Not all vehicle accidents only involve cars. Pedestrians also run the risk of injury. Whether on the roadside or using a sidewalk or crosswalk, an accident could happen at any time, and different factors contribute to the likelihood of injuries.
Among vehicle accidents, the ones with pedestrians make up a sizable portion of injury reports. Statistics show how a considerable amount of pedestrians get hurt every year, and certain places see more accidents than others as well.
People should understand the rules and risks of the road even if they do not drive; negligent, careless, and reckless drivers are everywhere, and pedestrians are at constant risk of an encounter with one of these dangerous vehicles.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Both pedestrians and drivers take extra precautions to make sure everyone around them is safe. While some drivers will obey traffic laws, others may become negligent through inattention or recklessness. Several different causes often lead to a pedestrian accident.
Common reasons a collision occurs include:
- Speeding. In some cases, speeding gets classified as reckless driving. If a motorist is traveling at high speeds, they may not have enough time to stop. A person walking along a crosswalk could get hit.
- Poor visibility. A motorist might not have seen the pedestrian as clearly. Harsh weather conditions can reduce visibility when someone looks out of the windshield. Windshield wipers may not keep up with a heavy downpour. Drivers also may not see pedestrians at night.
- Failure to stop. Pedestrians have the right of way when they are allowed to cross an intersection. Drivers need to wait for someone to make it to the other side, even at a stop sign. A motorist may decide to ignore the traffic signal.
- Distracted driving. Another common cause of a pedestrian accident is a distracted driver. Anything could cause a person to take their eyes off the road. For instance, texting or calling someone can result in an incident. Other occupants may have drawn the driver’s attention away from the road.
- Intoxicated driving. Pedestrian accidents, among other types, can happen due to intoxicated driving. A person frequently experiences a reduced reaction time when they consume a lot of alcohol. Drunk drivers usually have impaired reasoning as well.
Types of Vehicle-Pedestrian Collisions
Every collision with a pedestrian has different circumstances. Several situations commonly occur, however, when someone is negligent.
One example is when a vehicle goes into reverse. The car could be backing up in a driveway or parking lot. Some drivers suffer from limited visibility due to layout design or other objects. A motorist may get distracted or back up too fast to react to a pedestrian.
Some drivers pay less attention in areas with lower expected pedestrian traffic, such as a limited-access highway, entry ramp, or exit ramp. Because of this, pedestrians may have a higher risk of getting injured in areas like a highway.
Another example of a pedestrian accident is when a vehicle hits someone who is not even on the road. A person could walk on a sidewalk or on private or public property. In some cases, a car may drive up onto a sidewalk, driveway, or other area where pedestrians might be. Alcohol can play a significant role in an off-road crash as well.
In several areas, a sidewalk does not exist, placing pedestrians potentially further into the roadway. Many pedestrians try to keep as close to the edge as possible to stay out of the way, but a speeding driver who fails to notice a pedestrian could injure them.
When a car makes a left turn at an intersection, the driver also has to yield to any pedestrians. Drivers may attempt to make a quick maneuver and fail to properly scan the area for crossing pedestrians. Similarly, right turns also run the possibility of an accident.
Statistics of Pedestrian Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 137,000 people suffer from non-fatal pedestrian accidents. On average, about 5,977 people are in fatal collisions every year. Pedestrians have an increased chance of passing away compared to car passengers.
A large percentage of crashes involve an intoxicated driver. Some groups of people experience injuries more so than others. Approximately 20 percent of incidents involve an injured person over the age of 65. However, minors also make up a significant portion of cases. Older adults and children have an increased risk of fatal injuries due to their size and age as well.
Men and women walk about the same average amount of time and distance. Between the two demographics, however, men have a higher possibility of getting into a fatal pedestrian accident.
Where Do Accidents Often Happen?
A pedestrian accident can occur anywhere, but some places see more collisions than average. A person in the city faces an increased possibility of getting hit by a car compared to other areas. The National Safety Council reports how urban locations see a higher number of incidents.
An estimated 81.71 percent of cases are in a city every year. Urban areas can have hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors. Since more people live in cities and walk around, a pedestrian accident is more likely to happen. Crowded streets and sidewalks may force people to stand close to the edge of the sidewalk while they wait for public transportation.
When someone thinks of a vehicle-pedestrian collision, they might imagine an intersection. Around 26.33 percent of cases occur at one. However, a vast majority occurs in places other than an intersection. Most of them tend to happen on the open road.
