Pedestrian accidents tend to be some of the most damaging motor vehicle accidents when it comes to the injuries the victim experiences. Since a pedestrian has little to no protection from crash impact forces, catastrophic and fatal injuries are very likely, especially when the driver hits the pedestrian at high speed. Both drivers and pedestrians should know where pedestrian accidents are most likely to occur. Drivers can limit their risk of incurring liability for pedestrian accidents, and pedestrians can reduce the chance of experiencing such accidents if they know where these accidents are most likely to occur.
No matter where a pedestrian accident happens, the victim and their family must know their options for legal recourse against the driver responsible for causing the accident. McLachlan Law, APC can provide the legal counsel you need after you or a loved one suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident. Review the following information concerning the locations where pedestrian accidents are most likely to happen and consider whether you may have grounds to take legal action for your recent accident.
Where Do Most Pedestrian Fatalities Occur?
Accident data from across the United States reports that pedestrian accidents are most likely to occur in densely populated urban areas. This is due to the simple fact that these metropolitan areas generally have more pedestrian traffic than suburban and rural areas.
California is one of the most densely populated states in the US. While Northern California features lots of open farmland and a sparse population, Southern California is dotted with sprawling metropolitan areas, and even suburban areas on the outskirts of the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles see lots of pedestrian traffic.
Pedestrian accidents happen in many different places in urban areas. Crosswalks are common sites for pedestrian accidents to occur when drivers fail to stop for red lights or stop signs. Additionally, pedestrian accidents can happen when drivers make illegal turns or turn onto streets without looking for pedestrians crossing in front of them. Pedestrian accidents can occur virtually anywhere if a pedestrian jaywalks, or neglects to cross a road at a designated crosswalk.
Where Do You See the Most Pedestrians?
Pedestrians are most commonly seen in urban areas. Drivers who need to navigate urban areas should use extra caution, even when traffic signals give them the right of way. Unfortunately, some pedestrians do not always heed posted traffic signs and may cross streets illegally. When it comes to pedestrian accidents that happen this way, jaywalking will not be an affirmative defense for the driver and allow them to avoid liability. Drivers have a higher duty of care on the roads than pedestrians due to the fact that their vehicles are inherently dangerous and potentially deadly to pedestrians.
What Is the Most Frequent Cause of Pedestrian Accidents?
Available statistics indicate that distracted driving is not only the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States but also the top cause of pedestrian accidents. Even brief distractions can result in devastating pedestrian accidents. When a driver takes their attention away from operating their vehicle for even a few seconds, they may not regain their focus in time to avoid a serious accident.
Why Do Pedestrians Get Hit by Cars?
While pedestrian accidents most commonly occur due to distracted driving, these accidents occur for many other reasons, too:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) is another leading cause of pedestrian accidents. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol is illegal and very dangerous. An inebriated driver may not notice a pedestrian in time to avoid hitting them and is more likely to commit moving violations that cause pedestrian accidents. A drunk driver who hits a pedestrian will face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability for the victim’s damages.
- Speeding and reckless driving can lead to catastrophic pedestrian accidents. When a driver operates their vehicle at too high of a speed, engages in dangerous driving maneuvers, or fails to yield the right-of-way when necessary, they put everyone around them at significant risk of injury.
- Moving violations such as running red lights and stop signs, making illegal turns and U-turns, and violating posted traffic signs are also common causes of pedestrian accidents.
- Bad weather can also cause pedestrian accidents. For example, a rain-slicked or icy road can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and strike a pedestrian.
- Poor visibility is another common cause of pedestrian accidents in California and throughout the US. Drivers must use extra caution when driving at night or in periods of poor visibility.
By understanding the most common causes of pedestrian accidents and knowing the locations where these accidents are most likely to occur, both drivers and pedestrians can hopefully limit their risk of experiencing these incidents.
Can a Pedestrian Sue if They Were Hit While Jaywalking?
California state law places a higher duty of care on drivers than pedestrians due to the fact that a car is easily capable of inflicting severe or fatal wounds on a pedestrian. Even if a pedestrian suffers injuries due to jaywalking, the driver who hit them will still incur greater liability. California’s pure comparative negligence law comes into play in such cases. This law allows a personal injury plaintiff to recover compensation for their damages even if they were partially responsible for causing those damages.
When pure comparative negligence law applies to a pedestrian accident case, the judge overseeing the case will determine what percentage of fault lies with the plaintiff and reduce their case award by this percentage. For example, if a plaintiff claims $100,000 in damages but the judge determines that their jaywalking constitutes 30% fault for the accident, they will lose 30% of the case award and would only receive $70,000.
What Happens If a Driver Causes a Pedestrian Accident Due to Distraction?
In the event a driver causes a pedestrian accident because they were not paying enough attention to the road, they will face liability for the pedestrian’s damages. Additionally, if the driver violated any relevant laws in causing the accident, such as committing a moving violation, driving while intoxicated, or using a cell phone behind the wheel, they may face criminal prosecution as well.
