When someone mentions a traffic accident, normally we think about car or truck crashes, motorcycle accidents, or multi-car pile-ups. But more and more, pedestrians are being injured and killed in traffic accidents as well.
The numbers are alarming: In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians died in traffic accidents, and around 129,000 pedestrians were injured and treated in hospital emergency rooms around the United States. In fact, you’re 1.5 times more likely to be killed in an accident if you’re a pedestrian than you are if you’re a vehicle occupant. A pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident once every 1.6 hours on average.
Pedestrians and Vehicles
Of course, we’re all taught in driver’s education that we need to adhere to the rules of the road, and pay attention to all the motor vehicles, bicycles, and people around us. When a driver doesn’t pay attention and does something negligent, they’re responsible for the injuries that are suffered by a pedestrian due to their negligence. Driving under the influence of intoxicants, driving while distracted, or succumbing to road rage are all widespread reasons that accidents occur.
Pedestrians, too, must be attentive to their surroundings and exercise care to protect their safety. In a known dangerous situation, like crossing a busy intersection, pedestrians need to be extremely cautious to the danger, as well as the potential consequences if they’re not careful. When a pedestrian is partially at fault for the accident that injured them, they’re held partially responsible. In legal terms, this is called “contributory negligence.”
Examples of contributory negligence include:
- Darting into a roadway from between two parked cars;
- Walking against the “do not walk” signal at a traffic light;
- Not utilizing marked crosswalks; or
- Being distracted while walking i.e., talking or texting on your phone.
Pedestrian Accidents Involving Children
When the pedestrian is a child, the rules change of course. A child that is between five to nine years old is most at risk of being hit by a car. First of all, they’re hard to see, but they’re also unpredictable and simply don’t have the life experience to avoid dangerous situations, because they can’t detect them.
Because kids are more at risk, you’ll see more signs and warnings when driving through areas where children play or walk, such as libraries and schools. Paying extra attention in these areas, or anywhere you know children live or play, is your responsibility as a driver of a vehicle. Children are generally not held liable for contributory or comparative negligence.
Pedestrians and Highways
It’s not surprising that driving at high speeds doesn’t mix well with any unexpected obstacles, pedestrians being at the top of the list. Anytime a pedestrian is in close proximity to a highway, it is highly dangerous, and in fact, they may be acting negligently by doing so. As with other types of accidents, a pedestrian’s negligent behavior may reduce the amount of damages they are entitled to recover, or prevent them from recovering damages altogether.
The good news is that there are actions you can take – both as a driver and as a pedestrian – that may reduce the involvement of injuries or death to pedestrians around traffic. Here are a few tips based on what we see in our law offices on a daily basis.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
- Never walk on a road when there is a sidewalk available.
- If there aren’t sidewalks available, walk on the shoulder of the street facing into traffic.
- Always be on high alert of your surroundings, paying attention to sudden changes in traffic.
- Keep your devices in your pocket. Using any device while you’re walking close to traffic diverts your attention away from your surroundings. The result of this distraction can be horrific.
- Pay extra attention when you’re near traffic at night. Assume that drivers can’t see you. Be aware that you may be dealing with distracted or drunk drivers who may not see you at all.
- Be intentionally predictable in your actions in traffic. Cross at the crosswalks, look both ways before entering an intersection, and follow traffic signal directions.
- Wear lighter clothing at night for better visibility. Even during the day, lighter clothing is easier to see. At night, carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing.
- Avoid walking close to traffic if you’re under the influence of intoxicants.
Safety Tips for Drivers
- Simply assume that there are pedestrians everywhere you’re driving.
- Stop completely at posted crosswalks and make sure you give the pedestrians the right-of-way, especially in busy areas.
- Do not try to drive past a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, as they may be stopping for pedestrians that you can’t see.
- Never drive while distracted. Put your phone down. Be very wary of eating or drinking while driving.
- Your ultimate focus should be on the road, and areas surrounding it.
- Drive at the posted speed limit, and lower your speed through areas where pedestrians walk.
- Never drink while you’re under the influence of intoxicants.
Schedule A Free Consultation
We at Marathon Law know what it feels like to be injured due to someone else’s negligence. It’s something we see on a daily basis in our practice. We know that along with the financial stresses, you’re also wondering when you’ll be able to return to work, and how to go about getting the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. We can help.
We can review your case and let you know how much you can expect to receive based on our years of experience with personal injury cases similar to yours. We can discuss how long it might take to receive a settlement, and whether litigation is something you should consider.
Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. You can reach our office by phone at 303-704-1222 or through our online contact page.