What Are the Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
Pedestrian accidents are common nationwide, and a person’s life can change forever if a vehicle hits them. What makes them so harrowing is the size and weight difference between a person and a vehicle, and a collision can cause severe and life-altering injuries.
The cause of a pedestrian accident determines an injured pedestrian’s legal rights. After an accident, anyone injured needs to speak to a local pedestrian accident lawyer who can assess their situation and options.
Who is considered a pedestrian?
As you might imagine, anyone who is walking is a pedestrian; however, other people also fall into this category.
Essentially, anyone using the walkways or roadways outside a vehicle is considered a pedestrian, and some of these parties include:
- Joggers, runners, or walkers
- Segway riders
- Roller skaters
Where pedestrian accidents happen most often
Walkability and ease of access can be high depending on where you are. In these high-traffic areas, it is common to see people opting out of using vehicles to get around. Pedestrians are especially frequent in tourist and beach areas.
Outside of these places, pedestrian accidents typically happen in:
- School zones
- Urban locations
- Outside intersections
- At night
- Parking lots
- College campuses
While the National Safety Council states these as the most prevalent, a pedestrian accident can happen anywhere and occur at any time of day. The location and time can be evidence in your injury claim for pedestrian accident, so you must provide all of this information to your attorney.
Drivers have many instances that constitute negligence. Sometimes, they are reckless and do not look for pedestrians or others, and may disobey traffic laws and cause a hazard to others.
Recklessness near crosswalks is especially dangerous to pedestrians, and drivers who ignore traffic signs and signals are causing extreme danger to others. Driver negligence is an umbrella term that can cover many careless driver actions.
Several situations can cause poor visibility. One instance is terrible weather, making it challenging for drivers to see what is in front of them. Drivers must slow down and drive extra cautiously when slippery roads or heavy rain occur, and failing to do so can lead to pedestrian accidents.
Other circumstances that can cause poor visibility include:
- Poor headlights on the vehicle
- Objects on the road
- Inadequate street lights
- Night time driving
- Bright lights shining in the driver’s eyes
In some instances, when bad driving in poor visibility causes the accident, you can hold other parties liable. The driver is likely the primary party at fault, though a city or road crew may contribute to the poor visibility. Your pedestrian accident lawyer can review the circumstances and find other relevant parties.
Sometimes, a government agency contributes to a dangerous condition, and roadway defects are common in pedestrian accidents. For example, a driver might attempt to avoid a construction zone or pothole and strike pedestrians. These road conditions can also cause other hazardous situations for pedestrians.
Improper vehicle maintenance
While roadway maintenance is the responsibility of government agencies, vehicle maintenance is the driver’s. Sometimes, faulty brakes or other maintenance issues cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Vehicle owners must keep their cars road-ready.
When a car exceeds the speed limit, the driver needs more space to stop or slow down, and they often do not have enough time to react to pedestrians and other vehicles. Speeding can also result in more severe injuries.
Sometimes, drivers do not realize they have struck someone and think they have run over some debris. Their rate of speed makes them unaware of serious accidents.
Failure to slow in school zones
Aside from following the posted speed limits, drivers must also slow down in school zones. Children are highly susceptible to injuries when walking home or meeting their pick-up person. Street signs warn drivers when and to what speed to slow down, and there are also crossing guards and police officers in these areas to guide traffic.
Stop signs are put in place for a reason, and a vehicle must completely stop before proceeding. Sometimes, motorists will make a rolling stop. When a driver does not come to a full stop, they might not see a nearby pedestrian, which can lead to them striking and injuring the pedestrian.
Failure to yield
When drivers approach a crosswalk, they must yield to pedestrians with the right of way. There are signals to communicate to drivers what actions they should take. When drivers do not pay attention, they risk hitting pedestrians as they turn left. Motorists must allow pedestrians to cross when the signal indicates it is their turn, and drivers can commit a traffic infraction when they fail to yield.
Drugs or alcohol can significantly impair a driver’s physical and cognitive abilities. Intoxicated drivers are a hazard to everyone, especially pedestrians.
When impaired drivers pass through a crosswalk, they can strike a pedestrian and even hit a group of pedestrians. You may have the right of way, but the driver is significantly affected by alcohol or drugs and does not process what is happening on the road in front of them.
