higher capacity, higher speed roadways called “arterial” roadways according to FARS. Transportation engineers design arterial roadways to move the most traffic in the shortest amount of time. These roads are wide, fast, and flat, which helps minimize disruption during peak traffic times. These “main veins” have also become the main streets of our communities, and are surrounded by apartment complexes and shopping areas, public parks, and urban walkways.
City planners often set aside the needs of pedestrians in favor of moving as much traffic through an area as possible. In the past decade, more than half of the nation’s 45,284 pedestrian deaths occurred on arterial roadways.
A vehicle’s speed is another large factor in both traffic crashes and those involving pedestrians. Approximately 61% of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on roadways where the posted speed limit was 40 mph or higher, according to federal data. Conversely, only 9% of pedestrian fatalities occurred on roads with a posted speed limit of 30 mph or lower.
A pedestrian accident on a high-speed road can be especially devastating, if not fatal. Some 44% of all pedestrian accidents in Fort Lauderdale occurred on city-owned streets, accounting for 57 deaths and 881 injuries between 2009 and 2014.
Pedestrian Accidents & Injuries
In Fort Lauderdale, some types of accidents are more common than others. Accidents involving pedestrians can occur in virtually any scenario, but here are some of the most common:
- Hit-and-Run Crashes. Hit-and-run incidents are common in Fort Lauderdale. In some sad cases, drivers will panic when they hit a pedestrian and then flee the scene. They may panic because they fear criminal punishment, lack proper insurance, or they’re driving with a suspended license. These accidents can be deadly. When they aren’t, they often lead to catastrophic injury. What’s worse, pedestrians may have difficulty gaining compensation for their injuries in an incident involving a hit-and-run driver.
- Accidents at intersections. Pedestrian injuries at intersections are common in Fort Lauderdale, comprising almost a fifth of all area incidents. Vehicles are turning and changing lanes, and drivers may be distracted or lack focus. Pedestrian-involved accidents can occur when drivers miss a pedestrian in their blind spot or are driving on “autopilot.”
- Crush accidents. Though rare, these devastating accidents occur when a pedestrian becomes caught between two vehicles or between landmarks during sideswipes or a head-on crash. These accidents are often fatal or permanently disabling.
- Back-over accidents. In some situations, drivers may accidentally back up into a pedestrian when in reverse. This may be because they forgot to check their blind spot, but it may also be because the pedestrians are small children who are difficult to see in the mirror. These accidents are more likely to occur in parking lots, structures, and driveways.
Pedestrian injuries vary widely from catastrophic afflictions to minor injuries that heal over time. Some of the most common include:
- Fractures. It’s not uncommon for pedestrians to suffer broken bones in their extremities and ribs, especially in high-speed crashes. Broken ribs can, in rare cases, puncture the lungs or other organs and cause life-threatening complications.
- Severe bruising and contusion. Bruising of the soft tissues of the skin following an accident is common, but it’s also possible to damage internal organs, especially in a high-speed accident. Organ bruising or internal bleeding can be fatal if not immediately treated.
- Head and spinal injuries. Concussions and traumatic brain injury can occur in pedestrian-involved crashes, leading to a lifetime of complications. The force of the impact can also create bruising of the spinal cord. This can lead to total or partial paralysis.
- Catastrophic or devastating injury. In a legal sense, we refer to catastrophic injury as anything that leads to long-term or permanent hardship. Handicaps or lifelong complications fall under this category.
Compensation for a Pedestrian-Involved Accident
Since crashes involving pedestrians often result in serious injury, medical treatment and rehabilitation can be expensive. Diagnostic testing alone can cost thousands of dollars, and surgery or other procedures can cost tens of thousands more. Victims of serious accidents also have to miss long periods of work, compounding expenses.
A personal injury lawsuit can help pedestrians gain compensation for their injuries, alleviating the financial worry of being in an accident. These civil actions include several types of damages:
- Economic damages provide relief for the tangible costs of an accident. These include medical bills, lost wages, and the cost of rehabilitation and therapy. They will also provide victims of disabling injuries help with home care and accommodation, such as ramps and wider doorways.
- General damages compensate for the immaterial losses of an accident. This includes things such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, and any loss in life quality.
- In certain instances, the courts may grant “punitive damages.” These serve as punishment to the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one have sustained serious injuries in a pedestrian-involved accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to successfully represent your interests and will work diligently on your behalf to achieve the best outcome possible for your case.
The experienced Florida injury lawyers at Kelley/Uustal know a pedestrian-involved accident can wreak havoc on your life. You might be struggling under the weight of medical bills or wonder how you can possibly move on with your life. We’re committed to helping you get your life back on track. That’s why we proudly offer our legal services on a contingency-fee basis, which means you only pay if we win.
Your legal process begins with a free initial consultation. Let one of our attorneys review the facts of your case and help you decide on your next steps. To schedule your free case evaluation today, please contact us.