This is Part II of our two-part blog post reviewing why Florida has been deemed the most dangerous state for pedestrians and discussing the benefits and difficulties faced by injured pedestrians pursuing legal remedies. As this post makes clear, pedestrian accident lawsuits often involve severe injuries and aggressive attempts by insurance companies to transfer blame to the pedestrian. If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Miami, we invite you to contact our lawyers about your specific situation.
Florida Criminal Justice System Often Fails to Achieve Justice for Injured Pedestrians
If you are a pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle or a family member of someone who dies in a pedestrian accident, your grief and anguish can be intensified by a lack of justice. Negligent drivers who cause injury to pedestrians often receive sentences in Florida that do not provide the victim and/or the victim’s family with a sense of justice. The Orlando Sentinel article that closely analyzed pedestrian accidents in Florida reported that out of 54 criminal cases involving drivers who ran over pedestrians, motorists who caused serious injury and death faced negligible or no jail time.
The tragic story of Bobby Stout provides a telling example. Bobby Stout was run down while walking on the sidewalk, but an Orange County circuit judge did not sentence the driver to any jail time. The writer of the story reviewed 333 pedestrian accident deaths and 880 incapacitating injuries to pedestrians in three Florida Counties from 2007 through 2012. Shockingly, the article reports that 80 percent of the drivers got traffic tickets for running red lights, careless driving, failure to yield, and speeding, but the typical penalty imposed was a $166 fine.
According to the article, there is rarely an additional penalty even if a pedestrian is killed in the collision. Of the 54 motorists who were charged with more serious criminal driving offenses, only eleven received more than a year in jail. Even more appalling, the vast majority of cases involved drivers under aggravating circumstances or with prior criminal records.
While a fatal pedestrian accident that resulted in the stiffest sentence of ten years might sound like a rare case of justice being served, this is not so clear when the circumstances of the fatal crash are considered. The driver had a prior state prison record relating to an incident where the driver navigated his car around an officer directing traffic onto a busy sidewalk before seriously injuring a pedestrian after slamming into her. Instead of stopping to render assistance, he fled the scene and led police on a high-speed chase. Some of the other sentences included:
- 25 drivers who received probation with no jail time
- 6 people who received a few days in jail
- 3 driver who got one to five months
- 4 motorists who got one year in jail
- 5 of the 54 cases still pending at the time of publication of the article
Civil Lawsuit Provides Opportunity to Hold Careless Drivers Accountable
Although legal claims for injuries suffered in pedestrian accidents can present difficult issues of proof, civil lawsuits often provide the best option for holding negligent drivers accountable for the harm they cause. Obviously, the primary objective of a personal injury lawsuit is to obtain compensation for an injury victim, but a secondary objective is to ensure that intoxicated, distracted, and otherwise unsafe drivers are punished.
The analysis of Florida pedestrian accidents conducted by the Orlando Sentinel found that drivers were at-fault, at least in part, in 20 percent of pedestrian crashes. The investigating officers determined that these motorists engaged in such unlawful or unsafe driving practices as speeding, running traffic lights, driving under the influence (DUI), distracted driving, failing to yield, and reckless driving.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a careless driver in Florida, you might consider the penalties imposed by a criminal court unsatisfying. Although the principle function of a personal injury lawsuit involves recovering monetary damages to compensate the injured, civil lawsuits also serve a justice and deterrent function. A large monetary judgment against a negligent driver can impose “financial penalties” while discouraging similar unsafe driving in the future.
Admittedly, financial compensation cannot give a parent back the love of a child or a spouse the companionship of a husband or wife killed in a pedestrian crash. However, a loved one can obtain the financial means to help a permanently disabled family member maintain the highest quality of life and obtain a sense of closure by holding a drunk, distracted, or reckless driver accountable for the pain, emotional harm, and financial challenges caused by the driver’s irresponsible conduct.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Injuries and Wrongful Death Suffered in Pedestrian Crashes in Florida
If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian accident, our Florida Pedestrian Injury Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano will tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.