Central Florida is one of the most dangerous places in the country for pedestrians and bicyclists. You may have read or heard the news stories about people who are hit, seriously injured and even killed while they were only trying to cross a road. Some of these accidents happen in the designated crosswalks when the WALK sign is lit. Some drivers have hit pedestrians in crosswalks because they were distracted by either a cellphone or some other electronic device in the car. Some of the accidents happen in the middle of the road when the person is not in a designated crosswalk.
Why would someone take a risk of crossing in the middle of a busy road? The answer is simply that it is the closest place to cross and the person did not want to walk to the nearest intersection. We have all seen people passing between stopped cars on a busy highway. Recently, a young woman was killed when she was struck by an oncoming vehicle because the driver did not see her crossing between cars. Crossing at designated crosswalks helps to keep pedestrians safe, which is why crosswalks are there. The laws protect pedestrians that are legally crossing in crosswalks. The law does not protect people who are crossing in the middle of the road. The state, cities and counties spend a lot of money painting the crosswalks and putting in pedestrian crossing signals; more pedestrians should take advantage of them.
Florida law states that if you are a pedestrian and are not crossing the road at a designated crosswalk, you may be held responsible should you be hit by an oncoming vehicle. You will likely have large medical bills and significant lost wages that you cannot afford. Crossing a busy road between stopped cars is extremely dangerous, whether you are on foot or driving a car. Don’t do it!
It is just as dangerous to try to turn left through stopped traffic when you cannot see every single lane of traffic coming toward you. We see many accidents in which people are pulling through stopped cars on the roadway to pull into a shopping center or business. A driver thinks a roadway is clear because someone stopped in traffic waved for them to go ahead. This is extremely dangerous because your line of sight is usually not clear. If there is a car traveling in the inside lane, the driver of that car cannot see you either. In these types of accidents, there may be multiple parties that helped to cause that accident; the driver was pulling through the stopped cars, the driver waving for the vehicle to go ahead and possibly the driver coming down the inside lane. Usually, we do not know the name or much identifying information of the driver who waved the vehicle through. With cameras at many intersections, we might be able to determine the owner of the vehicle. If we cannot identify the driver who waved you through, a claim can be asserted against that driver by filing an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company as that driver becomes what is known as a “phantom” driver.
In either case, the pedestrian walking between stopped cars or the driver pulling through stopped traffic, the pedestrian or driver will likely be found by a jury to have contributed to the accident. Don’t take unnecessary risks by doing either one of these dangerous actions. Protect yourself and your family and be safe. Take that little extra time to walk to the crosswalk and cross when the light allows you to cross. Teach your children these safe practices and let’s see if we can help Central Florida become safer for everyone on the road.
If you, a friend or a loved one are unfortunately injured as a result of an automobile accident or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Wieland, Hilado & DeLattre, P.A. at 407-841-7699. For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices in law.