Pedestrian accidents in Panama City, and throughout all of Florida and the country, are all too common. We hear of too many people, young and old alike, who are seriously injured or even killed while walking along our roadways. The simple reality is that automobiles are heavy and fast, meaning that a collision can often leave a pedestrian in the hospital while having only a minor impact on the motor vehicle. However, this does not mean that pedestrians are absolved of all responsibility. Pedestrians are responsible for following road safety laws and the failure to do so can cause injury to both the pedestrians themselves as well as others who share the road.
An accident earlier this week serves as a reminder of the potential danger of pedestrian-caused collisions. As detailed by WJGH, the accident occurred in the early hours of Thursday August 9, 2012. Officials from the Panama City Beach Police Department said that a pedestrian stepped in the path of a car as it travelled westbound on Front Beach Road in the vicinity of Reed's Court Trailer Park. Witnesses reported that the driver tried to step on the brake as the individual walked in front of the vehicle, but was unable to stop in time. Subsequent to the initial collision, a motorcycle that was behind the car ran into the back of the automobile. Emergency personnel transported the pedestrian to Bay Center and WJGH said the individual remained in critical condition at press time. Neither the driver nor the cyclist reported injuries. Police have not said whether alcohol was involved in the crash.
In Florida, the legal definition of a pedestrian includes a person in a wheelchair or who is using roller skates but does not include a bicycle rider. If a sidewalk is provided along on a roadway, pedestrians are required to use it and may not walk on the road surface. Where no sidewalk exists, a pedestrian may walk on the roadway but should stay on the shoulder of the left side of the road when possible. That requirement means a pedestrian should be facing oncoming traffic, a position that helps both the pedestrian and any driver to be aware of each other's presence. Pedestrians, aside from government or maintenance workers, are not allowed to walk on "limited access facilities" such as a highway or interstate, including on and off ramps.
Pedestrian safety is particularly crucial when crossing a road. While a pedestrian does have the right of way in a marked crosswalk, a person crossing at any other location must yield to vehicle traffic. Crossing between adjacent signaled intersections, such as are commonly found in business districts, is not permitted. Pedestrians are also required to observe traffic lights.
Like driving regulations, pedestrian rules are motivated by safety concerns. We encourage all pedestrians to familiarize themselves with these rules and encourage parents to educate their children about walking safety.
As an experienced Panama City personal injury law firm, we are available to help pedestrians who have been injured in traffic accidents. You may have a claim even if you shared some fault for the collision. While less common, we can also help a driver or cyclist who has suffered an injury due to the failure of a pedestrian to follow Florida roadway regulations.
For additional information on the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians in Florida, see the Florida Department of Transportation's summary of "Traffic Laws for Pedestrians and Drivers to Know".