For the last recorded year (2011), according to the National Highway Safety Administration, pedestrians were the only road users to experience an increase in fatalities in the United States, totaling 4,432 deaths. Deaths were highest for children and for older Americans. In addition, another 69,000 pedestrians were injured. 11,000 of those injured were age 14 and younger. Males accounted for 65% (7,000) of the injured.
The use of cell phones is also playing an increasing role in pedestrian accidents and deaths. Drivers aren’t the only people getting distracted. How often have you seen a pedestrian crossing a busy street while looking at their smartphone or using headphones so they can’t hear the traffic and activities happening around them? It’s all too common. A pedestrian must exercise care for his or her own safety. What’s called “contributory negligence” may be levied against a pedestrian if he/she fails to exercise care and contributes to the cause of his/her own injuries. Other ways that pedestrian can be at fault include: ignoring the “walk” signal at an intersection; entering traffic and disrupting the flow, or darting in front of a vehicle.
Usually however, in cases involving a pedestrian being struck by car, the driver of the vehicle will be held liable. Pedestrians, in general, should possess the right of way at crosswalks. In theory, crosswalks should be the safest places for pedestrians to cross the street. However, even designated crosswalk areas can be hazardous when one car slows or stops to yield to a pedestrian.
There are many potentially dangerous scenarios. The driver of the car behind the slowing vehicle may not consider that there may be a pedestrian in the street and may decide to swerve around the slow or stopped car, and end up striking the pedestrian. Alternatively, an accident can occur in a crosswalk when a car rushes through an intersection to make a light, or to make a left-hand turn without first checking whether the crosswalk is clear.
A few of the main situations that contribute to driver negligence include:
– Speeding or distracted driving
– Failing to signal when turning
– Disobeying traffic signs or running a red light
– Not accounting for weather or traffic conditions
– Driving after drinking or drugging
Injury by cars is not the only way that pedestrians get hurt. “Non-vehicular pedestrian accidents” often happen where there’s been poor property maintenance. Sidewalk or parking lots can be defective and cause accidents, or pedestrians may get injured due to construction or debris on walkways and in other public areas.
Whether you’re injured by a vehicle or property defect, as a pedestrian, you may recover damages for your injuries if another person’s negligence caused or contributed to the incident. The injured person’s attorney must prove that the other party failed to fulfill their “legal duty,” causing the harm. Some cases are not so clear cut. When a pedestrian is injured, there may be more than one person responsible. That’s why you need an experienced attorney to handle your case.
We can walk you through the next steps you should take. In the case of a pedestrian accident, it’s important to seek counsel early. We can provide you with a free evaluation of your claim.