A high school student was crossing the street near his high school and was struck by a car driven by a teacher at the same school. The accident happened on Wednesday morning, January 8, 2019, at the intersection of School Road and Madison Street in New Port Richey, Florida, which is near Gulf High School.
According to a New Port Richey police officer at the scene, the teen did not use a nearby crosswalk when he crossed the road in front of the vehicle. He also said that speed or distracted driving didn’t appear to be an issue.
Police found headphones at the scene, but it wasn’t known if the student was using them at the time. The injured teen was airlifted to a local hospital where was listed in critical condition. Students from the school gathered just after the last bell to talk about the incident. “It’s awful, just thinking how bad that teacher feels. He didn’t mean to hit him,” said one student as noted in the Fox13 article.
We are deeply saddened to hear about this terrible crash and hope the student makes a full recovery.
Pedestrians and Crosswalks
Pedestrians are especially vulnerable when crossing a street. The average automobile weighs around 4,000 lbs. and can cause significant injuries when striking a person who has no protection. Crosswalks add some protection in that they hopefully will cause motorists to use more caution. Under Florida law, a crosswalk provides protection to pedestrians by giving them the right-of-way if used properly. Under the law, a pedestrian:
- Must obey the traffic lights and signs at a crosswalk.
- Only cross streets within designated crosswalks.
- Must stay within the crosswalk while on the road.
- Must not walk in front of a moving car that has the right-of-way.
The driver of a vehicle:
- Must yield to the right-of-way to the pedestrian in the crosswalk if in the crosswalk legally.
- Must stop at a crosswalk and wait for the pedestrian in a crosswalk if there is no signals or signage at the crosswalk.
Bottom line: A pedestrian should cross at a crosswalk obeying all signals and signs. If so, then the pedestrian has the right-of-way. However, if the signal is red for the pedestrian, then the vehicle has the right-of-way. If there is no signal or sign, and the vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, then the pedestrian must yield to the vehicle. However, if the pedestrian is already in the crosswalk, then the pedestrian has the right-of-way.
Who’s at Fault when a pedestrian is hit outside of a crosswalk?
When a pedestrian is struck by a car while not properly using a crosswalk or crossing without a crosswalk, does this mean that it’s automatically the pedestrian’s fault and he or she can’t recover for any losses? The answer is no. Florida’s crosswalk laws are traffic laws under the state’s criminal statutes. When someone is injured by another person, this is governed by the civil laws of Florida. Like most other states, Florida has a law that says a violation of a criminal or traffic law does not indicate liability in a civil case. This means that if someone violates the traffic laws and injures someone, then they are not responsible for the person’s injuries just because of the traffic violation. To determine fault in a personal injury case, the injured person must prove that the other person was negligent. So, if you were injured while crossing the street illegally, you might still be able to get compensation for your injuries. The court will look at whether the driver acted reasonably and operated his or her vehicle with due care. In some areas such as streets near parks and schools drivers should use extra care.
Do I need an attorney if I’m Hit Crossing the Road?
While it’s possible to represent yourself in a personal injury claim, it’s not advised. At the least, you should talk to an attorney who provides you a free consultation and can advise you of the law and evaluate your claim. After that, you can make an informed decision. Insurers will often blame YOU for your injury. Remember, people have insurance for a reason. Even if the driver is the nicest person in the world and even if you think you were at fault or partially at fault you shouldn’t suffer because their insurer doesn’t want to compensate you.
Contact a Tampa Auto Accident Lawyer
Always contact an attorney after any crash involving a serious injury or loss of a loved one.
RHINO Lawyers is the powerful, results-driven law firm, that takes Insurance Companies and Bullies “head on!” Anyone injured in Florida may contact us for a free consultation. Our legal team will offer you advice to help you get the compensation you deserve.