Failing to signal
When a pedestrian enters a crosswalk, no cars should be entering. A pedestrian can have a signal that gives them the right of way when a driver decides to turn left. Drivers must signal their intentions and ensure the crosswalk is clear before they enter. The estimation is that nearly half of all drivers do not use turn signals when they should, and failing to signal is sufficient evidence to prove the driver’s fault.
Drivers are notorious for participating in distractions while driving. Daily occurrences that lead to accidents text, talk on the phone, or chat with passengers.
Aside from digital devices, drivers can reach over to grab something in the back, tend to children, eat or drink, etc. When people take their eyes off the road for a second, it can lead to severe consequences and injuries.
A driver’s duty of care
The above causes of pedestrian accidents have one thing in common: a driver’s negligence leads to injuries and damage to innocent pedestrians. Each situation comes down to a driver’s failure to maintain their legal duty of care. When drivers get a license and begin driving, they must take reasonable care on the road and are also responsible for following all traffic laws.
Reasonable care will vary depending on individual circumstances. It can alter depending on weather, traffic, pedestrian density, lighting conditions, etc. When drivers fail their duties, they can commit a traffic infraction and be at fault for an accident due to their negligence. The insurance company will also be keener to pay for your damages when their driver fails their duty of care.
Common injuries in pedestrian accidents
You can suffer many injuries if you are the victim of a pedestrian accident. While some wounds can heal with minimally invasive medical treatment, others can take months or years to heal.
Some injuries you may suffer include:
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Tissue damage
- Spinal cord damage
- Cuts and bruises
- Eye injuries
According to the CDC, nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic accidents, with over 137,000 suffering injuries over the past year. You are at a greater risk for injury or death as a pedestrian, yet you did nothing to cause this accident but now suffer the consequences.
Pedestrians have no external protection against the full force of a vehicle. Negligent drivers must be held financially responsible for their actions, and you must speak to a pedestrian accident attorney to seek justice and compensation.
You may recover compensation
If you suffered an injury in a pedestrian accident, you can recover compensation from the at-fault party. You can file a car accident claim or lawsuit to demand payment for your losses, and your settlement will depend on the hardships you suffer, including emotional distress, physical pain, and financial losses.
Some compensable damages you can pursue include:
- Income loss: Your injuries can take weeks, months, or years to heal. Some injuries require you to take time off work, while other permanent injuries need a total career change or job loss. Whether you take paid or unpaid time off work, your compensation claim must consider reimbursement for these losses. The at-fault party should pay for your lost income and benefits. If you cannot work, you can claim reduced earning capacity.
- Medical expenses: Depending on your injury, you might need emergency medical care, prescription medications, or surgeries. You can also require ongoing care for severe injuries. A pedestrian accident attorney can estimate future medical expenses and your anticipated expenses.
- Property damage: You can request reimbursement for any property damage you suffer from a negligent driver. These usually have receipts or estimates of repairs.
- Pain and suffering: This compensation category typically includes emotional and physical pain. It often comes into play when long-term injuries lead to chronic pain. It also includes non-economic damages like permanent disability, psychological trauma, disfigurement, diminished quality of life, etc.
While these are some of the most common categories of compensation, others can apply to your claim. A pedestrian accident lawyer will assess your damages and get the maximum settlement.
How a pedestrian accident lawyer near you can help
Many pedestrians assume that the insurance company will handle their claims reasonably. After all, the driver is at fault and must answer for their actions. A personal injury lawyer will manage your case while you focus on healing. Take time to recover from your personal injuries without the added stress of insurance paperwork.
Some of the tasks your lawyer will work on include:
- Investigate liability
- Retrieve evidence that proves fault, liability, and damages
- Handle communications between you and the insurance company, opposing counsel, and other relevant third parties
- Negotiate a settlement for your losses
- Prepare the claim for litigation and trial
- Answer questions about your claim
- Ensure you get the medical attention you require.
A pedestrian accident lawyer can handle a plethora of other tasks. You can learn more about your lawyer’s services during an initial consultation, where they can discuss what you can expect throughout your claim and your involvement in the process.
Speak to a pedestrian accident lawyer near you
After a pedestrian accident, you can suffer from life-altering injuries, and it is vital to have legal representation throughout this process.
A local pedestrian accident attorney will work to ensure you get the medical attention you need. A pedestrian accident lawyer will also fight for the maximum compensation possible for your losses.
Ask a local personal injury law firm‘s attorney to negotiate with the insurance company for monetary recovery.