In the last few months, Pasco County has been working on a pedestrian walkway that will stretch five miles from Pioneer Museum Road in Dade City to Mosstown Road in Lacoochee along U.S. 301. According to the Tampa Tribune many local residents are welcoming the project because it means safer passage along the highway. As the Tampa Tribune notes in the article, a pedestrian or bicycle accident occurs in the Tampa area every four and a half days, making it essential to create safe pedestrian areas where possible.
When a pedestrian or bicycle rider is involved in an accident because of poorly maintained or missing sidewalks, there are multiple facets of liability and multiple parties that could be responsible for the damages sustained by the person who was injured while walking or biking on the side of the road. For the direct costs associated with the accident, such as medical bills, the need for replacement services or lost wages, payment would depend on how the accident happened and what kind of insurance is in place. If the pedestrian does not have a car and is injured, the medical bills would be paid by the insurance of any vehicle that hit them. If the injury is not caused by a vehicle, but rather is directly caused by a faulty or missing sidewalk, the responsibility could be with the city where the injury took place. If the pedestrian or bike rider has a vehicle covered by no-fault insurance, that would cover the basic expenses.
When a motor vehicle is involved, there could be multiple parties responsible for damages such as pain and suffering along with limits on what can be collected from each party. Under Florida no-fault law there is a threshold that must be met when it comes to the severity of the injury so that pain and suffering damages could be collected from the owner of the vehicle that was involved in the pedestrian accident. The injury must be severe and permanent, usually meaning that it must be a tangible injury such as a broken bone or death.
However, this threshold does not exist when there is a trip and fall accident on the sidewalk or if the city where the sidewalk was located was otherwise at fault. In the case of the U.S. 301 sidewalk, many pedestrians were walking along the side of the road when there was no sidewalk present, sometimes feet away from vehicles. This would have opened up the cities where the sidewalk is being built to liability because they failed to provide a safe area for pedestrians to walk. In the case of a trip and fall accident or other negligent act related to the sidewalk, or lack thereof, the injured party is much more likely to collect pain and suffering damages from the municipality where they accident occurred, even if a vehicle was also involved.
Because of the complexity of who is responsible to pay for damages in a pedestrian or bicycle accident, it is essential to contact an attorney right away. There are most likely deadlines that must be met or notice requirements that you may not know about. Additionally, evidence or witnesses could disappear. Call the Brooks Law Group at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT right away if you are involved in an accident as a pedestrian to protect your rights. The consultation is free and you will help protect yourself. Call the Brooks Law Group right away.