Pedestrian Accidents are More Complex Than They May Seem

When a car hits a pedestrian, it’s no wonder that there is often very serious injury that results. On one side are tons of steel barreling at significant speeds. On the other side, is a soft, slow, and vulnerable human body, which may not even see the accident coming. The result is almost always a huge disaster.

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The Facts on Pedestrian Accidents

From 2009-2013 in Miami Dade County, there were 6,419 car-on-pedestrian accidents of varying degrees of injury. In the 0-17 age group, at least one injury was reported in 84% of accidents. Children, who are often walking about the neighborhood, playing in the street with friends, or who just may not appreciate the dangers of walking amongst cars, are sadly the ones most at risk.

On the surface, a pedestrian-on-car accident seems like a clear cut case that any attorney can handle. After all, those in cars are responsible for maintaining their vehicle carefully, and we all have a duty to look out for not just other cars, but for pedestrians.

But legally, car-on-pedestrian crashes can be some of the most difficult cases there are, and should not be handled by anyone other than very skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys.

The Difficulty of Pedestrian Cases

In Florida, we have a contributory law system. This means that if you are injured, a jury can evaluate how responsible you are for your own injures. If you are, for example, 50% responsible for your own injuries and a jury feels your injuries are worth $100,000, you will be awarded only $50,000. 

Contributory laws can pose a problem to pedestrian accident cases. The drivers of vehicles will often allege as defense to lawsuits that you, the pedestrian, “jumped out into traffic,” or “came out of nowhere.” They will say that they had “no chance to avoid” you. In essence, they are simply arguing that you are responsible, in full or in part, for your own injuries. 

Thus, these kinds of cases have significant factual disputes. These disputes are often resolved through detailed testimony about: 

  • The exact location of the pedestrian when hit;
  • The speed of the car;
  • Any obstacles that may have blocked the driver’s view;
  • Whether the pedestrian looked out for traffic before crossing; and
  • The first time the driver saw the pedestrian, and the first moment the driver applied his brakes. 

Many of these questions must be determined by using experts. Experts may evaluate tire skid marks, angles of views, and time and speed calculations, to determine where both parties were at the time of the accident.

The experts make their determinations based upon the testimony of the parties. This makes party depositions—and having attorneys that can prepare you for them—of utmost importance. The difference in witness testimony between 1 second or 2, or 3 feet or 4, as given in a deposition, can alter an expert’s opinion enough to change the outcome of a case.

Many drivers will also allege that pedestrians were violating established laws, such as not crossing at crossing areas. While violating these laws does not mean that a driver can hit you at will, it can create persuasive arguments to a jury for a driver. 

Evaluation of facts, preparing for depositions, and evaluation of expert testimony, can make the difference between winning and losing your personal injury case. Talk to the Miami personal injury attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today for a free consultation about your injury or malpractice case.

Photo Credit: splorp via Compfight cc

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