Recently, we closed a case involving a lovely woman, our client, who was hit by a car on Miami Beach. She was crossing Pine Tree Drive and headed West on 41st Street (also known as Arthur Godfrey Road). The Northbound light on Pine Tree Drive was red. And our client entered the crosswalk with a “walk” signal. But a driver of an SUV (not a small car) took his foot off the brake and knocked her down. She was in the crosswalk when this happened. In our experience, Plaintiffs in pedestrian knockdown cases who are walking or standing and are hit by a moving car have the edge in court and negotiations. Drivers are called upon to look out for pedestrians. In fact, Florida Statute 316 places a heavy burden on drivers to keep a lookout for pedestrians or any person walking at or near a roadway. While a Plaintiff who was in a crosswalk and is hit by a car has a better case, it isn’t absolutely necessary to show you were in the crosswalk at the time the vehicle collided with your body.
Florida Statute 316.130 states that, notwithstanding a pedestrian’s duty to obey a series of laws, “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.” However, pedestrians do have to follow the law and jaywalking in Florida is illegal. You can get a ticket for it. And, at a trial on a civil case, if you violate a jaywalking law, it may be used to say you were partially at fault or “comparatively” negligent in causing the accident. This doesn’t mean you can’t recover. Only that your recovery will be reduced by the amount or degree to which a jury finds you were negligent or “comparatively” negligent or at fault or wrong.
For example, one jaywalking law prevents a pedestrian from crossing a street at anything other than the shortest angle or a right angle. Another prohibits you from walking on a street shoulder if there is a sidewalk. To see the complete jaywalking laws, click on the following link: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.130.html.
Going back the firm’s case, our client was not at all comparatively negligent. She was in the crosswalk when she struck her head on the ground forcefully and suffered a gash to the area above her eye. She was taken by Miami Beach Fire Rescue to Mount Sinai Hospital. And she was treated there for a possible closed head injury. An MRI was done which showed no permanent damage to her brain. But the gash was deep. She was cut above her eye and next to the orbit bone. It was at least a 2-centimeter (cm) incision. The emergency room department cleaned the wound and stitched and released her. She did not break any bones or suffer any herniated disks that could be seen on CT (“CAT”) scan or MRI (“magnetic resonance imaging”).
Our client followed up with a plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon was a medical doctor. He was and is board certified and fellowship trained. That means that he isn’t just a generally licensed doctor but someone who has gone through intense practical training (the fellowship) and passed rigorous exams (board certification).
The doctor said and would have testified that our client’s injuries were permanent and that she would benefit from a “revision”. A revision is a surgery where the doctor tries to repair a scar. It is important to know that such a scar can really never be removed entirely as scars are often permanent. Thus, the expert physician said that he could improve but not remove the scar. The doctor’s opinion was that the surgery to repair the scar would cost around $15,000.00 and that it would not totally remove the scar above our client’s eye. Also very important was the permanent scarring to our client’s face. For a woman, facial scaring is significant. In this case, the Defendants actions left her with a permanent disfigurement. In Florida, for there to be a case for scarring from a car accident, the scarring has to be significantly disfiguring. What this means is all up to six jurors. Call us so we can let you know if we think your scaring rises to this level of “significantly disfiguring”. In this case, it did.
In the end, our job was to do our best to make the client happy. If you want more information about this case, or if you were hit by a car while walking as a pedestrian and knocked down, call us. We will tell you whether or not we think we can help. Feel free to email Jonah at email@example.com and he will answer your question(s).