In 2017, the United States recorded 5,977 pedestrian deaths in traffic accidents. This translates to one death in every 88 minutes. Further, approximately 137,000 pedestrians received emergency room treatment in the same year following road accidents. The chances of a pedestrian dying in a road accident are over 1.5 times compared to those of a vehicle passenger. More than 4,000 people lose their lives annually due to road accidents in the United States.
In California, compensation laws allow pedestrians to seek damages from the party responsible for the accident or injuries. If a pedestrian dies from the crash, the surviving family can seek compensation for their wrongful death from the liable party. The devastation and financial burden a pedestrian or their family faces following a traffic accident is significant. With The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, you can find assistance in pursuing your damages caused by accident.
Overview of Pedestrian Accidents and their Causes
A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that more than 70,000 pedestrians sustain injuries, and over 4,000 die each year following road accidents. These figures are a part of the number of road accidents occurring each year. Credible statistics indicate that only 11% of American travel on foot, yet more than 13% of road crashes cause pedestrians' death.
Sadly, most of these accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities are because of a few avoidable causes. Most pedestrian accidents are attributed to driver negligence, with a few of them being the pedestrian's fault. Most pedestrian knockdowns result from drivers that fail to take necessary safety precautions. This means that even when pedestrians obey the laws while crossing the roads, they are at risk of being knocked down by a negligent driver.
According to a 2017 accident report, persons aged 65 years or over contributed to 20% of pedestrian deaths and 10% in injuries. Further, children below the age of 15 constituted one pedestrian death in every five children using the road.
The specific reasons for pedestrian crashes keep changing with the advancement of technology. Accidents that result in significant injuries are as a result of drivers failing to obey various traffic rules. However, distracted driving contributes to more pedestrian accidents with texting while driving is one of the significant causes.
When drivers are distracted, intoxicated, or overspeeding, they could cause gruesome pedestrian accidents. Some of the prevalent reasons for pedestrian crashes include:
Most people think distracted driving is a new hazard with the increased use of GPS units, cell phones, or Wi-Fi in the car. But, distracted driving has been there for decades and continues to cause pedestrian accidents. Before everyone had access to a cell phone, other forms of distractions existed that caused pedestrian accidents.
Distractions cause the driver to divide their attention on the road with another thing. Some reasons a driver can get distracted include eating as they drive, distractions from their passengers, surrounding traffic, switching radio channels, or texting. When a driver is doing this, among other things, their attention is divided, resulting in significant traffic accidents.
According to the NHTSA, distractions on the roads are on the increase. Distracted driving attributes 10% of fatalities in road accidents and 15% of the injuries sustained, based on a 2015 report. This has resulted in legislature passing laws that would help in minimizing distracted driving and its impact.
California is strict on distracted driving, with four laws that prohibit distraction on the road. The state makes it unlawful to use handheld cell phones while driving. Drivers below 18 years are also prohibited from driving while using handheld phones or even hands-free gadgets like Bluetooth headsets. Texting while driving is also prohibited under distraction laws. If a driver is caught violating these laws, the offense is a primary one with punishments that include earning points in your driving record and fines.
Driving at High Speeds
The commonest contributor to accidents in America is speeding. When you drive at an increased speed, you increase your chances of having an accident. A study by the University of California stated a 1% increment in speed resulted in a 2% increase in an accident possibility.
If you are walking or crossing the road and a speeding driver suddenly appears, they cannot reduce their speed in good time to avoid hitting you. The study further indicated that when a driver over speeds, they increase their chances of causing significant injuries by 3% and death by 4%.
Failing to Give Pedestrians Way
Pedestrians generally cross the road from marked and sometimes unmarked crosswalks. A driver is expected to give way to a pedestrian in such places because they owe them a duty of care. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to yield pedestrians, resulting in significant accidents that cause deaths and injuries. In California, 20% of traffic accidents cause fatalities and injuries due to drivers’ negligence.
Pedestrian traffic laws indicate that pedestrians have the right of way, whether at marked or unmarked crosswalks. Some drivers assume this right applies only at crossing lights, but this is not so. When taking a left turn, drivers often focus on checking for oncoming traffic and fail to notice pedestrians crossing. As a result, they end up knocking them down, which results in injuries or death.
Disregarding Traffic Signs
Traffic signs are put up for the safety of both the motorist and pedestrian. Unfortunately, reckless drivers run through stop signs or lights and result in pedestrian accidents. 17% of intersection accidents are as a result of drivers failing to obey a stop sign. When drivers do this, they often fail to notice pedestrians or disregard their duty of giving way. At intersections managed by stop signs, more than 70% of accidents occur due to disregarding traffic rules. Unfortunately, many of these accidents involve pedestrians that may end up dead or severely injured.
