As a pedestrian, you expect to share the roads and walkways safely. However, over 60,000 pedestrians are struck by motor vehicles in the U.S. each year, with many often suffering life-changing injuries.
If you have been hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian, you may be entitled to compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. To understand your legal rights, you need the guidance of an experienced pedestrian accident attorney.
Our team of experienced pedestrian accident lawyers can help determine who is at fault, handle the insurance claims process, and fight for fair compensation. Even if you are accused of being partially at fault, we can evaluate the details of your case to determine the best path forward.
So, reach out to our team today. At The Personal Injury Lawyers ™, we’re here to help.
To schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and the types of damages you may have been entitled to, simply call 312-999-9990 or contact us online today.
Benefits of Working With a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
A pedestrian accident attorney is a lawyer who specializes in representing pedestrians who have been injured in accidents involving vehicles. They are well-versed in the laws and regulations that apply to your rights as a pedestrian — and a driver’s responsibilities.
If you have been struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian and suffered injuries, contacting a pedestrian accident attorney is advised for several reasons:
- They can advise you of your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation related to any medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
- They have experience negotiating with insurance companies to pursue fair settlements. Insurance companies may offer a low settlement amount, hoping you will accept, but a lawyer can determine if the offer is reasonable while fighting for maximum compensation.
- If a settlement cannot be reached, they can represent you in court to pursue compensation through a lawsuit. Proving liability and damages in a pedestrian accident case can be complex, and a lawyer understands how to build a strong case.
- Strict statutes of limitations apply to pedestrian accident claims, typically 1 – 3 years, depending on your state. Hiring a lawyer promptly helps ensure your claim is filed on time.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics in the US
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 6,000 pedestrians lose their lives in traffic crashes each year in the United States. Tens of thousands more pedestrians sustain serious injuries.
These statistics demonstrate the sobering reality that pedestrian accidents are far too common.
Understanding the common causes of pedestrian accidents can help both pedestrians and drivers take proactive steps to prevent them. Some of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted Driving: One of the primary reasons for pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. When drivers divert their attention from the road to use their phones, adjust the radio, or engage in other non-driving activities, their ability to spot pedestrians — and respond in time — diminishes significantly.
- Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way: Drivers failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks, intersections, and designated crossing areas contribute to a large number of accidents.
- Lack of Visibility: Insufficient visibility due to poor lighting, bad weather conditions, or obstructed views can lead to pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians should wear reflective clothing and use designated crosswalks with proper lighting whenever possible.
- Impaired Driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver’s ability to make rational decisions and respond to road hazards. This poses a grave threat to pedestrians sharing the road with impaired drivers.
When Should I File an Injury Claim After a Pedestrian Accident?
Technically, any injury sustained from a pedestrian accident can count as a claim-worthy injury if it was the result of another party’s careless, reckless, or negligent actions. So, for example, if you were injured by a driver while you were walking across the street, you could technically hold them accountable for any injury — from a sprained ankle to a lost limb — if they can be found to be liable for your injury.
This is why it is so important to seek medical treatment immediately after any pedestrian accident. If you know that you are not to blame for the accident, it’s always worth it to visit a doctor immediately, as you never know what injuries may be lying beneath the surface.
Then, when it comes time to file your claim, you’ll also have your detailed medical report on your side to strengthen your case.
Who Is Liable in a Pedestrian Accident?
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, determining liability will be a critical step in your claims process.
Liability refers to the legal responsibility for the accident and resulting injuries. Determining who is ‘liable’ essentially means deciding who is financially responsible for compensating the injured party.
There are several possibilities for liability in a pedestrian accident, especially because, in many cases, liability is not absolute and may be shared between multiple parties. For example:
If The Driver Is Liable
The driver who struck the pedestrian may be fully or partially liable. If the driver was negligent by speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, or violating other traffic laws, they can typically be held liable.
Drivers are required to exercise reasonable care to avoid colliding with pedestrians. Failure to do so that results in an accident may qualify as negligence.
If The Pedestrian Is Liable
The pedestrian may share some liability if they were acting irresponsibly. For example, if the pedestrian was jaywalking or crossing against the signal in an uncontrolled intersection, they may be partially at fault.
Pedestrians must also exercise reasonable caution for their own safety. Comparative negligence laws in most states allow for shared liability.
If Another Party Is Liable
In some cases, other parties may also share liability. For example, if poor lighting, lack of crosswalks, or defective traffic signals contributed to the accident, the city or county may share some liability.
