What Are the Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?Request Free Consultation
Even with clearly marked crosswalks and traffic signals, cars still, unfortunately, crash into pedestrians. Every year, pedestrians suffer serious—even fatal—injuries due to vehicular incidents. While many factors contribute to these unfortunate scenarios, negligence causes many of them. After such accidents, you must understand what contributed to your accident and how proficient pedestrian accident lawyers can assist you.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, pedestrian deaths resulting from motor vehicle collisions have increased by 80 percent in slightly more than a decade, with more than 7,300 pedestrians in fatal accidents on U.S. roads each year.
Pedestrian accidents also cause thousands of non-fatal accidental injuries, with the most severe injuries due to contact between pedestrians and vehicle bumpers, hoods, and windshields.
Pedestrian accidents can occur for numerous reasons, with many causes relating to negligent driving practices. Some of the most common forms of driver negligence that can cause serious injuries or fatalities among pedestrians are as follows:
Whether a driver is texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, or becoming distracted by the conversation within their vehicle, such scenarios can lead to severe accidents. Any action that diverts a driver’s attention from the road is a distraction, it is not limited to only technological use.
Speeding is another common cause of pedestrian accidents. Drivers who exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for the prevailing conditions pose a significant risk to pedestrians.
The faster a vehicle moves, the less time the driver has to react to unexpected situations, such as a pedestrian crossing the road. When pedestrians wonder whether a sufficient traffic gap will allow them to cross a road outside of an intersection or crosswalk, they are likely to believe they have more time than they actually do if a vehicle is moving faster than expected.
Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
Another frequent cause of pedestrian accidents is drivers failing to yield the right-of-way at crosswalks and intersections. Pedestrians usually have priority in these situations. Some drivers neglect this rule, leading to unfortunate incidents.
Even when pedestrians do not have the right-of-way and an accident occurs, they can hold a driver liable if they breached their legal duty of care. A duty of care refers to the responsibility to take reasonable actions to avoid harming others in a given set of circumstances. Reasonable actions that could shield a driver from liability include swerving to avoid hitting a pedestrian or slowing down when a pedestrian enters the roadway outside the crosswalk.
Lack of Visibility
Conditions that result in poor visibility are frequently responsible for pedestrian accidents. These could include low lighting, adverse weather, or poorly lit streets. Drivers should adjust their driving to fit these conditions, and failure to do so can result in accidents.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a severe crime and a common cause of pedestrian accidents. Intoxicated drivers have impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and limited coordination, all of which increase the likelihood of accidents.
Roadway construction work zones frequently confuse drivers, as they can involve changes in road configurations, alternating use of a single lane, and proximity to people and equipment.
According to the National Safety Council, more than 42,000 people suffered injuries and nearly 1,000 died in a single year in the US from accidents in work zones. Vehicles moving through work zones cause the deaths of around 55 worker-pedestrians a year.
Pedestrian Accidents and Children
The Children’s Safety Network reports that more than 67,000 child pedestrians sustain injuries annually in the United States. Pedestrian accidents account for 36 percent of the deaths of children under 16 that occur between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Those at most risk of injury in a vehicle accident are pedestrians between the ages of 15 to 19. Two-thirds of the victims in child pedestrian accidents are boys, and the risk of a child suffering injury or dying as a pedestrian is higher in dense, low-income, urban residential areas.
Drivers have an increased duty of care in comparison to pedestrians. The reason for this is that drivers have protection from being in an enclosed vehicle that features seat belts and airbags and that can move at much higher speeds than a person on foot.
Drivers have even more responsibility to exercise extreme caution in areas where children might be present, such as school zones. If drivers fail to exercise this degree of care, you can hold them liable for any injuries.
Pedestrian accidents involving children can be particularly traumatic and carry specific legal considerations. Children under 18 are generally not eligible to enter into legal contracts, meaning they cannot hire an attorney or accept a settlement agreement on their own. Many states toll the statute of limitations to allow a child the time they need to reach the age of accountability and choose to file a claim.
There is also, however, the option of a parent or legal guardian seeking compensation on behalf of the child. If your child sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident, an experienced lawyer can explain your legal options for seeking compensation.
The Role of a Lawyer in Your Pedestrian Accident Case
Following a pedestrian accident, a personal injury lawyer can become your advocate, advisor, and guide during this challenging time. This is true whether distracted driving, speeding, failure to yield the right-of-way, lack of visibility, intoxicated driving, or other form of negligent driving caused the accident. Your lawyer can employ their knowledge to navigate through the complexities of your specific case.
