Behind the Recent Spike in Pedestrian Deaths
Pedestrian accidents can lead to horrifying injuries that can forever impact a person’s life. Yet, while these accidents are nothing new, and every year there are countless individuals harmed in these types of accidents, recently, there has been a spike in pedestrian accidents and deaths.
To give you further information about why these accidents are on the rise, we have prepared the below post. In it, we will go over why these pedestrian accidents have increased in recent years and the debilitating consequences they are known to cause. We will also discuss your legal options if you have suffered harm in such an accident and how an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help you take on this legal battle and fight for the monetary recovery you need.
An Increase in Pedestrian Accidents and Deaths
According to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), motorists kill an estimated 7,485 pedestrians annually, accounting for, on average, 20 deaths daily. This is the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in the last four decades.
This report also indicates that the key factors affecting this increase in pedestrian deaths include reckless driving behavior, poor lighting that makes it hard to see pedestrians, and an increase in sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
The Causes Behind Pedestrian Accidents
While there are several causes behind pedestrian accidents, certain behaviors result in these devastating accidents more frequently than others. They include:
Speeding endangers everyone.
This reckless driving behavior can cause:
- A greater possibility of a motorist losing control of their vehicle.
- An increased stopping distance after the motorist perceives a danger.
- An increased degree of crash severity.
- Reduced efficacy of occupant protection equipment.
As a result, if a speeding motor vehicle hits a pedestrian, the consequences are often catastrophic, leading to devastating injuries or death.
Distracted driving is any activity that takes the driver’s attention off the road, even for a second. These activities include eating while operating the vehicle, talking to others in the car, or texting on the cell phone. When drivers engage in this behavior, it prevents them from driving safely and increases their risk of crashing into other vehicles or pedestrians.
There are many ways a motorist can fail to yield. For instance, cars can:
- Fail to yield to other vehicles that have the right-of-way at stop signs
- Fail to yield at red lights
- Fail to yield to emergency vehicles
- Fail to yield to traffic entering the highway, and
- Fail to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks or on sidewalks.
However, when these vehicles fail to yield, especially to pedestrians, it can lead to debilitating and often deadly accidents.
Driving under the influence is dangerous. Alcohol is known to reduce a person’s brain functions and impair their thinking, muscle coordination, and reasoning – abilities needed to operate a motor vehicle safely. As a result, when individuals drink and drive, they are more likely to be involved in deadly pedestrian accidents.
About 20 percent of accidents at an intersection involve a turning vehicle hitting a pedestrian. Additionally, the proportion of accidents involving a left-hand turn vehicle and a pedestrian varies between 17 percent to 32 percent of all pedestrian accidents at an intersection. Or, more simply, left-hand turns at intersections are a major issue for pedestrians.
Generally, these left-hand turn accidents arise because drivers do not yield to the pedestrian when they both have a green light to proceed, poor visibility, heavy traffic congestion, or distracted driving.
SUVs are often more problematic for pedestrians because they feature different body styles than smaller vehicles, making them more dangerous.
- The front bumper of an SUV is flat and high, which increases the chances of a pedestrian suffering a head injury or a severe torso and chest injury in an accident.
- The SUV has higher ground clearance, meaning pedestrians are likelier to slide beneath the vehicle when struck.
- Some SUV drivers have a false sense of security, making them feel safer in the car. This feeling can cause them to take more risks while driving, such as traveling at faster speeds, ultimately resulting in horrifying pedestrian accidents.
While these factors are some of the more common reasons behind the increase in pedestrian accidents, they are not the only causes that can lead to these tragic accidents. For instance, conditions on the roadway, poor weather, and vehicles backing up can also cause serious pedestrian accidents.
For these reasons, if you suffered harm in a pedestrian accident due to another person’s wrongful actions, you should reach out to an experienced pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can determine who was responsible for your accident and whether you have a viable claim. They can also help you fight for the maximum compensation you deserve for the harm and losses you suffered.
