When you think of traffic accidents, you normally think of vehicles colliding with one another, or accidents between cars and motorcycles, but all too often, pedestrians are involved in traffic accidents resulting in severe injuries and even death.
To give you an idea of the numbers, in 2013 alone, there were over 4,700 pedestrian fatalities and approximately 66,000 pedestrian injuries in the United States. Over 4,600 traffic accidents had one or more pedestrian fatalities. One pedestrian was killed, on average, every two hours, and injured every eight minutes in traffic accidents.
Pedestrians tend to be particularly vulnerable when it comes to traffic. It is for this reason that pedestrians are granted the right-of-way when interacting with vehicles, such as at traffic crossings. The liability in pedestrian accidents, as in other accident situations, is always based on negligence. While vehicle drivers often get blamed for pedestrian accidents, the injured pedestrians may also be partially at fault if they were not following the proper rules of traffic.
It’s a given that drivers should always follow the rules of the road, and pay attention to the vehicles and pedestrians surrounding them. When a driver does something negligent that results in an accident, they become liable for the injuries the pedestrian suffers. Not following traffic rules, or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving while distracted are common ways that drivers act negligently while driving.
But consider that pedestrians must also exercise reasonable care for their safety. When they are in a dangerous traffic situation, such as crossing a busy street, they must be overtly aware of the dangers, as well as the consequences that will arise if they are not careful. Negligence on the part of a pedestrian can result in them being held partially responsible for their actions as well – a legal concept called “contributory negligence.” A pedestrian doing such things as not using crosswalks, darting out onto a roadway, not following intersection walk/do not walk signals, and being distracted while walking all constitute negligence on their part. Of course, the rules change a bit when it is a pedestrian that is a child. Children that are five to nine years of age are the most vulnerable and at risk of being hit by a car. This is because children of this age are hard to see, are unpredictable, and can’t effectively avoid dangerous situations because they lack the life experience to detect them.
It is for this reason that you will see additional signage and warnings when you are driving through an area where children are present, such as a school or child care facility. It is a driver’s responsibility to exercise a higher level of care when it comes to small children and traffic. Generally, because of a small child’s inability to exercise reasonable caution for their own care, they are not usually subject to being held liable for contributory or comparative negligence.
When vehicles driving at high speeds mix with pedestrians or other unexpected roadway obstacles, the results are never good. When a pedestrian attempts to cross a highway, walk along a highway, or has to be in the highway due to pushing or repairing a car, they may be acting negligently. And as with other types of accidents, this negligent behavior may prevent them from recovering damages or have the damages they’re entitled to reduced.
There are actions both pedestrians and drivers can take to reduce the involvement of pedestrians in traffic accidents. Here are some tips that will help you be a safer pedestrian and a safer driver.
At the law firm of Parker & Lazzara, we are intimately familiar with accidents involving pedestrians, and the injuries that can occur. We can help you recover the damages that you are entitled to if you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver. We invite you to contact us for help in assessing your case and guiding you through the legal process. Call us at 480-456-3080 or by using our online contact page.