Property owners may be liable if an unsafe condition on their property caused or contributed to the collision. Vehicle manufacturers or mechanics could be liable if a vehicle defect caused or contributed to the crash.
Does the Insurance Company Decide Who Is Liable?
Typically, the driver’s or pedestrian’s insurance company will handle liability claims and determine the percentage of fault for each party.
They’ll also settle any claims for damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. If liability cannot be agreed upon or settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to court to determine liability and award damages.
Proving Liability and Negligence in Pedestrian Accident Claims
To prove liability and negligence in a pedestrian accident claim, you will need to establish that the driver (or pedestrian) acted carelessly and failed to exercise reasonable caution.
As the plaintiff, the burden of proof is on you to show the other party was negligent in their actions or failure to act. Common factors you might point to include if the driver was speeding, distracted, or intoxicated.
Still, you could also highlight any hazardous conditions or the driver’s overall lack of caution or specific failure to yield.
To back your statement up, you’ll need to gather as much evidence as possible. The more evidence you can compile — like witness testimonies, pictures of the accident scene, medical reports, police reports, or photo evidence of your injuries or damages — the stronger your case will be.
National Rules, Laws, and Regulations for Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents are governed by federal and state laws that protect the rights (and safety) of those on foot. These regulations establish responsibilities for both drivers and pedestrians to prevent collisions and determine fault when an accident occurs.
Traffic Laws and Pedestrian Rights
Widespread traffic laws ensure that vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections.
We know pedestrians have the right of way in these areas and at stop signs or red lights. It’s common knowledge that drivers must stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian has completely crossed the road.
Other, more specific federal traffic laws govern life on the road and can be used by your attorney to defend your rights.
For example, the “Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010” was enacted to address concerns about the safety of pedestrians, especially those with visual or hearing impairments, around hybrid and electric vehicles. It requires hybrid and electric vehicles to produce sound when operating at low speeds, and so a failure to do so could be seen as a huge red flag if it led to a pedestrian accident.
Crosswalks indicate a pedestrian crossing, and in most states, vehicles must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. However, pedestrians should follow the pedestrian signal before stepping into the crosswalk.
From there, the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD) requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.
This means that even if the traffic signal is green for vehicles, drivers must stop and wait for pedestrians to cross before proceeding through the crosswalk. However, if the pedestrian crosses when they don’t have a light, they may be found to be acting recklessly.
It’s these kinds of tricky situations when you’ll be grateful to have an experienced attorney on your side.
Right of Way Rules
When multiple vehicles and pedestrians arrive at an intersection at the same time, there are right-of-way rules to determine who goes first. Pedestrians have the right of way over-turning vehicles.
Vehicles turning left must yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. All traffic must yield to emergency vehicles with lights and sirens activated.
Failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians can result in traffic violations and legal liability. Similar to the crosswalk regulations explained above, this order of operations was originally created by the Federal Highway Administration’s “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”
What Should I Do Immediately After a Pedestrian Accident?
- First, call 911 for emergency responders and medical assistance. Even if there are no obvious injuries, it is best to get checked out by paramedics at the scene. They can properly assess the situation, check for internal injuries, and transport anyone who needs further medical care to a hospital.
- Next, get to safety. Move out of the roadway and any area where there are moving vehicles as soon as possible to avoid further incidents. Turn on your hazard lights or set up road flares, if available, to alert other drivers.
- Then, exchange information with the other parties involved. Get their full legal name, contact information, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance details, and any other pertinent details about the incident. Also, take down information from any witnesses to the accident.
- You’ll also want to gather evidence from the accident scene. Take photos of the area, any damage to vehicles, the position of the vehicles, and anything else that could be relevant for insurance and legal purposes. You can draw a diagram of the accident to record where everything was situated. Get a copy of the official police report, as this will also contain key details about the incident.
- Finally, contact a pedestrian accident attorney. They can advise you of your rights, determine who is at fault, and help you pursue a legal claim for compensation if negligence is involved. Pedestrian accidents often result in severe injuries, so you want proper legal counsel to help you recover damages.
Work With an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Law Firm
An experienced attorney will know how to thoroughly investigate the accident details and build the strongest possible case on your behalf. Plus, they can also handle any communications with insurance companies and ensure that your case is handled while you focus on your most important priority — recovery. So, reach out to our team today. At The Personal Injury Lawyers ™, we’re here to help. To schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and the types of damages you may be entitled to, simply call 312-999-9990 or contact us online today.