Are Pedestrian Accidents Increasing?
The number of people in a vehicle-pedestrian accident can vary from year to year. However, the number of collisions appears to have increased. Research has found that fatal crashes have increased by about 21 percent. Some sources suggest drunk driving has gone up as well. Alcohol may have contributed to the rise of fatal pedestrian collisions.
Other sources cite speed as the main factor in many accident reports. In many places, the number of cars around is less; however, these roads with fewer drivers may see faster-moving vehicles, which also puts pedestrians at risk.
Common Injuries in a Pedestrian Collision
Pedestrians can suffer from severe injuries compared to automobile passengers since they do not have a vehicle frame to protect their bodies. Someone may spend months or years in recovery, and accidents are fatal in some instances.
The lower body includes anywhere from the hip to the feet. Trauma often happens in the lower extremities since it most often comes in contact with the vehicle. Of course, the upper half of the body can suffer from wounds as well.
Depending on the impact, injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injury. The sudden movement may leave someone with a traumatic brain injury. Direct impact on the hood of a car or the ground can lead to damages to the head. Victims may feel symptoms like a headache or nausea.
- Broken bones. Pedestrians do not have a barrier to reduce the chances of a serious injury. The force of impact can cause bones to fracture or break. The hips and legs are more likely to get damaged. An accident can result in a broken bone in the arm as well.
- Spinal cord injury. A blow to the spine may lead to a loss of sensation or function below the injury site. A spinal cord injury is not always obvious immediately. Numbness or paralysis can develop over time.
The time between injury and treatment is often critical.
What Are Pedestrian Laws?
Each state has its laws governing pedestrian safety. Some may define who is at fault in specific circumstances. Other rules provide strict duties of care to people when they cross the road. Many states compel vehicles to stop or yield to someone when they cross the street.
More and more places require drivers to stop for pedestrians at uncontrolled crosswalks. An uncontrolled crosswalk has no traffic signal nearby. A few have markings, but others do not have any. Drivers have to yield to pedestrians in any part of the street in some places.
A few states make vehicles stop only if the pedestrian is in their half of the road. The pedestrian then needs to wait for traffic to pass. Several areas make it against the law for a rear car to pass a stopped vehicle when a person crosses the street.
Multiple states established a higher duty of care for drivers if the pedestrians are children. Drivers and non-drivers should review the pedestrian laws of their state, and when in doubt, drivers should always yield to the more vulnerable pedestrian.
Identifying Fault in an Accident
When someone gets injured in a pedestrian accident, they may wonder who was at fault. The driver is negligent in many cases, and is usually the primary source of liability. Sometimes, however, the liable party is not always obvious.
For example, what if a car is forced to swerve due to another vehicle driving recklessly or illegally, and hits a pedestrian? What if an improperly maintained roadway causes an accident? In these cases, liability might extend further than the driver of the car that struck the pedestrian.
Occasionally, the driver may not be at fault for an incident, or may only hold partial liability. The city or town might be liable for a poorly maintained roadway or a failure of traffic signals, for example. The employer of the driver could be liable if the driver was operating their vehicle for commercial purposes.
Liability can be more complex than at first glance, which is why pedestrian accident attorneys thoroughly investigate the circumstances of an accident.
What Happens If You Are In a Pedestrian Accident?
If someone was a victim of a pedestrian accident, they often have the option to seek compensation. Drivers have to stay alert and pay attention to other people. In many cases, the motorist is at fault, but negligence may not be as clear-cut depending on the facts of the case.
The injured person should collect items like a police report and medical bills for evidence. The victim may need to prove how the driver failed their duty of care and did not stop or yield. While you could manage a case on your own, a pedestrian accident attorney can be a life-changing help. A lawyer can let you know what documents to gather to prove negligence.
Victims of a vehicle-pedestrian collision have a limited time to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations is different in each state. You may have two or three years to establish a claim. Filing a lawsuit against a city could have specific procedures. For example, you may have to send a Notice of Claim first.
How Long Does a Case Take to Resolve?
Pedestrian accident cases are hardly ever the same. The time it takes to complete the lawsuit can vary due to different factors. The severity of injuries could influence how long the process takes to receive compensation. If you go to court, it could take longer, but you might recover more money. Both parties generally wait until your treatment finishes, and severe injuries could mean extensive medical care.