Seven Other Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents
While the above listed three factors have received attention of late, there are many more reasons why pedestrian crashes occur, including:
- Nighttime driving: Even in the light of day, motorists often don’t think to look for pedestrians, instead focusing on other vehicles on the road. Visibility is an even greater issue for pedestrians at night, when a motorist might not see them even if they were looking for them.
- Speeding: Speeding is a major cause of all types of motor vehicle accidents. Higher speeds decrease the amount of time a driver has to detect a hazard in the roadway—such as a pedestrian—and respond by engaging the brakes. Speeding also increases the amount of distance a vehicle requires to come to a safe stop. The heavier the vehicle is, the more distance it requires to stop.
- Alcohol impairment: Like marijuana, alcohol impairs skills that a driver needs to operate their motor vehicle safely, and also impairs a pedestrian’s ability to follow traffic laws and safely walk along a roadway.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way: Motorists are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when they are at or in a crosswalk. Additionally, they must yield the right-of-way when a school bus is stopped in front of them with its lights flashing and its stop arm deployed. Pedestrians who cross outside of a crosswalk are required to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic. Many pedestrian accidents occur when either a driver or the pedestrian fails to follow these traffic laws.
- Backing up: All vehicles have blind spots in front, in the rear, and along the sides of the vehicle. The larger the vehicle, the larger these blind spots are. While many newer model vehicles have backup cameras and warning systems that detect if the vehicle is about to strike an obstacle such as another vehicle or a pedestrian, older models do not. Many pedestrian accidents occur in a person’s own driveway as a driver backs up without ensuring that no one is behind them.
- Conditions on the roadway: Many urban areas lack safe intersections and marked crosswalks for pedestrians to use. When faced with walking many blocks to the nearest marked intersection, many pedestrians opt to make risky crossings through multiple traffic lanes.
- Traffic congestion: The increase seen in the purchase and ownership of SUVs—which are particularly dangerous to pedestrians by design—is not the only problem with traffic on city roadways. An overall increase in traffic also poses a problem, as it increases the risk of drivers not seeing pedestrians in the chaos and congestion. Traffic can block a driver’s view of a crosswalk, making them less likely to see a person crossing within it.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
Can pedestrian accidents be avoided? Yes, and here are seven tips to keep pedestrians safer on your city streets:
- Avoid driving or walking if you are impaired by substances such as alcohol or marijuana, which can cloud your judgment and make the coordinated movements needed for safe driving or safe walking difficult.
- Avoid distractions such as cell phone use when driving or walking. Electronic devices cause drivers and walkers alike to be less aware of their surroundings and prime for an accident between a vehicle and a pedestrian.
- If you live in an area where there are a lot of pedestrians on the street, carefully consider the vehicle you choose. SUVs have higher bumpers that make it harder to see a pedestrian and increase the severity of the injuries a pedestrian will suffer in an accident.
- If you’re a pedestrian, wear bright clothing so that you are more readily seen by motorists. If you’re walking at night, wearing clothing that has reflective stripes can help increase your visibility.
- Before crossing a street, even in a crosswalk, pedestrians should attempt to make eye contact with approaching drivers. Eye contact, in many cases, ensures that the driver has seen you and is prepared to stop.
- Motorists must learn to look for pedestrians anywhere and be prepared to stop for them. Remember that in areas where small children are likely to be—such as near playgrounds and schools—the driver bears an additional responsibility to look out for pedestrians even outside of crosswalks.
- Motorists should not attempt to overtake a car that is stopped at a crosswalk or a bus that is stopped on the roadway. Passing in such places increases the risk of injury to pedestrians who may be crossing the road at these places.
Injuries That Can Result From a Pedestrian Accident
A pedestrian’s injuries may include
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractures in the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, legs, and back
- Punctured lungs
- Damage to organs
- Internal bleeding
- Facial injuries
You should also note that many of these injuries can result in extensive medical treatments leading to astronomical medical costs and bills. That is why if you suffered harm in a pedestrian accident, consider reaching out to a knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorney as soon as you can following this accident. These lawyers can determine the full extent of your damages, figure out how much compensation you need for medical treatments, and help you go after all the financial recovery you deserve.