Motorists Failure to Signal as they Turn
Pedestrians also must protect themselves from accidents, and this is included in the traffic laws of California. For instance, ensuring you as a pedestrian are safe, you must use crosswalks while crossing the road or walking in certain areas depending on the traffic flow. Pedestrians, just like motorists, must obey traffic rules to stay safe from accidents.
One obligation a pedestrian has is yielding way to vehicles taking a turn. However, a pedestrian can only know a vehicle intends to turn when it signals its intention. Unfortunately, a 2012 study showed that over 50% of Americans fail to use signals indicating their need to turn. When you turn into a crosswalk, you assume it is safe, but the driver intended to turn. This, in most cases, results in a knockdown that leaves you with substantial injuries or death.
Driving Under the Influence
A report by the Highway Loss Data Institute indicates that 13% of pedestrian crashes result from intoxicated drivers. When a driver has consumed alcohol, even without reaching the legal limit, their ability to operate a vehicle safely is compromised. DUI laws in California are stringent on intoxicated driving to avoid the destruction caused by such behavior.
Another report indicates that about 47% of accidents resulting in pedestrian deaths resulted from intoxication. Intoxication can be either by the pedestrian or the driver. The report further indicates that for every three pedestrian accidents resulting in death, the pedestrian was intoxicated by alcohol. 17% of these fatal accidents also involved drunk drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or more.
Darkness in the night decreases the vision of a driver. Pedestrians walking along the road without reflective clothing are hard to spot. As a result, motorists can knock them down, not because they were negligent, but they could not see them. Pedestrians walking along the highways at night are encouraged to exercise caution and wear reflective clothing to avoid accidents.
Bad weather is a common cause of accidents. Heavy rainfall or storms often blur the vision of a driver and even the pedestrian. Bad weather can cause a pedestrian not to see an oncoming motorist or underestimate their distance, just like a motorist would. During times of unpleasant weather, pedestrians are encouraged to avoid walking along the highway instead of using sidewalks.
Drivers automatically are expected to look towards the direction they are driving. As a driver backs-up, they are expected to look back. However, pedestrians assume this always happens and think the driver will see them and stop. Drivers often use rearview mirrors to look back, yet they do not provide a full view. Pedestrians must always remain cautious and not assume the drivers see them. A driver can unintentionally run into a pedestrian because the rearview mirror did not show them.
General Pedestrian Accident Statistics
Governors Highway Administration (GHSA) reported that 6,590 pedestrians died in 2019. This report indicates an increase in pedestrian fatalities with 60% compared to 2009. These increasing numbers in pedestrian deaths have triggered Vision Zero programs aimed at reducing to zero pedestrian fatalities. The GHSA further noted that pedestrian deaths had increased by 5% in 2019, compared to 2018. Since 1988, the highest number of pedestrian deaths in America was recorded in 2019. As a result, it is concluded that for every 100,000 people, two die from pedestrian accidents.
Though the GHSA does not make predictions for each state, available data indicates that Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia accounted for 47% of all pedestrian deaths in America. These deaths are alarming, considering that these states' combined population attributes 33% of the country's population.
Between 1988 and 2008, there had been a steady decrease in pedestrian accidents in America. Unfortunately, from 2009, consistent growth in pedestrian fatalities is reported. As of 2018, pedestrian deaths had increased by 53% from 2009. Based on this, the GHSA estimated that by the end of 2019, pedestrian deaths would have increased by 60%.
The increasing population and the number of people using or owning vehicles could further increase the number of accidents. Equally, the number of pedestrian accidents resulting in injuries and death is also likely to increase.
The NHTSA further reports that in 2018, urban settings accounted for over 79% of pedestrian deaths. Of these accidents, 74% of them occurred on open roads, with 25% occurring at intersections. While comparing the prevalence of pedestrian accidents with the time of the day, most fatal pedestrian accidents accounting for 76%, occurred at night. The trend of accidents on weekdays and weekends was also studied. Most accidents occurred on Saturday, with an average of 1,031 deaths, with most of them happening at night.
Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
The forceful impact of a vehicle when a pedestrian is hit is felt directly to their body. As a result, pedestrians suffer some of the most significant injuries when knocked down. Some of the common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries – A pedestrian can be hit on the head by a vehicle or by the ground when knocked down. The forceful impact on their heads is often traumatic, leaving them with significant injuries that may require extended treatment or leave them in vegetative states.
- Internal injuries – Unlike apparent physical injuries, internal injuries are only detectable in a hospital after a comprehensive exam. A pedestrian can suffer injuries to their internal organs, causing bleeding in the brain or liver or injuries to the kidneys, among others. These injuries untreated can result in fatalities or extensive damage to their bodies.
- Spinal cord injury – An injury to the spinal cord can be catastrophic, with most of them hurting the central nervous system. Injuries to the spinal cord often lead to full or partial paralysis to the victim.
