Bagen Law Firm | May 18, 2023 | Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents have many causes, and some areas of traffic are more prone to these types of accidents. Unfortunately, they happen far too often and result from preventable actions such as reckless, impaired, or distracted driving.
If you have injuries from a recent pedestrian accident, you should know you have legal rights, including the right to compensation. Secure your rights by speaking with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after learning about your injuries.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Most pedestrian accidents involve driver negligence. Common causes of U.S. pedestrian accidents are:
Drivers who are texting or talking on cell phones not only put other motorists at risk but pedestrians as well. It’s never been easier to become distracted while behind the wheel. Distractions abound with cell phones, apps, state-of-the-art sound systems, and even other passengers, children, or pets.
When drivers don’t ignore potential distractions, they often take their thoughts and eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel, significantly increasing the risk of an accident. When they see a pedestrian, it’s far too late to stop on time, if they even see them before they hit them.
All it takes to cause an accident is a second or two of looking down at the phone. In fact, it’s not only negligent and risky; it’s illegal.
Many states have hands-free laws prohibiting drivers of motor vehicles from:
- Holding or supporting, with any body part, a wireless telecommunications or stand-alone electronic device.
- Participating in any text-based communication, including instant messaging, text messaging, emailing, or internet data use.
- Watching, recording, or broadcasting a movie or video.
Everyone knows that impaired driving, either from alcohol or drugs, is dangerous. It is especially risky when pedestrians are around. Impaired drivers often drive through crosswalks disregarding the traffic signals or make left turns directly into a group of pedestrians, causing an accident and potentially injuring several people.
Most states have DUI laws making it illegal to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle:
- With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more (0.04 percent or more for commercial vehicle drivers and 0.02 percent or more if the driver is less than 21 years old)
- While under the influence of any alcohol, drug, or controlled substance
- With any level of marijuana or illegal drugs in your blood or urine
A motorist who is less safe to drive due to alcohol or drugs is under the influence. Generally, a driver may also face criminal charges of DUI with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more (a handful of states go by a 0.10 percent BAC), no matter their actual level of impairment.
Pedestrians generally have the right of way by state laws. Suppose a pedestrian doesn’t see a motor vehicle and begins to cross the street against the light. In that case, the pedestrian still has the right of way. Many pedestrian accidents result from impatient drivers who don’t watch out for pedestrians or try to drive around pedestrians in crosswalks.
Recklessness is one of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents. A driver who doesn’t look for pedestrians or adhere to traffic laws at crosswalks is a hazard to pedestrians. Speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, ignoring traffic lights and stop signs, and making illegal U-turns are all examples of reckless driving.
During bad weather, drivers should have increased alertness for pedestrians. They can be more challenging to see. If a road is wet, cars can hydroplane into crosswalks, making it impossible to avoid pedestrians. In the presence of bad weather and related poor road conditions, drivers must be extra cautious by reducing their speed and ensuring that they give the road their complete attention.
Everyone knows the inconveniences and frustrations road construction brings. They might not realize that road construction often forces pedestrians to walk in areas where they shouldn’t and where drivers don’t expect them to be.
Vehicles Making Left Turns
Some crosswalks have signals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean drivers will notice them. Pedestrians face a constant risk of being hit by vehicles turning left. Drivers tend to concentrate on busy intersections by looking straight ahead instead of to the left when they turn. If an unsuspecting pedestrian happens to be in the crosswalk at that time, the results can be disastrous.
Arterial roads are another danger to pedestrians. In these areas, drivers typically focus on what other drivers are doing, such as speeding, changing lanes, making unsafe lane changes, or tailgating. As a result, drivers aren’t looking out for pedestrians or even paying attention to traffic signals.
Faulty Motor Vehicles
Sometimes, a defective motor vehicle can lead to a pedestrian accident. Suppose a tire was faulty, causing the driver to experience a blowout, or if the brakes were inadequate and failed, resulting in a pedestrian accident. In that case, the injured party can hold the vehicle’s manufacturer or parts manufacturer liable with the help of a skilled pedestrian accident attorney.
Often, pedestrian accidents turn into “hit-and-run” accidents, particularly if the pedestrian appears to have suffered severe injuries and traffic is light. Drivers frequently panic after hitting a pedestrian. They know that even a slight impact from their vehicle can cause severe pedestrian injuries.
State laws mandate that the driver of a vehicle stay at the scene of the crash if they caused personal injuries to a pedestrian. If they don’t, it’s a hit-and-run accident, typically a felony in most states.
