With its year-round beautiful weather, it is no surprise that Florida has tons of pedestrians. Whether its people walking to the store, going for their daily run, or riding their bicycle to work, pedestrians are everywhere. With this abundance of pedestrians comes an unfortunate increase in pedestrian and bicycle-related accidents. According to The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), in 2014, there were 8,838 pedestrian accidents, 606 resulting in fatalities, as well as 7,077 bicycle accidents, 135 resulting in fatalities. These accidents can have a devastating effect on the injured pedestrian, as well as their family and friends.
So what should you do if you are a pedestrian/bicyclist involved in a motor vehicle accident? Because pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries, you should seek immediate medical treatment. These injuries can include, but are not limited to neck and back injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and broken bones. Under Florida law, in order to receive personal injury protection benefits (PIP), you must seek treatment within 14 days of the accident. Keep in mind, the 14 day clock starts ticking the day of the accident. Florida Statute § 627.736 provides that 80% of all reasonable expenses for necessary medical treatment will be paid for by PIP, up to a limit of $10,000.00. Under this statute, PIP benefits may be paid to you by your own insurance company if you are the owner of an insured vehicle. If you do not own a vehicle, but live with a resident relative who owns an insured vehicle, their insurance company may provide you with PIP benefits. If you do not own a vehicle, or live with a resident relative who owns a vehicle, PIP benefits may be paid by the insurance company for the vehicle that hit you.
With treatment for your injuries, often comes high medical bills. How will you be compensated for these bills? Who will pay for your treatment? While most states require every automobile insurance policy have bodily injury on it, Florida does not have such a requirement. This means that if the person who hit you did not elect to have bodily injury on their policy, then their insurance company is not required to make any payments for your medical treatment and injuries. If, however, they do have bodily injury on their policy, then you can recover from their policy limits for your treatment and injuries. If you are the owner of a vehicle which has underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, you may also be able to recover from your own insurance policy for your injuries and treatment.
If you have been involved in an automobile vs. pedestrian/bicyclist accident, you should hire an experienced, aggressive attorney who will fight the insurance company to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. Often, when people try to handle these matters on their own, the end result ends up being that they are grossly under-compensated for their injuries.
Finally, the best way to avoid the unfortunate situation of being involved in one of these accidents is to practice safe habits when walking or riding a bicycle. Always be aware of your surroundings and abide by all traffic regulations. Do not make the assumption that drivers are going to stop for you, even if you have the right of way, or that they are paying attention to their surroundings. With today’s technology, drivers are more distracted than ever. Not all accidents can be prevented, but you should always take the initiative to ensure your own safety.