- Broken bones or fractures – Pedestrian accidents also result in breaking of bones or their fracture. A victim can have their legs, ribs, or collarbone broken following a knockdown.
- Death – Unfortunately, death is common in pedestrian accidents as the statistics show. A pedestrian can die on the spot from the injuries or later due to complications from the injuries sustained.
What You should do if Involved in a Pedestrian Accident
According to the statistics discussed above, most people have been involved in a pedestrian accident or know a person involved in one. Knowing what to do following a pedestrian knockdown is critical to your recovery and receiving your damages.
California is a fault state, as well as a comparative negligence rule state. This means the entity responsible for an accident must bear all the costs the victim suffers. If you are involved in an accident, or a loved one is, the entity responsible for the knockdown must be established first before damages are sought.
If you are knocked down and can call for help, it is critical to your recovery. As you wait for help, you will need to gather any evidence that will help your case if you can. For instance, using a smartphone, take pictures of the accident scene, and the vehicle that has knocked you down. Additionally, talk to the driver to collect critical information that includes their name and insurance provider. As you collect this information, be sure to share your details as well. Going to the hospital immediately following the accident is essential to your healing.
Once at the hospital, you must describe anything you are experiencing in detail, aside from the visible physical injuries. Your doctor will treat you and run tests where necessary. If surgical or other medical procedures are required, they must be carried out to enhance your recovery.
While at the hospital and have stabilized, you must find a personal injury lawyer to pursue your damages. In most cases, the insurance adjuster from the driver's insurance company can call you with a settlement offer. No matter how tempting the offer may seem or how innocent the interview may be, avoid engaging with them or accepting the offer. Instead, refer the insurance adjuster to your attorney.
Pursuing Damages in a Pedestrian Accident
As earlier stated, victims of pedestrian accidents are entitled to receive compensation for the losses they incur due to them. Most pedestrian accidents are rightfully blamed on the driver, although sometimes a pedestrian can be partially liable for the accident.
When the police come to the accident scene, one of their duties is to establish the crash cause. A BAC test is carried out on both the pedestrian and motorist to eliminate or determine if intoxication was a reason for the accident. The police then write a report of their findings, which is heavily relied upon by insurance providers.
If not satisfied by the police report, your lawyer can hire accident reconstruction experts to piece together what happened before and caused the accident. If the driver is found responsible for your injuries, your lawyer will raise a claim with their insurance provider. A detailed report of your treatment and future treatment, medication, and the cost is attached in the claim. If you have missed work due to the injuries or cannot work again, your income losses are compensable.
After receiving your claim application, the insurance adjuster will take some time to study it and get back to your attorney. The insurance company can accept the claim and pay for it according to the at-fault driver's coverage limit. On the other hand, the company may refuse it and instead give you a counteroffer. If the offer by the insurance company is acceptable, you can sign for it and get it.
Other times, the company can refuse the claim that you are partially to blame for the knockdown. In such a case, your lawyer can petition the court to get your damages paid by the insurance company. After receiving the petition, the court informs the insurance company, and a hearing date is set.
During the hearing, each side presents their argument and evidence on who is to blame for the accident. If you are found to have contributed to the accident, you will still receive damages according to your degree of fault.
Compensable Damages in Pedestrian Accidents
The injuries pedestrians sustain following a knockdown are often more severe than those sustained by passengers in a vehicle. Often, pedestrians sustain catastrophic or significant injuries, and sometimes death. The damages in this case vary, and they include:
Medical bills – Treatment for pedestrian injuries often costs a lot because of their extent. Some injuries may require extended treatment, while others not so severe. The cost of medication, doctor's fees, medical procedures, and equipment are compensable. Additionally, past and future treatment costs for the injuries are also compensable under California's compensation laws.
Lost wages – During your recovery period, you will miss going to work. This means the income you would have earned is lost. The law allows you to attach a document detailing your lost income to your claim.
Lost earning Capacity – Pedestrian accidents often result in catastrophic injuries that leave the victims in a vegetative state. In such a case, you will not have the ability to work again, yet you need income for survival. Compensation law allows you to seek damages for the income you would have earned if the accident had not occurred.
Wrongful death – As earlier discussed, many pedestrian accidents result in fatalities. If a loved one dies following a pedestrian accident, you can pursue damages for their wrongful death.
Funeral and burial expenses – If a loved one dies following a pedestrian knockdown, the family incurs' cost in their burial and funeral arrangements is compensable.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Pedestrian accidents are among the most injurious forms of crashes. Because pedestrians lack protection to their bodies, an accident involving a vehicle causes them more harm than vehicle occupants. The cost of treating the injuries and meeting daily needs is also high and compensable under California's compensation laws. If you or a loved one is knocked down, finding an attorney to help you seek your damages is critical. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we understand the pain and frustration after the accident. We could passionately assist you in obtaining your compensation. Call us at 310-935-0089 and let us help you with your pedestrian claim.
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