Tampa Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
If you were seriously injured while walking, the Tampa pedestrian accident lawyers at our firm will fight to earn you your maximum compensation.
Being injured as a pedestrian in an accident that occurs in Tampa can be very frightening and overwhelming. Due to their vulnerability on the road, pedestrians can suffer catastrophic personal injuries which require significant and life-long medical treatment, or even death, as a result of their accident.
A “Pedestrian” is usually defined as someone who travels by either walking or running, but can sometimes include those who use roller skates, skateboards, scooters, mechanized personal moving devices, and wheelchairs.
Pedestrian Accidents in Tampa Can Be Complicated
Pedestrian accidents involving trucks, cars, other vehicles, poor road conditions, objects, bicycles or other pedestrians are unfortunately very common. Nationwide, thousands of pedestrians are killed and injured each year. And Tampa has recently been ranked as having the 7th most pedestrian accidents of any area in the United States.
However, pedestrian accident cases can be complicated. For example, although a driver may have hit you while you were a pedestrian, a second driver may have caused the first driver to swerve into your path. Road conditions and weather on the date of your accident also have to be taken into account, as does your own portion of fault in causing the accident, if any.
On the other hand, a defendant may be at fault for a pedestrian accident if, for example: he was texting or talking on his phone, failed to pay attention to the road while driving, ignored pedestrians who were in a cross-walk or was impaired by either drugs or alcohol, to name only a few.
A pedestrian may be at least partially at fault for their accident when they, for example: walk in or near the road and wear clothing that does not allow drivers to see them at night, cross the road against a traffic light, or cross the road in the middle of the block or other illegal location, among others. Overall, pedestrians must use reasonable care while walking in and crossing roads and sidewalks. Therefore, just because a driver may have hit the pedestrian with his car does not necessarily mean that he was at fault.
Remember, pedestrian accident cases in Tampa can be complicated. Make sure you protect your legal rights and options by hiring the most experienced Tampa pedestrian accident attorney you can find so that you may receive the amount of money you rightfully deserve for the damages you have suffered.
Hire Your Tampa Pedestrian Accident Attorney as Soon as Possible
First, it is very important to hire a Tampa pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. As noted below, the deadlines to file for your No-Fault insurance benefits and lawsuit damages award need to be dealt with immediately by you and your attorney.
Another reason to hire a strong Tampa pedestrian accident attorney immediately after your accident is that memories, witnesses and evidence of your accident case will tend to be lost and forgotten over time. A prompt investigation of the accident facts by your attorney, including visiting the accident scene and obtaining photographs, witness statements, police reports and medical records, will help make sure your evidence is protected to support your pedestrian accident case.
Tampa Follows “No-Fault” Insurance Rules for Pedestrian Accidents
If you are injured in a pedestrian accident which occurred in Tampa, your options to recover damages may be limited by the “No-Fault” car insurance law.
Tampa follows what is known as the “No-Fault” car insurance law. This means that if you are injured in an accident as a pedestrian, no matter who is at fault for causing the accident, you must first file a No-Fault claim under either your own car insurance policy or the defendant driver’s car insurance policy if you do not have your own car insurance.
However, even if No-Fault insurance agrees to pay you benefits under your pedestrian accident claim, No-Fault insurance will only pay accident benefits to you for a PART of your medical expenses, lost wages and other damages. To recover legal damages above the amount that No-Fault insurance will pay you, you must file a lawsuit in court against the other driver, drivers or at-fault parties and must prove that you suffered: a permanent or “serious” injury, such as either significant scarring, disfigurement or loss of a bodily function; death; or where your medical expenses and lost wages are greater than $10,000.
No-Fault insurance benefit filing deadlines are short and require immediate action. Ask your attorney to help you file all necessary No-Fault paperwork on time.
Suing the Defendant(s) in Court for Legal Damages After You File for Your No-Fault Insurance Benefits
In Tampa, pedestrian accident court cases must be sued against the defendant or defendants who caused the accident within 4 years from the date of the accident. This 4-year period is called the “Statute of Limitations.” If you and your attorney fail to sue your case with the court within this 4-year period, your case will be thrown out and you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement or trial award.
If your injuries or amount of damages allow you to also sue the defendant or defendants in court for additional damages, you and your attorney need to prove that the defendant or defendants owed you a duty of care, that they failed to perform this duty of care either by their action or failure to act while driving, walking or performing some other action, that the defendant caused your pedestrian accident and is therefore responsible for your injuries and that your injuries resulted in money or other types of damages to you.
Overall, the types of damages that may possibly be awarded to you in a Tampa pedestrian accident case may include: medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring and disfigurement, loss of companionship, emotional distress, disability, and “pain and suffering,” which is often the largest portion of damages awarded. Fortunately, in Tampa there is no limit to the amount of “pain and suffering” damages that may be awarded to you in your pedestrian accident case.
In addition, if there is clear and convincing evidence that a defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk and acted with more than simply negligence in causing your pedestrian accident, then you may also be able to collect additional “punitive” (or punishment) damages against the defendant.
Furthermore, if you should die either during your pedestrian accident, or afterwards due to injuries you suffered in the accident, your case changes from a pedestrian accident personal injury case to a wrongful death case in which your family (your “estate”) may be awarded additional types of damages. In that case, your estate could also possibly recover damages for loss of companionship and loss of guidance, as well as financial loss of your future earnings, as well as other types of damages. Your estate may also be eligible to receive a separate benefit award that will pay for your funeral expenses. Ask your attorney.
Please be aware that Tampa follows a “Pure Comparative Negligence” rule if you are found to be partially responsible for your pedestrian accident. For example, this means that if you were found to be 70% at fault for causing your pedestrian accident, then your total damage award would be reduced by 70%. This would be defined as your proportion of fault, or “comparative negligence.” Therefore, your own personal level of fault, if any, in causing your pedestrian accident is a very important part of your case.
Also, if your pedestrian accident case involves a Tampa government (“municipality”) defendant and/or vehicle, you must serve a Notice of Claim upon the defendant and the State within 3 years from the date of your accident. This is the municipality “Statute of Limitations.” You may then sue the Tampa municipality in court for your pedestrian accident personal injuries and damages. If you fail to follow these time dead-lines, you will be unable to obtain either a fair settlement or trial award against the Tampa municipality for your pedestrian accident. Ask your attorney when you can sue the Tampa municipality.
Please note that, if you are injured in a pedestrian accident while you are traveling as a worker or employee, you may also need to file a worker’s/workman’s compensation claim in order to protect your pedestrian accident benefits and rights. Ask your attorney.
Hiring the Right Attorney for Your Tampa Pedestrian Accident Case
The law has become very specialized and you need an attorney who specializes in Tampa pedestrian accident cases. Do not hire an attorney who is merely a general attorney or handles cases in different areas of the law. Make sure you hire an attorney who has strong trial experience in Tampa pedestrian accident cases.
The insurance company will be much more willing to make higher settlement offers to settle your pedestrian accident case if they know your attorney is an extremely experienced Tampa trial attorney in these types of cases. While interviewing possible attorneys to possibly represent you, ask them how many trials they have personally handled in pedestrian accident cases. Be sure to also ask them whether you will be regularly dealing with them directly, or mostly with their junior associate, paralegal or nurse.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay any money to hire a pedestrian accident attorney to represent you. It is the attorney who pays all of your case’s expenses and out of pocket costs up front, such as filing fees and office expenses, as well as the hiring of expert witnesses to prove fault (“liability”), and/or the amount of your damages. Most Tampa pedestrian accident attorneys will expect to be paid approximately 1/3 (or 33.3%) of any legal recovery you may receive, whether through settlement or trial award. Also, you do not have to pay your attorney anything if he is unable to settle your case or win at trial.
You should respond quickly to any question or request for information that your attorney sends to you. The faster you respond, the faster they can move your pedestrian accident case along. However, if you feel that your attorney is slow in returning your calls, e-mails or texts, you should consider changing attorneys.
Importance of Seeking Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention immediately after your pedestrian accident so your personal injuries can be properly evaluated and treated. However, some injuries, pain, and limitations may not be immediately noticeable and may take some time to develop. Sometimes you may not even be aware that you have suffered an injury at the time of your accident. But don’t worry, your attorney will recommend a doctor to you so that all of your injuries may be properly documented and treated.
Remember, the longer you wait to seek medical attention, the harder it could be for your attorney to relate your current injuries back to your pedestrian accident to help prove your case.
The Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friends
Do not respond to the insurance company if they try to contact you directly to discuss your accident. The insurance company is against you and your rights. They want to pay you as little as possible for your pedestrian accident. After you hire your Tampa pedestrian accident attorney, ask your attorney to respond to the insurance company.
If an insurance company makes an early settlement offer to you in order to settle your pedestrian accident case, you should understand that the offer will usually be very low and nowhere near the amount you could possibly receive through a later settlement or trial. Tell your attorney what settlement amount the insurance company offered you.
Other Important Things to Remember
Be careful – accepting an early settlement offer will prevent you from proceeding with your pedestrian accident lawsuit against the responsible defendant or defendants. On the positive side, insurance companies will usually make much higher settlement offers once a pedestrian accident case approaches its trial date, especially if your attorney is known to have a good deal of pedestrian accident trial experience.
Please remember that Tampa pedestrian accident defendants, their insurance companies and their attorneys are focused on one thing – paying you as little as possible for the injuries and damages you suffered in your pedestrian accident. And that’s not right. That’s why we will do everything we possibly can to make sure you receive a fair damage award in your pedestrian accident case.
Few people have enough savings to continue paying all of their bills, including their new medical expenses resulting from the injuries they suffered in their pedestrian accident, while they wait for their lawsuit to end. Unfortunately, attorneys are prohibited from loaning their clients any money while they wait for their cases to conclude. However, your attorney may be able to suggest other financial options. Ask your attorney.
If you cannot afford to wait for a later settlement or trial award you may wish to consider accepting an earlier, but somewhat lower, settlement offer. Ask your attorney for their opinion on this issue. Although the legal process does not move along as quickly as it should, we will push the insurance companies to move as quickly as possible and will do everything possible to make sure your pedestrian accident case takes as little time as possible.
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Frequently Asked Questions | Florida Pedestrian Accidents
What is a pedestrian accident?
In the state of Florida, if you’re hit by a car as a pedestrian, obviously first you have to seek emergency medical attention for your injuries, and then you want to make sure that you contact a personal injury attorney who can advise you about your rights. As a pedestrian, if you don’t own a motor vehicle, you may not have health insurance, you don’t have personal injury protection coverage, and you may need medical providers and follow-up that you can’t afford. If you have a lawsuit and you’re bringing a claim for those, you can seek medical attention, and then you can pay those providers, who will wait for payment later on after you’re compensated for your injuries and for your damages.
Do I have a pedestrian accident claim?
When you don’t own a motor vehicle in Florida and you’ve been involved in an accident on your bike, you don’t have any PIP benefits. Unless you have health insurance, then there’s a concern about how your medical bills are going to be paid. There are ways to investigate that, to see if you can get the coverage of the at-fault driver, their PIP benefits, or if you have a resident relative that has coverage, you can get their coverage. The main thing is that you want to get to an attorney who can help make sure that not only do you receive treatment for your medical injuries, but that also you get compensation from the at-fault driver.
How do I find the right lawyer?
I got a call recently from someone who had been injured as a pedestrian. That person wanted a male lawyer and my partner, who’s a male, was out of the office. They wanted to know what my credentials were and how they could be sure that I was the best lawyer for their case. They got off the phone and researched me. They called back in about a half an hour. One of the things that we recommend everyone do is to research lawyers, know what their credentials are, know what their prior training is, know what their rating is by Martindale-Hubble. The highest rating is an AV rating. The highest rating you can get from Avvo is a 10 out of 10 rating. You should research all of those things and look for prior clients’ comments and ratings. That’s how you make sure that you have the right lawyer, and the best lawyer for your case.
What mistakes can I avoid?
We’re often asked, “What mistakes should I avoid after a pedestrian accident?” in other words, being hit as a pedestrian by a motor vehicle. The first mistake is not seeking immediate attention for your injuries. The second mistake is in speaking to the at-fault insurance carrier before talking to a lawyer. You should contact, thirdly, an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process, handle the contact with the adverse insurance company, so that you can get maximum compensation for your injuries.
What benefits am I entitled to?
In the state of Florida, there are many benefits that are available to you as compensation if you’re hit as a pedestrian. If you own a car, then your injuries still arise out of the use of another motor vehicle because you’ve been hit by one. You have your personal injury protection benefits coverage that’s available to you, and you can seek treatment for your medical injuries under that coverage. If you don’t own a motor vehicle and you don’t have your own auto insurance coverage, you may also be able to collect and seek treatment under the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, their PIP coverage, and you may also have a resident relative – you have to be a blood relative or have a legal relationship to that relative – who owns a car, and you may be entitled to get their PIP benefits as well. The main thing you have to do is seek an injury attorney who can investigate all of those avenues for you so that your injuries are compensated and that your medical providers are able to get paid for the treatment that they render to you.
Do I have a claim for a hit and run?
I’ve been contacted a couple of times by someone who called in and said they were injured during a hit-and-run, so that there is no evidence of who that driver was. They wanted to know if they had a claim. You may still have a claim in that case because if you have coverage and you can show that the hit-and-run driver caused the collision and it was not your fault, you may have a claim against your own insurance company. Obviously if we don’t know who the at-fault driver is, we can’t contact their insurance company and get that information. You need to contact an experienced injury lawyer because very often there are exclusions and clauses for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that will provide compensation to you when you get hit-and-run by a driver. Sometimes you need to have an eyewitness who is not related to you; I have seen that in insurance policies. There are ways to deal with that, but you need to contact an experienced lawyer so that they can guide you through that process.
Who is the liable party?
Sometimes I’m asked about who is liable when there’s a pedestrian accident case. Two weeks ago we had someone call in and they had pretty serious injuries, but the problem was, in that particular case, that they had crossed – it could be shown; there was actually a video tape – that they had crossed on a green light, so the driver had the right of way. In that case, you can’t recover. But now with red light cameras and lawyers who understand how to get that information, if you are hit as a pedestrian and it can be shown that it’s not your fault, you can make a recovery. You just need to call an experienced law firm.
Is the driver always at fault in a pedestrian accident?
In Florida, just because you’re hit as a pedestrian doesn’t necessarily mean that the driver is always at fault. We hear about news stories all the time where children dart out into the street. If a driver can’t reasonably be expected to see that child, then that driver wouldn’t be at fault. We do, however, always look to other areas. For example, if you have a child on a playground, where a teacher should be watching them, then it may be the fault of that teacher who didn’t provide the appropriate supervision. In every scenario, you need to contact an experienced lawyer who can fully investigate all avenues for every claim.
Do I have a claim if I was partially at fault?
Sometimes we get calls from pedestrians who are struck by cars where there’s a division of responsibility between the driver who hits them as well as the pedestrian themselves. For example, the call we got recently was from a pedestrian who stepped out into the crosswalk a little bit too early and a driver who entered the crosswalk a little too early. What will happen in that case is that there will be a division of liability. If you don’t settle the case with an experienced lawyer who can negotiate that with the insurance company, then it will be the jury who decides the division of responsibility.
How long will this case take to settle?
I got a call just yesterday from someone who’d been hit as a pedestrian and they wanted to know in the first call, “How long is my injury claim going to take?” There’s no way to answer that exactly because it depends on a number of factors that are all individual to you. It depends on whether or not there’s coverage by the at-fault driver, because in the state of Florida there’s no requirement of bodily injury coverage – though we try every year to change that in the legislature – and it depends on the extensive nature or non-extensive nature of your injuries. As we all know, it depends on the lawyer that you hire because the insurance companies know which lawyers handle these cases, which lawyers settle these cases, and which lawyers are willing to try your case if you don’t get a fair offer.
Contact Our Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one need a strong and dedicated pedestrian accident attorney in Florida to evaluate your pedestrian accident, please call us today to schedule a free meeting.