Walking is supposed to be good for your health—and people of all ages are encouraged to do it as much as possible. But there’s a risk to walking that might not occur to you until you’ve been involved in it yourself—being struck and injured or killed by a car.
Pedestrian accidents are on the rise. In 2018, approximately 6,283 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents according to the NHTSA—the most since 1990.
What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
When walking near a road, there are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of being struck by a car. These include:
- Road and Sidewalk Quality
It can be dangerous to drink and walk near a road.
According to the CDC, a large majority (47%) of car crashes involving pedestrians also involve intoxication—either on the part of the driver, the pedestrian, or both.
It’s more common, however, for the pedestrian to be intoxicated. One in three pedestrians fatally struck by a car had a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit, while the driver was intoxicated in only 17% of these accidents.
So approximately twice as many pedestrians were intoxicated in fatal accidents as drivers.
Approximately 20% of all pedestrians killed in car accidents were aged 65 or older. Children under the age of 15 also make up a large percentage.
The density of the population contributes to the likelihood that you will be struck by a car. Most pedestrian deaths happen in urban areas.
However, most fatal pedestrian accidents do not occur at intersections. They are more likely to happen when people attempt to cross highways on foot, or cross at parts of the road where drivers are not expecting to stop.
Visibility also plays a big role in pedestrian deaths. Many fatal car accidents that involve a pedestrian occur at night. That’s why pedestrians are urged to wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight when walking at night.
Road and Sidewalk Quality
Badly-maintained roads and sidewalks can contribute to pedestrian accidents. So can debris collecting on sidewalks and walkways, as well as roadside construction that forces pedestrians to walk close to or even in the road to avoid it.
Do You Have Legal Recourse if You Were Struck By a Car?
If you were struck and injured by a car, you may be able to recover damages from the driver—or the property owner if debris in the walkway or other property issues were a contributing factor. In some cases, more than one party may be found liable.
To successfully hold another party accountable, you’ll have to prove that this party’s negligence caused the accident or significantly contributed to it. To prove that someone else was negligent, you’ll have to show that they:
- Owed you a legal duty of care
- Failed in fulfilling that duty
- This directly caused your injuries
Lawsuits involving pedestrian-vehicle accidents are often decided based on who owes a “duty of care” to whom under the circumstances, and whether that party was negligent.
Both pedestrians and drivers are expected to exercise reasonable care and follow the rules, and property owners are expected to maintain their properties.
If you as the pedestrian were found to be negligent—such as by being intoxicated or crossing in an unsafe place—you may be held partially or fully responsible.
The Driver’s Duty of Care
“Duty of care” is a standard of responsibility that people are held to when doing something that could be dangerous to others. If an individual has breached their duty of care and caused someone’s injury, they may be found negligent—and could be held liable.
Drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road and to avoid driving while intoxicated. Some factors that may result in drivers being found negligent in pedestrian accidents include:
- Driving over the speed limit
- Talking on the phone or texting while driving
- Disregarding traffic signs
- Not using a turn signal when turning
- Driving without heed to weather or road conditions
- Drinking or using drugs while driving
- Failing to heed signs alerting drivers to the presence of children
The Pedestrian’s Duty of Care
Pedestrians also have a responsibility to follow certain rules for their own safety and the safety of those around them.
If you were injured as a pedestrian in a vehicle accident and you take your claim to court, your own behavior will be examined in addition to that of the plaintiff. It’s possible you may have engaged in risky behavior that contributed to the accident.
Some common reasons pedestrians may be found at least partially culpable for their own injuries include:
- Failing to cross at a crosswalk
- Ignoring the “walk” signal
- Attempting to cross a high-traffic road, such as a highway
- Walking in the road at night while wearing non-reflective clothing
- Being intoxicated
The Property Owner’s Duty of Care
Another contributing factor to some pedestrian-vehicle accidents involves the state of sidewalks and walkways. If they are blocked or in bad repair, pedestrians may be forced into the road where they are at risk of being hit by a car.
If a property owner’s negligence was a contributing factor in a pedestrian-vehicle accident, this is usually considered a matter of premises liability. In general, property owners are expected to keep their property in good repair and warn people of any hazards.
A private property owner isn’t always responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks or walkways outside of their properties. Sometimes the fault lies with a poorly-maintained public sidewalk that is the responsibility of the city or town.
However, business owners are usually held responsible for keeping even public sidewalks outside their property swept and cleared, and some courts will hold a property owner responsible for public walkways if they are used more or less exclusively by people accessing that property.
If you are seeking to sue a property owner, you have to prove that:
- There were dangerous conditions on that property
- The owner was aware of the condition
- Despite knowing, they failed to repair the condition or warn people about it
- The dangerous conditions existed on that property long enough that the owner would have had time to repair it prior to your accident
What Documents Will You Need in a Court Case?
If you were struck by a car as a pedestrian, there will be a number of documents and records that will prove vital to recovering damages in court.
Some of those have to be collected at the scene of the accident, which may be a lot to ask if you were seriously injured—so hopefully someone can act on your behalf if that was the case. The information to recover includes:
A Police Report
It’s to your advantage to file a police report as soon as the accident occurs. In some states, you are legally required to file a report within a certain length of time, especially if the damages exceed a certain amount.
Of course, when the accident has just happened, you won’t know how much the damages add up to—so it’s best just to file one.
The police report should contain a description of the accident, the contact information of everyone involved (including witnesses), and statements from witnesses and the driver.
Pictures From the Scene
Photos play a big role in recovery of damages as well. Some things you should take pictures of (from a safe location) include:
- Damage to the car
- Tire tracks on the road
- The weather at the time of the accident
- Position of the sun where you were standing or walking at the time of the accident
- Conditions on the walkway or sidewalk
- Witnesses and witness contact information
- The driver’s license plate number
- The police officer and their badge number
Your Medical Records
When you’ve been injured as a pedestrian, the injuries can be horrific. You may need to be transported directly to the nearest hospital by ambulance.
But even if your injuries are not that severe, it’s still crucial to see a doctor as soon as you can. Your medical records will be an important part of your legal case.
If You’ve Been in a Pedestrian Accident, Call Your Lawyer
In many states, there’s a statute of limitations on how long you have to bring a suit in a car accident case—including one involving a pedestrian. In Georgia, you only have two years.
We have helped many people involved in vehicle-pedestrian accidents in Georgia recover damages and hold the person at fault accountable. We can help you as well.