Thousands of runners across Florida are in training for the upcoming half-marathon. Although the streets dedicated for the run will be blocked to traffic, a preventable tragedy at last year’s event still has many runners feeling wary.
Fort Lauderdale police reported a driver, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, paid no mind to the orange cones along the course, nor the repeated instructions by race officials and police when he barreled onto the course, striking and killing an 80-year-old runner. Defendant in that case is now in jail, awaiting trial on a charge of DUI manslaughter. Meanwhile, The Sun Sentinel reports organizers of the race – as well as police – are carefully going over the safety plans for this year. Police say they meet months in advance to plan, driving through the course themselves a good eight times to make sure they haven’t missed any glaring safety concerns. Still, a police captain quoted by the paper said while they work to anticipate possible danger, they can’t always prevent careless drivers from circumventing those restrictions.
In general, Florida is one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians – runners included. The Miami Herald reported pedestrian deaths nationally are at a 10-year high, with Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach having one of the worst rates for car vs. pedestrian fatalities.
In the 10 years leading up to 2014, there were 5,142 people killed by a car while walking. In South Florida alone, there were 1,508 lives lost. Americans are seven times more likely to die in a pedestrian accident than in a natural disaster.
Our Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident lawyers know there are several legal options for those injured in these cases. That includes personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, per F.S. 627.739. While these benefits typically only apply to the insured, as part of Florida’s no-fault system of handling auto accident claims, in pedestrian and bicycle accident, the benefits of the at-fault driver can also extend to those struck. That’s because unlike drivers, these individuals aren’t required to purchase insurance to ride a bike or take a stroll.
In many cases, though, PIP benefits aren’t enough to cover the damages, as most PIP plans carry a maximum of $10,000. From there, we would decide whether to file a claim for damages from at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability benefits. Although these are not required under Florida law, most auto insurers require it, or offer it standard. Another option would be to file a claim with the pedestrian’s uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. This could be filed if the at-fault driver lacked any insurance or didn’t have enough coverage to fully compensate for pedestrian’s injuries and losses. Pedestrians can file a claim with their own UM/ UIM carrier even though they weren’t actually driving at the time.
As for the upcoming race, some runners are advocating for better barriers. Some changes have been made to the route, but officials say that’s unrelated to the tragic events of last year.
In the long run, better street design is imperative, according to a recent report by Dangerous By Design. Streets need to better accommodate more than just those in cars with narrower roads, more sidewalks, more crosswalks, better lighting and lower speed limits and other traffic calming measures.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Lauderdale runner killed by car during race rare and unlikely, officials say, July 28,2017, By Mike Clary, The Sun-Sentinel
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