No matter what you think the cause is, having your pedestrian accident case reviewed by a reputable pedestrian accident lawyer is crucial. A lawyer can tell you if the driver was negligent and if you are entitled to compensation because of their actions.
What if an Accident Victim Didn’t Use a Crosswalk?
Sometimes pedestrians cross the street without using a crosswalk, wear dark clothing, or fail to adhere to traffic lights. However, these circumstances don’t necessarily mean that the victim doesn’t deserve or can’t receive compensation for their injuries.
They should meet with a knowledgeable pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Their attorney can build a case that helps them receive as much compensation as possible by challenging accusations they were to blame.
When to Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
After sustaining injuries in a pedestrian accident, you should contact a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. Taking action early on serves several purposes as follows:
The Statute of Limitations
Those who suffer a personal injury, such as pedestrians involved in an accident, have limited time to file a legal claim. Typically, the deadline, known as the statute of limitations, is around two years from the accident, depending on the laws of the state where the accident occurred. The sooner you contact a pedestrian accident attorney, the sooner they can get to work on your accident.
Keep in mind that if your accident involved a minor victim, a government entity, or your injuries weren’t discovered right away, your deadline can vary. To ensure you don’t miss whichever one applies to your claim, get the help of an attorney sooner rather than later.
Several pieces of valuable evidence will be critical to proving your case, including witness testimony, cars, pictures of injuries, and the accident scene. The evidence will be the most helpful when collected and secured as soon as possible. Witnesses’ memories can fade if you wait, and physical evidence can be lost or destroyed. With an attorney on your side from the start, you can ensure that your evidence will be in the best condition possible and that you won’t miss any.
Defending Against the Insurance Company
Another reason to hire a seasoned pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible is so that they can defend and protect you from the insurance company. It’s common for insurance adjusters to call injured victims within a few days of receiving their claim.
They may offer you a meager settlement, hoping that you will accept it before talking to an attorney and realizing what your injuries are worth. They might also ask you to provide a recorded statement in which they can twist what you say and use it to impact your claim negatively.
When you have legal representation, they will deal with the insurance company for you. If there is a reason for them or their attorneys to speak with you, your lawyer will be present, helping to protect you against their tactics.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to injuries in accidents. They don’t have the protection of safety devices and equipment like airbags, crumple zones, and seatbelts. They aren’t wearing helmets or other protective gear. It’s their body against the motor vehicle. Without this protection, severe and fatal injuries are common. Pedestrian accidents can cause:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A TBI occurs when an outside force, usually a violent blow to the head or body or sudden and forceful movement, causes brain damage. Some brain injuries are minor, such as a concussion, but others can have severe and life-long medical consequences. Seeking medical care as soon as possible can help decrease the chances of severe consequences.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
A spinal cord injury (SCI) can arise from a sudden and violent impact causing the spine to fracture or dislocated vertebrae. The spinal cord is a pathway for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Even a minor spinal cord injury can be life-changing.
Extreme physical force exerted on a bone stronger than the bone itself will cause it to break or fracture. Fractures are typically simple to treat with immobilization, physical therapy, and possibly surgery. Those who suffer from them can have lifelong pain and medical problems that can impact their well-being and quality of life.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries include lacerations, tears, bruises, dislocations, and sprains. While many soft tissue injuries will resolve independently with little medical intervention, they can result in substantial pain. They might prevent the injured individual from participating in everyday activities and going to work. Soft tissue injuries can also leave victims with scarring or other permanent issues that may influence their emotional well-being.
In some pedestrian accidents, the forces involved are severe enough that they lead to lifelong repercussions on the pedestrian’s body, such as the accidental amputation of limbs. Some injuries, such as severe crush injuries, may even require surgical amputation.
Not all injuries are seen or present after the accident. Even if a pedestrian doesn’t suffer permanent physical injuries, they might have lasting emotional trauma or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the accident. Being hit by a vehicle is a traumatic experience that prevents some pedestrians from coping with the emotional trauma it causes. Some may need counseling, psychotherapy, medications, and other treatments to help them overcome their mental and emotional trauma.
No matter what type of injuries you suffer in a pedestrian accident, you deserve compensation for them – not just for your medical bills and lost income but also for your pain and suffering. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help you seek the recovery you deserve.
Meet With a Skilled Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
Anyone involved in an accident should meet with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Suppose you or someone you love was the victim of a pedestrian accident. In that case, you need skilled negotiators and litigators who aren’t intimidated by large insurance companies and their legal counsel.
Remember that personal injury claims are subject to a strict statute of limitations that gives them limited time to bring a legal claim. The best way to protect your legal rights and options is to have legal representation immediately after suffering injuries in an accident.