The injured plaintiff can pursue a personal injury claim against the driver responsible for causing their injuries. The plaintiff’s attorney will gather all available evidence to establish the driver’s liability, including traffic camera footage, cell phone records, and vehicle computer data. Once the plaintiff’s legal team establishes the defendant’s liability, they will move to proving the full extent of the plaintiff’s claimable damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the incident.
Can a Driver Go to Jail for Causing a Pedestrian Accident?
If a driver causes a pedestrian accident due to illegal behavior, they may face jail time and other criminal penalties in addition to civil liability for the victim’s damages. For example, if a driver is under the influence of alcohol and hits a pedestrian, they will likely face some amount of jail time for aggravated DUI. Additionally, if the pedestrian dies from the accident, they could face charges of vehicular manslaughter or even second-degree murder, both of which can lead to several years in prison.
What Damages Can an Injured Pedestrian Recover from a Personal Injury Claim?
When a pedestrian accident victim survives their injuries, they have the right to pursue a civil action against the driver responsible for causing their accident. Personal injury statutes in California allow plaintiffs to recover multiple types of compensation based on the nature and severity of their injuries:
- A personal injury plaintiff in a pedestrian accident claim can recover compensation for any and all medical expenses incurred from the incident. This includes immediate expenses like ambulance fees and emergency room bills, as well as long-term costs for rehabilitation, physical therapy, and other restorative treatment.
- The plaintiff can claim lost income in their lawsuit if the incident prevents them from working. If they can eventually return to work, they can recover lost wages for the time they were in recovery. If their injuries cause permanent disability that prevents them from working at all, their attorney can help them recover compensation for their lost earning capacity.
- Plaintiffs in personal injury claims have the right to seek compensation for property losses. If a pedestrian was carrying any personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident, they can recover the cost of repairing or replacing their property.
- California law allows personal injury plaintiffs to recover compensation for physical pain, emotional suffering, and psychological distress. The amount received typically hinges on the amount of the plaintiff’s other claimed damages and the long-term implications of their injuries. For example, a plaintiff who develops a permanent disability and diminished quality of life due to their injuries will receive much more in pain and suffering compensation than a plaintiff whose injuries are expected to heal completely.
Plaintiffs in personal injury claims can also sometimes receive additional compensation if the defendants in their claim engaged in illegal actions in causing these accidents. Judges will sometimes award punitive damages to punish egregiously negligent or intentionally harmful behavior. If an at-fault driver is criminally prosecuted, restitution to the victim could form a portion of their sentence.
What Happens If a Driver Kills a Pedestrian?
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents have some of the highest rates of fatality among all motor vehicle accident types. When a driver causes the death of a pedestrian, they will face not only liability for a wrongful death action filed by the victim’s family but also potential criminal prosecution depending on how the accident occurred.
In the event your family needs to pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one who died in a pedestrian accident, it’s vital to seek legal representation from an attorney who has solid experience handling wrongful death claims. While these lawsuits are functionally similar to personal injury cases in many ways, California upholds specific laws concerning the damages available to plaintiffs and who has the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased relative.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit?
If you or a loved one suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer is the best available resource for determining your options for legal recourse. Hiring an attorney to represent your interests will not only streamline the legal proceedings you face but also increase the overall recovery you receive from your claim.
Many people, unfortunately, make the mistake of believing that hiring legal counsel would amount to money wasted on legal fees. If fault is clear for a pedestrian accident, they may believe they can handle representing their own interests in a civil claim. The reality is that navigating the civil court system without any formal legal training or experience is very difficult. It’s likely that a plaintiff attempting self-representation would overlook open channels of compensation, resulting in less compensation than they could have secured with the help of an attorney.
It is also possible that attempting self-representation could jeopardize a case entirely. The plaintiff could make procedural errors or mistakes on their court paperwork or miss deadlines that lead to a judge throwing out their claim before it really begins. Hiring an experienced attorney not only prevents procedural issues from interfering with your claim but will likely yield a more substantial amount of compensation than the plaintiff could have managed to secure on their own. Additionally, the plaintiff can focus on their recovery while their attorney manages their legal affairs on their behalf.
What to Expect From Your Pedestrian Accident Attorney
At McLachlan Law, APC, our firm has years of experience handling difficult personal injury claims on behalf of our clients. We understand that pedestrian accidents often lead to devastating injuries that can completely change the victim’s life, and our goal is to maximize our client’s recovery in every case we accept. As your pedestrian accident lawyer, Attorney Mike McLachlan will look for every piece of available evidence that establishes the defendant’s liability for your pedestrian accident.
Our firm can subpoena traffic camera data, obtain eyewitness statements, and review relevant police reports to positively identify the driver responsible for your pedestrian accident. We will then thoroughly review the full scope of your damages to ensure maximum compensation from your claim. If you are ready to talk about your recent pedestrian accident with a compassionate and experienced personal injury attorney, contact McLachlan Law, APC today to schedule a case evaluation with our team.