A pedestrian accident occurs when a driver of a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian. These pedestrian accidents occur for several reasons, and most pedestrian accidents ultimately lead to personal injury claims or wrongful death claims depending on whether the victim survives. Drivers must understand how pedestrian accidents happen so they can avoid causing these serious accidents and incurring liability for the resulting injuries and other damages. Pedestrians must know how pedestrian accidents happen so they can avoid dangerous situations while walking near traffic.
What Is the Most Frequent Cause of Pedestrian Accidents?
According to available accident data from across the United States, the most common cause of pedestrian accidents in the US is distracted driving or driver inattention. Every motor vehicle driver has a duty of care to pay close attention to their surroundings at all times while operating their vehicles. Even momentary distractions can cause devastating accidents, especially in areas with a great deal of pedestrian movement.
Drivers must pay full attention to their surroundings while driving. Using a cell phone behind the wheel is illegal in California (unless you use it with a hands-free attachment), but this is one of the most commonly cited forms of distracted driving that causes serious accidents. Eating, operating vehicle stereo controls, and holding conversations with passengers are other common forms of distraction.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Accidents?
Distracted driving is not only the leading cause of pedestrian accidents but the top cause of car accidents of all kinds. Distractions typically fall into three categories:
- Visual distractions divert a driver’s gaze from the road and their surroundings. Looking at a phone screen, glancing to the side to look at something out the window are just a couple of examples of visual distractions.
- Manual distractions are things that take the driver’s hands away from the steering wheel and vehicle controls. Rummaging in a handbag, eating, or typing a message on a cell phone are all forms of manual distraction.
- Cognitive distractions are things that preoccupy a driver’s thoughts when they should be focused on driving. A driver could be cognitively distracted thinking about a stressful day at work and fail to notice changing traffic conditions.
It is vital for all drivers to avoid distractions at all times behind the wheel. Even a few seconds of distraction is enough to cause a pedestrian accident if the driver cannot adjust in time to avoid a collision.
Why Do Pedestrians Get Hit by Cars?
Pedestrians suffer severe injuries from pedestrian accidents for many other reasons aside from distracted driving. In some cases, pedestrians may contribute to causing their own injuries if they jaywalk, bicycle or cross streets outside of designated crosswalks. They may also cause pedestrian accidents if they are not paying attention to where they are walking and cross a street before the crossing signal indicates it is safe to do so.
What Are the Five Most Common Causes of Accidents?
Accident data from across the US has identified the five leading causes of vehicle accidents:
- Distracted driving. As previously mentioned, distracted driving continues to be the leading cause of all vehicle accidents, including pedestrian accidents.
- Speeding and reckless driving. When drivers exceed posted speed limits, they are less able to slow down or stop in time to avoid collisions with other vehicles, objects, or pedestrians.
- Driving under the influence (DUI). It is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver who causes an accident due to DUI will face not only civil liabilities for the victim’s damages but also criminal penalties such as fines, jail time, and suspension of their driver’s license.
- Bad weather. While California typically enjoys pleasant weather throughout most the year, severe storms, high winds, and other dangerous road conditions are leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in California and throughout the US.
- Moving violations. When drivers run stop signs, fail to stop for red lights, perform illegal U-turns, or commit other moving violations, they can easily cause severe accidents.
All drivers and pedestrians should understand these risks and remain vigilant at all times whenever there are risk factors present in the area.
What Happens If Distracted Driving Causes a Pedestrian Accident?
In the event a driver is illegally using a cell phone or otherwise distracted behind the wheel and causes a pedestrian accident, the driver will incur civil liability for the pedestrian’s damages. In the majority of pedestrian accidents, pedestrians suffer severe injuries, including broken bones, brain injuries, spinal injuries, and more. Some of these injuries may heal completely with time, but there is a high chance for an injured pedestrian to experience severe long-term medical complications from these accidents or even develop disabilities. Death is also much more likely in pedestrian accidents than most other vehicle accidents.
If you or a loved one are injured in a pedestrian accident, you have the right to pursue a civil action against the driver responsible for causing the accident. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can potentially secure compensation for medical expenses, both immediate and those you anticipate in the future, lost income, lost future earning capacity, property losses, and pain and suffering.
Establishing negligence is crucial if you expect to succeed with a personal injury claim. An injured plaintiff’s attorney will look for every piece of available evidence that shows the defendant in the claim failed to uphold their duty of care in a manner that resulted in the pedestrian’s damages. It is also possible for the driver to face criminal prosecution depending on how they caused the accident. For example, if a driver was severely intoxicated when they caused a pedestrian accident, they may face felony DUI charges that lead to substantial fines, long-term loss of driving privileges, restitution to the victim, and prison time. They will additionally face liability for a civil claim filed by the victim or their family.
In the event a pedestrian accident is fatal, the surviving family members of the victim would have the right to pursue a wrongful death action against the driver responsible for the accident. Wrongful death claims mirror personal injury claims in many ways, effectively replacing personal injury claims that victims could have filed had they survived their accidents.
Essential Evidence in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Establishing liability for a pedestrian accident is not always straightforward. For example, if you were injured by a driver who fled the scene, how would you identify the driver responsible for your injuries if they do not remain at the scene to take responsibility for the accident? This is just one example of a situation in which a pedestrian accident attorney is an invaluable asset to an injured pedestrian. If you need to track down the driver responsible for your damages, your attorney can coordinate with the local police, subpoena traffic camera footage, and even potentially secure CCTV footage from nearby businesses that may have caught the incident on tape.
Other forms of evidence that often come into play in pedestrian accident cases include vehicle computer data and driver cell phone records, both of which an experienced attorney will know how to secure on their client’s behalf. For example, you may need to prove that the driver who hit you was using their cell phone behind the wheel. If they deny this claim, their cell phone records cross-referenced with vehicle computer data could potentially prove that they were indeed using the phone at the exact time the accident occurred.
Eyewitness testimony is also valuable evidence in a pedestrian accident case. If a driver hit a pedestrian, there is a good chance that other pedestrians or drivers nearby witnessed the incident. A pedestrian accident attorney will assist their client in identifying eyewitnesses and collecting their statements for use in a personal injury case.
What to Expect in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
If you or a loved one suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, seeking legal representation as soon as possible offers the best chance of securing a recovery. Your attorney will work closely with you to gather all available evidence as quickly as possible to preserve its freshness. For example, human memory is notoriously fallible, so it is vital to gather eyewitness statements as soon as possible after a pedestrian accident. Your attorney will also work to gather evidence that establishes the liable driver’s negligence, whether they were distracted, intoxicated, or driving recklessly.
Pedestrian accidents often result in catastrophic injuries, and it can be very difficult for a plaintiff to navigate the legal processes necessary for securing compensation for their losses. This is yet another reason to choose an experienced pedestrian accident attorney to represent your claim. A seasoned personal injury lawyer can manage your case on your behalf and handle your legal concerns while you focus on rest and recovery.
At McLachlan Law, APC, we know how devastating a pedestrian accident can be, and we want to provide our clients and prospective clients with valuable legal information and the professional services they need after experiencing these incidents. If you need to discuss your recent accident with an experienced and reliable pedestrian accident attorney, contact McLachlan Law, APC today to schedule a case review with our team.