Accidents are never simple. In fact, there are many circumstances in accidents that require professional analysis of many different factors, especially when the accident involves a Florida pedestrian.
Take the recent tragic accident of one Florida man who was struck and killed on Highway 29 as he was walking along the shoulder.
Neighbors maintain the intersection where he was struck and killed poses a major safety issue in the community because there is no way for a pedestrian to safely cross at this intersection on West Roberts Road.
FL Pedestrian Struck on Highway 29: Whose Fault Was It?
This begs the question: Who is responsible for pedestrian accidents like the one on West Roberts and Highway 29?
While drivers and pedestrians in Florida may have the responsibility to obey traffic laws and traverse roads carefully, Florida municipalities also have the responsibility to provide secure and safe areas for drivers and pedestrians.
Here’s what you need to know about premises liability cases involving state and local governments if you are involved in an accident.
The Story of Sovereign Immunity
In the Constitution of the United States, the 11th Amendment protects states through an idea called sovereign immunity. Basically, it means that citizens cannot sue the government. That said, Florida is among many states that have waived sovereign immunity in many different situations.
When Florida Waives Its Right to Sovereign Immunity
Under the law in Florida, some state agencies and divisions of agencies have waived their right to sovereign immunity and can be sued. Examples of state agencies that can be sued include:
- State universities
- Corporations acting as state agencies
Caveat on Florida Personal Injury Suits
One of the types of lawsuits that can be brought against the government is personal injury suits, including any sustained due to traffic accidents caused by mismanagement of roads and intersections. One caveat is that the state cannot be sued for policy-making decisions.
If there is no stop sign on a road, for example, you cannot sue if there is an accident there and maintain in the suit that there should be one.
However, if they install a stop sign and it is put in wrong or not maintained, or in and of itself causes harm through creating dangerous situations, then a liability claim can be pursued.
When Floridians Can Sue a Municipality
You can sue a municipality for a personal injury under these conditions:
- Injuries sustained are caused by negligence (the plaintiff must prove it in court)
- There are actual losses that can be compensated by damages
- A Florida court would find a private party in the same situation as the government liable
Tips to Stay Safe When Walking in Florida
Even if you encounter a situation where the city or state has created an unsafe situation, you should still do your best to maintain your own safety. This means you should:
- Cross at traffic signals when possible and at crosswalks
- Always look each way before crossing the street
- Wear reflective clothing or bright colors so you are visible to drivers
- Carry a flashlight when you plan to walk in the dark
- Use the sidewalk when possible
- Avoid using substances that can impair your ability to walk safely
- Use extreme caution when crossing parking lots, parking garages, or driveways
- Supervise children at all street crossings
While it may sometimes be a challenge to stay safe, it’s always preferable to needing to file a premises liability suit against the government. However, it’s good to know that options exist should you need one.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.