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Assisting those injured or killed in crosswalk and pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help You Recover

If you were injured by a vehicle while crossing the street, walking on the sidewalk or along the side of the road, you may have the right to make a financial recovery from the responsible party. The pedestrian accident lawyers at TorkLaw can help you recover the damages to which you are entitled, so that you can recover physically, emotionally, and financially.

Pedestrian Accidents by the Numbers

Every year, between 4,000 and 6,000 pedestrians are killed in collisions on U.S. roads, accounting for between 10 and 15 percent of all traffic accident deaths. In 2017, 70,000 pedestrians were injured in the U.S.

Pedestrian accidents have the potential to cause death and catastrophic injury to the pedestrian, even when they involve a car traveling at low speeds: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that even cars traveling at less than 20 miles per hour can kill or seriously injure pedestrians. As speed increases, pedestrian accidents become exponentially more dangerous.

Chart on pedestrian death rate versus speed

Who Is Most at Risk for Pedestrian Accidents?

One of the worst things about pedestrian accidents is the fact that they tend to disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in society:

  • Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are the most likely to be hit by cars; boys are at a higher risk than girls.
  • Elderly people, while not significantly more likely to be hit by cars than other age groups, are the most likely to be killed or seriously injured in a pedestrian accident.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Causes of pedestrian accidents include driver inattentiveness, speeding, failure to yield the right of way, failure to obey traffic signals, and failure to signal a left or right turn. Alcohol is a particularly frequent factor: about half of all pedestrian accidents involve either an intoxicated driver or an intoxicated pedestrian.

Pedestrian accidents can occur anywhere and anytime; however, there are times and locations known to be particularly dangerous: more pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, whatever the season, and most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas, where there are higher concentrations of pedestrian traffic.

Types of Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Accidents on Roadways

In most jurisdictions, a crosswalk exists at every intersection, whether it is marked or not. Just like anyone else on the road, pedestrians have a duty to follow the rules of the road:

  • A person crossing the road at an intersection with traffic light signals must wait until a green light or walk signal to cross. Vehicles making right turns must wait for pedestrians to cross before proceeding.
  • If the intersection has a stop or yield sign, or is unmarked, drivers should always stop or yield to pedestrians until they reach the other side of the road without hindrance or injury.
  • When a pedestrian is crossing a roadway anyplace other than an intersection or marked crosswalk, the motorists have the right of way, and the pedestrian must yield.
  • When a pedestrian is crossing a roadway where they aren’t legally permitted to cross, it is considered jaywalking. If you were struck by a car while jaywalking, chances are that you would be found at least partially responsible for your own injuries.

Drivers have a greater duty of care to child pedestrians than they do to adults. Young children are not considered legally capable of being negligent, so drivers are expected to drive with particular care whenever children are present, or likely to be present, such as near schools and parks, even if none are immediately visible.

Pedestrian Accidents on Highways

Pedestrian accidents that occur on open highways are extremely rare, but almost always result in death or catastrophic injury to the pedestrian, simply because the cars are moving at such high speeds, and the drivers are, understandably, not on the lookout for pedestrians.

Some confused (or intoxicated) pedestrians walk onto a highway by mistake, but most are motor vehicle drivers or passengers who have left their vehicles after a collision or engine failure.

Unfortunately, in most cases involving a pedestrian accident on the highway, the pedestrian (or their loved ones) have little or no grounds to sue, because they were responsible for placing themselves at risk by walking on the highway. Never exit your vehicle on a highway, unless you have pulled well over to the shoulder or another safe area.

Pedestrian Accidents Not Involving Cars

Not all pedestrian accidents involve vehicles. In fact, the NHTSA’s 2012 National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors found that only 12% of pedestrian accidents, or around 1 in 8, involved a pedestrian being hit by a car.

Many of non-vehicular pedestrian accidents are trip and fall accidents: 24% of respondents reported tripping over an uneven sidewalk, and another 17% reported tripping in an unspecified way. Other common causes include falling over stones and stepping in holes, as well as accidents involving pets and wildlife. Usually, these accidents are less severe than those involving vehicles.

Not every non-vehicular pedestrian accident is grounds for a lawsuit, but since trip-and-fall accidents are the most common type of non-vehicular pedestrian accident, the party most likely to be held liable is the government agency responsible for maintaining the road or sidewalk where the accident occurred. When filing a lawsuit against a government agency, there are unique complications, such as statutes of limitations or sovereign immunity. To can prevail in a lawsuit against a government agency, legal representation is recommended.

How to Win a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit

To win a pedestrian accident lawsuit, you must demonstrate four items: duty, breach, harm, and causation. In other words, you must prove that:

  • The defendant had some duty to the plaintiff (for instance, to drive safely),
  • They breached this duty,
  • The plaintiff suffered actual harm, and
  • This harm was directly caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.

Typically, demonstrating that the defendant violated a traffic law or ordinance is enough to prove that the defendant committed negligence.

Damages in a Pedestrian Accident

As with other types of accidents, the types of damages you may collect in a pedestrian accident lawsuit are:

  • Economic damages, such as medical bills, damaged property, and lost wages;
  • Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering; and
  • Punitive damages, which are sometimes awarded by a jury for no other purpose than to punish an especially egregious offender.

Of course, the actual damages which you are eligible to collect will vary significantly based on the precise nature of your case and the quality of legal representation which you have.

Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accident Cases

The law recognizes that fault in a car accident is rarely clean-cut, and that the pedestrian may share some responsibility without bearing the full blame for the accident. In situations where fault is shared, the pedestrian may still receive damages, depending on the state. If allowed, these damages will be diminished according to the rule of comparative negligence, which is that if an injured party was partly at fault, s/he is eligible to collect damages at a decreased amount, depending on the degree of their own negligence.

For example, a jury may decide that the driver’s negligence was 80% of the reason the accident happened, and the pedestrian was negligent. In that case, the pedestrian would collect 80% of the damages to which s/he would otherwise have been entitled.

What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident

After a pedestrian accident, your first priority is your own safety. Get out of the road and to a safe place away from traffic. Call 911 and seek appropriate medical attention.

If you are able, exchange information with the driver who hit you, including name, contact and insurance information. This is required by law, and is also necessary if you wish to receive any damages for the accident.

Unfortunately, some drivers do choose to flee the scene of an accident. If this happens, try to record a detailed description of the hit-and-run vehicle as possible, including make, model, color, license plates, a description of the person driving, and any damage caused to the vehicle by the collision.

If you are in any condition to do so, then try to collect evidence at the scene of the accident, such as taking photos and talking to witnesses.

When the police will respond, they will write up a report on the accident. Order a copy of the accident report: TorkLaw will order your report for you for free.

How Insurance Works for Pedestrians

In terms of recovering damages, your first course of action should be to seek compensation from the other driver’s liability insurance. If the company tries to deny or minimize your claim, a personal injury lawyer may be necessary.

You may use your own medical insurance coverage to pay your healthcare bills, but afterwards, your insurance company will seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance through inter-insurance arbitration.

You may also seek compensation from your own auto insurance for damages above and beyond what your medical insurance covers. Even if you were walking rather than operating your motor vehicle at the time, your auto insurance bodily injury coverage can help pay your damages.

A minority of states, including New York, are no-fault insurance states. In these states, insurance companies are required to pay medical bills whenever anyone was injured in a crash, irrespective of who was at fault. TorkLaw‘s attorneys have extensive experience and a stellar track record of victory in handling pedestrian accident cases (including a verdict for over $26 million in a recent pedestrian accident).

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