Fatal Bus Accident Highlights Dangers of Boca Raton Crosswalks

WPTV reported that a 94-year-old Shirley Goldberg was struck by a bus in Boca Raton on August 18, 2021. Sadly, Ms. Goldberg died from her injuries after being taken to the Delray Beach Medical Center. The bus driver was not injured in the traffic accident. 

The pedestrian accident occurred near the Publix Plaza on Glades Road in the 9800 block. According to law enforcement officials, the bus exited the Publix Plaza and struck Ms. Goldberg as she was crossing the road at a crosswalk.

Pedestrian Crashes are Common in Palm Beach County

In 2020, there were 485 pedestrian crashes in Palm Beach County. Those crashes resulted in 44 pedestrian deaths and 406 injuries. Statewide in 2019, there were 9,736 pedestrian accidents, including 734 fatalities.

The county figures for 2020 were slightly lower than the 2019 figures. In 2019, there were 633 pedestrian crashes, resulting in 42 deaths and 542 injuries.

Florida Laws Regarding Crosswalks

Pedestrians have the right of way when in a crosswalk. Florida pedestrian laws require that drivers stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk with a walk signal. If there are no traffic signals or signs, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians at a crosswalk. 

However, pedestrians do not always have the right of way at a crosswalk. Pedestrians must use tunnels or overhead crosswalks when these walkways exist. Furthermore, pedestrians must follow all traffic and pedestrian signals. 

Running into traffic is prohibited. Also, pedestrians must yield to traffic that is in the crosswalk. Pedestrians have a duty to check for traffic before entering a crosswalk. 

Drivers are under a duty of care to avoid colliding with pedestrians at all times. In addition, the law states that special care should be used when children or incapacitated persons are present. 

Pedestrian Accidents are Deadly

Pedestrian deaths continue to increase. The GHSA estimates a 4.8% increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2020. This increase is despite reduced driving because of the pandemic. 

The number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents increased by 46 percent from 2010 through 2019. However, all other traffic deaths increased by just five percent during the same period. 

Larger vehicles, including SUVs, buses, and trucks, account for some of the increase in pedestrian deaths. Drivers may not be able to see pedestrians in crosswalks as clearly. Also, pedestrians hit by large vehicles have a higher risk of sustaining life-threatening injuries compared to pedestrians struck by smaller passenger vehicles.

Crosswalks Do Not Protect Pedestrians from Injuries

Motorists continue to ignore the laws regarding crosswalks. A crosswalk does not protect a pedestrian from a distracted, speeding, or intoxicated driver. When a car hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the pedestrian has no protection from the impact of the collision.

Drivers do not typically sustain severe injuries in pedestrian accidents. However, pedestrians may sustain a variety of injuries in a crosswalk accident, including:

Many pedestrians have permanent disabilities because of their injuries. Some individuals may never be able to walk again. They may need assistance caring for themselves and may not be able to work.

In the worst cases, the pedestrian may die from the injuries caused by the accident. In these cases, the family can file a wrongful death claim.

Holding Drivers Responsible for Crosswalk Accidents

If a driver hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the driver could be held financially liable for injuries. 

The pedestrian could receive compensation for different types of damages, such as:

  • The cost of medical treatment and care for injuries
  • The cost of nursing care and personal care
  • Lost wages, benefits, salaries, and other forms of income
  • Decreases in future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering damages, including mental, emotional, and physical suffering
  • Reduced quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disabilities, impairments, and disfigurement
  • The cost of modifications to the home and vehicle because of a disabling condition

Insurance companies may try to blame pedestrians for the cause of the accident. If this happens to you, it is best to seek legal advice immediately from a pedestrian accident lawyer. Your compensation could be reduced if you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident. 

Understanding your legal rights is the best way to increase your chance of receiving full compensation for your injuries and damages. 

Take Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Children

Pedestrians need to understand traffic laws regarding crosswalks and rights-of-ways. There are also safety tips you can use to reduce your risk of a pedestrian accident.

The FLHSMV has a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety page with information about protecting yourself from pedestrian injuries. The NHTSA also has resources for pedestrian safety on its website. In addition, Safe Kids Worldwide has information about how to teach kids to walk safely.