Florida is known for its sunny skies and beautiful coastline views. With great tropical weather all year round, many South Floridians choose to trade in their car keys for running shoes. Unfortunately, jogger and pedestrian accidents occur more often in Florida than in any other state.
According to the nonprofit Smart Growth America, Florida is home to nine out of 20 of the deadliest cities in the nation for pedestrians and joggers. The cities in Florida with the highest accident rates are Orlando and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm area.
That raises the question, what happens when you hit a jogger while driving your car? Is it the driver or the jogger who is liable? The answer depends on the facts surrounding the incident.
Car accidents involving joggers and pedestrians can be the outcome of various factors. The following covers the most common causes:
Not abiding by the laws and carelessness is often the cause of many accidents. Negligence can be described in many ways, but the most common negligent behaviors that cause car and jogger accidents include:
Distraction – We live in a world full of distractions. Drivers and joggers are often both guilty of not paying attention and getting distracted while on the road. Examples include texting, eating, altering your GPS, and talking.
Fatigue – Many people don’t get enough sleep each night. When your body and mind are fatigued, your thought process and reactions are much slower. That can sometimes result in an accident.
Intoxication – Worse than being fatigued, being intoxicated while on the road with heavy traffic can be a deadly combination.
Joggers who run at night without reflective clothing can be almost impossible to see when it’s dark out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) notes that more accidents happen at night than during the daytime. Additionally, while Florida is the Sunshine State, rain and thunderstorms occur often, which also makes joggers and pedestrians challenging to see.
Each case is different when it comes to determining fault in an accident. Either the driver or the jogger can be liable depending on several factors. In Florida, both pedestrians and drivers have an equal right to use the roadways. That means both drivers and joggers must abide by the rules of the road and must respect the other’s right to be there. Both drivers and pedestrians must always yield the right of way while on the road. Florida’s “right of way” law for pedestrians is defined in Statute 316.130(15) as the following:
…Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.
A driver who hits a jogger is not automatically responsible for causing the accident, however. If there is a sidewalk, the jogger must use it and not the road. Only when a path is not provided may a jogger be on the road. But a jogger cannot be anywhere on the road; they must stay on the shoulder on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic so that drivers are more aware of their presence. When it comes to crosswalks, pedestrians always have the right of way.
After hitting a distracted jogger with your car, the first thing to do after getting safely out of the road is to seek prompt medical attention. Both parties can suffer injuries, so calling police and emergency medical assistance is critical. Even if you feel fine, complications might arise later, so be sure to get checked out.
Be sure to exchange information with the jogger so that you have their insurance and contact information. Take photos so you have documents of the scene. While the accident is fresh in your memory, make a note of the facts surrounding the accident.
Lastly, contact an experienced car accident attorney to help with your case. Laws surrounding drivers and pedestrians are complicated and are continuously being updated. The jogger will likely believe that you, as the driver, should automatically be responsible for hitting them, but that’s not always true. With a trusted accident attorney on your side, you can be assured that you won’t be charged for an accident that you did not cause.
Pedestrians have a right to follow the rules of the road, just like motorists. A jogger who violates pedestrian laws because he or she was distracted can be liable for a noncriminal traffic violation. On the other hand, drivers can face both criminal and civil penalties if they’re found to be at fault for negligently causing the accident. Take control of the situation by calling an experienced and trusted car accident attorney for help.
McCullough & Leboff P.A. are the professional car accident attorneys representing citizens in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Pembroke Pines, Florida. With more than 48 years of combined legal experience, you can trust them to use their knowledge to help you after your pedestrian accident. Call their office today or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation.