Strolling around after dark is a great way to get in some exercise and beat the heat. The activity is also perfectly legal. Sometimes, it’s also easier to walk to your destination instead of driving, especially if you’re only going a short distance. 

Happy young couple Happy young couple walking in a beautiful city in the evening night walk stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Unfortunately, 76% of pedestrian fatalities occur at night. While your chances of being in an accident dramatically increase at night, this doesn’t mean you need to give up your evening strolls. You can stay safe and still get in your steps.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians After Dark

Even though most streets are well-lit at night, it can still be difficult for drivers to see pedestrians. Even cyclists may have difficulty spotting a pedestrian on sidewalks and trails. If you’re walking at night, you want to ensure you’re visible at a distance, and you can do things like carrying a flashlight. 

However, even a lightweight plastic flashlight can get heavy after a while. A better option is to change up your clothing. Stay away from dark colors, the last thing you want to do is blend into your surroundings.

Look for bright colors, like neon—even though neon colors may not be in fashion, who cares? You’re not trying to win a fashion award, your goal is to avoid becoming a pedestrian accident statistic. You can also invest in inexpensive reflector strips or even a vest. The vest is similar to what road workers wear to help ensure they’re visible to passing motorists.

Along with wearing easily noticeable clothing, you also want to follow all pedestrian traffic laws. This includes always using the sidewalk or staying on designated walking paths. You don’t want to walk on the side of the road, especially after the sun sets. You also want to stay out of bike lanes. Remember, cyclists use the bike lanes and may not be able to stop in time to avoid crashing into you.

Even though most bicycle-pedestrian accidents tend to be minor, it doesn’t mean the collision can’t result in injuries. When you’re at an intersection, always use the crosswalk. All traffic light laws also apply to pedestrians, so cross on green and stop at the curb when the list’s red.

Determining Liability in a Pedestrian Accident

When a pedestrian accident occurs, determining liability isn’t always easy. Sometimes, the pedestrian is at fault. Other times, the driver or cyclist assumes the blame for the accident.

So, when is a pedestrian not at fault? If the pedestrian is following all pedestrian traffic laws and is taking steps to help ensure their visibility, they’re usually not assigned blame for the accident.

What If the Pedestrian is Intoxicated?

If the pedestrian has a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, Florida considers the individual to be legally intoxicated. This means it’s illegal to get behind the wheel. You are facing anything from a hefty fine to potential jail time if you’re caught driving while intoxicated.

The law is a little different for pedestrians. You can be intoxicated in public and not receive a ticket from law enforcement. However, if you’re intoxicated to the point your behavior is loud and obnoxious, or you’re deemed at risk to yourself and others, it’s illegal and you risk getting a citation for public intoxication. So, how does this affect liability in a pedestrian accident?

If you’re drunk but it’s determined you’re not a risk to yourself and others, you may not be assigned any blame for the accident. If your intoxicated behavior is the reason you were dancing in the street before being clipped by a car or bicycle, then there’s a good chance you’ll assume at least some of the blame for the accident.

When is a Driver or Cyclist Liable for a Pedestrian Accident

Traffic laws apply to both motor vehicle drivers and bicycle riders, but there are a few differences like cyclists should ride in a designated bike lane. If a bike lane isn’t present, cyclists ride on the shoulder. If there’s a sidewalk, cyclists share it with pedestrians. Typically, pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks. This means a bike rider must yield to pedestrians.

Motor vehicle drivers aren’t permitted in bicycle lanes. Drivers must also obey all traffic laws like stopping at red lights and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and this also applies to cyclists. If a pedestrian accident occurs and the driver or cyclist is ignoring traffic laws, they’re usually at fault for the collision.

Recovering Compensation in a Pedestrian Accident

Florida is a no-fault insurance state, so everyone involved in the accident has to turn to their insurance, regardless of fault. As a pedestrian, you’ll file a claim with your PIP (personal injury protection) insurance. If you don’t carry PIP, the at-fault driver’s insurance may cover your damages.

Even if you have a PIP policy, there’s a good chance it’s not going to be enough to cover all of your damages. The minimum PIP requirement is only $10,000, and this is rarely enough to cover all medical expenses. In this case, you’ll file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance to recover the rest of your expenses—the same also applies if you’re hit by a cyclist.

If the driver or cyclist isn’t carrying insurance, your next step is to contact a personal injury attorney and file a claim in civil court. Your lawsuit will seek to recover compensation from the at-fault individual.

Proving Negligence

Before you can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance or against them as a person, you need to prove negligence. Yes, this can be a little complicated. You must show the defendant owes you a duty of care and that their actions are negligent and the direct cause of the accident.

Since this process is often complicated and takes time, it’s usually best to work with a personal injury attorney.

You Can Recover Compensation for Your Pedestrian Accident

As a pedestrian, you should feel safe whether you’re out for a stroll during the day or walking at night. If you’re involved in an accident, it might not necessarily be your fault. 

Before you consider settling with any insurance company, it’s important for you to take the time to speak with an attorney. They can help you understand your legal rights and explore all your options to ensure you’re fully compensated for any harm you’ve suffered.

Published by HOLR Magazine.

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