Financial Damages You Can Pursue After a Pedestrian Accident
If you sustained severe injuries in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to collect compensation for the injuries and losses you endured. This compensation usually brakes up into the following categories.
These damages refer to payment for objectively verifiable monetary losses, such as:
- Medical bills related to hospitalization, doctor visits, surgeries, emergency services, ambulance rides, medical devices, and other treatments resulting from the accident
- Ongoing medical care
- Lost wages due to not being able to work because of the sustained injuries
- Reduced earning capacity
- Replacement services
- Personal property damages
- Other losses
Non-economic damages refer to non-economic harm after an accident, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life and quality of life
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Disfigurement, inconvenience, and scarring
Punitive damages may also be available following a pedestrian accident. However, because the court awards these damages only to punish the wrongdoer for their egregious actions and stop others from carrying out this deed, they are not granted after every personal injury accident. Instead, they are provided only in exceptional cases.
For these reasons, if you want to figure out which of these damages would apply to your situation, it may be a good idea to speak with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney about your financial remedies. These lawyers can determine not only which of these damages you can pursue after your pedestrian accident, but they can also help you go after all the compensation you deserve.
Taking Action After a Pedestrian Accident
Even though taking any action after a pedestrian accident may not be your number one priority after this terrifying collision, taking certain steps can help ensure you stay safe and protect your legal rights. That is why after an accident, you should consider doing the following:
Call the Authorities
After a pedestrian accident, if you can, call 911 right away. If you cannot do this yourself, have someone nearby call on your behalf. Calling 911 is the fastest way to get emergency medical personnel to the scene.
In addition, after the police arrive, they will investigate the incident and jot down information regarding the crash, including how it occurred, in their police report. Your attorney can use this report to help prepare your legal case and go after the financial damages you want.
Get Medical Help
In the rare instance that you do not need emergency medical help after a pedestrian accident, you should still get to a doctor to get an exam. Not only can serious injuries, such as brain trauma, remain hidden for some time before symptoms manifest, but these doctors can also prepare a medical report, which can detail your injuries and show a connection between your harm and the pedestrian accident. This report will be beneficial if the insurance company claims the two are unrelated or your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
Gather Photos and Videos
If you can, take photos of the crash scene after a pedestrian accident, including pictures of your injuries, the vehicles involved, the dangerous conditions that contributed to the accident, and other elements that can help show what happened.
Do not worry if you cannot obtain these photos and videos yourself. After you retain an experienced pedestrian accident attorney, these legal professionals can get to work looking into your accident and finding the evidence needed to prove your case.
Get Information From Others
Try to get information from the driver involved in the accident, including their name, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers. Try to also check for witnesses, as these individuals can offer further information about the crash and provide testimony that can help validate your legal claim.
Watch What You Say to Others
However, while you discuss the accident with others, make sure you watch what you say. Avoid making definitive statements about the pedestrian accident, taking the blame for what happened, or saying comments such as “I’m sorry.” These comments can help the other side create a case against you and hurt your ability to secure the money you need.
Contact an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney for a Free Case Evaluation
If you endured harm in a pedestrian accident, the last thing you want to do is worry about preparing solid legal arguments, finding relevant evidence, and fighting for justice, especially as you are healing from your injuries. Thankfully, you will not have to do any of this yourself. When you hire an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to take on your legal claim, these attorneys can handle this challenging legal process for you.
These legal professionals can review what happened, determine if you have a viable legal claim, and determine the legal avenues you can pursue.
They can also:
- Go over your questions and concerns.
- Look into the incident and find the evidence required to show what happened and the extent of your trauma and losses.
- Hire experts to validate your legal cases, such as doctors, financial experts, and accident specialists.
- Make sure that legal motions are prepared and filed with the proper court before the statute of limitations expires.
- Take on the settlement negotiations and go after a fair settlement offer.
- Fight for maximum damages by taking your case to the courtroom if the insurance company is unwilling to provide you with a just settlement amount.
If you or a loved one suffered debilitating injuries in a pedestrian accident, contact a skilled personal accident attorney today for a free case evaluation. Let these lawyers help you fight for the monetary recovery you deserve.