Collecting and Examining Evidence
The core aspects of any pedestrian accident case are collecting and examining evidence.
These processes establish the facts of a case and prove negligence on the other party’s part. Evidence can range from photographs and videos of the scene to witness testimonials, police reports, and documentation of your injuries and treatment.
Your personal injury lawyer plays a key role in this process. They will handle the collection of evidence and the meticulous task of examining it. You will need their ability to interpret this evidence, draw connections, and present a compelling narrative of events.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
After a pedestrian accident, insurance companies can make claims complex and stressful. Insurance companies are for-profit entities and want to minimize the payouts on claims.
Your lawyer can address the potential pitfalls and handle any exchanges with the insurance companies on your behalf. They can negotiate with insurance adjusters, challenge any unfair settlement offers, and fight for a claim that truly covers your losses. Having a lawyer to advocate for you can significantly enhance your ability to secure a fair and just settlement.
Filing a Lawsuit if Necessary
At times, achieving fair compensation may require taking a case to court. If negotiations with the insurance company fail to result in a satisfactory settlement, your lawyer may advise filing a lawsuit.
This involves adhering to complex laws and procedures, so your lawyer’s experience becomes crucial. Your lawyer can guide you through the process, file all the necessary documents, and ensure adherence to all the relevant laws and regulations. This helps preserve your legal rights and optimizes your chances of securing a favorable judgment.
Representing You in Court
Settlement offers can occur at any time during the claims process, including after you have filed a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit often becomes the catalyst for more productive settlement negotiations because the insurer no longer has any doubt that, if they fail to resolve the claim on their own, they will incur the time, expenses, and uncertainty of a trial.
If your case proceeds to court, your lawyer will take on the role of your legal representative. From crafting compelling legal arguments to presenting your case before a judge and jury, they will work tirelessly to fight for your rights and interests.
Your lawyer’s representation in the courtroom is not just about their legal knowledge but also their understanding of court processes, courtroom etiquette, and persuasive tactics.
Understanding and Preparing for Deposition
Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute explains that a deposition is an important pre-trial procedure where you give sworn evidence to the opposing party’s lawyer. It allows both sides to gather information about the case. Preparation is key to a successful deposition. Your lawyer can prepare you for this part of the legal process.
Preparing for Trial: Jury Selection, Opening Statements, and Examination of Witnesses
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will help select an impartial jury, deliver compelling opening statements, and meticulously examine witnesses to establish the facts of the case. They will build a solid foundation for your claim and work diligently to present your case most effectively.
Navigating Post-Trial Procedures and Appeals
After a verdict, you may need to consider post-trial motions and, potentially, an appeal, if the outcome is not in your favor. Your lawyer can advise on the prospects of an appeal and navigate the complex appellate procedure, if necessary.
Ensuring Your Legal Options Remain Open
Every jurisdiction has specific laws setting a statute of limitations. As Investopedia explains, the statute of limitations is the maximum time that parties in a legal dispute have to file a lawsuit in court after an accident. Failure to meet this deadline generally results in the court refusing to hear your case and also releases the insurance company from the legal obligation of resolving the claim.
The statute of limitations can vary from state to state, and your circumstances may extend or shorten this period. The International Risk Management Institute explains that a common reason for extending a statute of limitations is when a child has suffered injuries, as children cannot file claims until they reach 18 years old. Contact a lawyer promptly to ensure a court does not potentially bar your lawsuit due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
The Legal Information Institute explains that damages refer to the compensation you may recover in a personal injury case. They may include medical expenses, such as future medical costs for ongoing treatment, loss of income for time off work, and compensation for damaged property. You can seek damages for the pain and suffering or emotional distress that the accident caused, as well as for the impact your injury has had on your quality of life.
After your condition has stabilized and there is a better understanding of the permanence of your injuries, your lawyer will value your claim based on several factors. These include the amount of insurance coverage available to compensate the claim and the presence of permanent injuries that may cause the loss of future earning capacity. The claim’s value must also account for additional medical treatment and other long-term implications.
Payment for an Attorney’s Services
Having an attorney handle your pedestrian accident claim is important to its success. Many people fail to hire an attorney because they do not think they can afford one.
Pedestrian accident lawyers can provide their services without any upfront investment and without billing you by the hour through a contingent fee agreement. With this billing method, payment for your lawyer’s services is contingent on successfully resolving your claim. If you do not receive compensation for your claim, your attorney does not receive payment. If you receive compensation, however, your attorney receives a percentage of the total overall award for their efforts.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can explain this billing method to you in further detail and answer any questions you have about your case during a free case evaluation.