Numerous media accounts have detailed the rise in pedestrian accident fatalities throughout the country. In recent years, the number of people who died in pedestrian accidents exceeded 7,500, which was the highest total since the early 1980s. For every person who dies in a pedestrian accident, there are numerous more who suffer severe injuries and suffer life-changing impacts.
In a pedestrian accident case, you have a legal right to receive payment for your damages if you show that the driver was negligent. Because you have likely suffered severe injuries, it follows that pedestrian accident settlements and jury awards are higher than those in other cases.
You need to contact an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. If you cannot do it yourself, someone else should make the call on your behalf because time is essential when seeking financial compensation. You can lose evidence quickly, and the insurance company may actively try to throw sand into the gears.
Drivers may strike pedestrians for several reasons, and the only question is whether the driver or pedestrian (or some combination of the two) was to blame for the accident.
Here are some causes of pedestrian accidents. If you suffer injuries, a pedestrian accident attorney can evaluate your best legal rights and options.
Traffic Violations and Negligence
Drivers may be driving at a safe speed with their eyes on the road. However, they may have missed the traffic sign, not seen the pedestrian, or may have been in unfamiliar territory and not have known to expect a crosswalk.
Even still, a reasonable driver stops whenever required and yields the right-of-way when necessary. Simply making a mistake will still be negligence if you file a pedestrian accident lawsuit.
One of the main culprits for the spike in serious pedestrian accident injuries is distracted driving. Motorists must always be focused, mainly because they may get little warning that they are approaching a crosswalk. Unfortunately, they are often devoting attention to other tasks behind the wheel.
The biggest distraction these days is the mobile device. The average driver takes five seconds to read or send a text and several extra seconds to refocus on the road. In that time, the driver may have traveled hundreds of feet and missed key signs that warn them that they may encounter pedestrians.
Another leading cause of distracted driving pedestrian accidents is the interactive screen in newer models of cars. Drivers may use this screen to read texts or adjust their music. Even though they are not looking down at a phone, they still have their eyes off the road enough to cause a pedestrian accident.
The pandemic coincided with a surge of reckless driving throughout the country. With less traffic, more drivers got used to acting as they pleased behind the wheel and maintained these habits when traffic returned to the roads as the pandemic eased. Experts blame the increase in reckless driving on the fraying of social norms.
Reckless driving reduces drivers' time to react to traffic challenges in their vicinity. When drivers are going too fast or weaving in and out of traffic, it will take them longer to focus and brake to avoid an accident. In addition, the driver's high speed will make the severity of a pedestrian accident far worse. Once the driver's speed exceeds 40 miles per hour, the chances of surviving a pedestrian accident drop dramatically.
Aggressive driving is closely related to reckless driving. Here, the driver may be aware of a crosswalk and know they must stop for pedestrians. However, the driver deliberately places their own need to keep going above their legal obligation and refuses to stop. Drivers may consciously choose not to yield the right-of-way when required to by law.
Even if drivers yield, they may engage in unsafe practices near crosswalks, such as stopping suddenly or changing lanes in the middle of a crosswalk.
Drunk or Impaired Driving
According to federal statistics, alcohol plays a role in nearly half of the pedestrian accident fatalities in the country. In most cases, it is the driver who is under the influence, although some accidents are a result of drunk pedestrians trying to cross the road when they should not.
Driving under the influence of alcohol causes a driver to lose some of their inhibitions. It also distorts their perception of what they see, causing them not to notice pedestrians in the roadway or see a crosswalk. Alcohol also has been known to significantly slow reaction times.
In addition, an increase in marijuana usage has also resulted in more severe pedestrian accident injuries because cannabis can distort a driver's perceptions and slow their reaction to stimuli.
Poor Visibility and Lighting
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 76 percent of traffic fatalities occur at night, and the fatality rate is three times higher at night than it is during the day. The main reason for this higher rate is that drivers often cannot see pedestrians.
Drivers depend on adequate lighting at night, where they can see pedestrians on the roadway. Pedestrian walkways need sufficient lighting, and significant crossings must also be well-lit.
The fact that the accident occurred after dark is not enough to absolve the driver of responsibility. Motorists still need to be alert and on the lookout for pedestrians, no matter the time of day. They cannot use the fact that it was dark or that the pedestrian was not wearing reflective clothing as an excuse to avoid being held liable.
Poorly Designed Crosswalks and Intersections
Sometimes, the driver may share the blame with other conditions that caused the accident. The driver needs to know where to stop for a pedestrian and depend on adequate signage that warns them where a crosswalk is. It may be hard for the driver to stop when there is a faded crosswalk on the ground or no sign accompanying it.
Additionally, there may be some intersections where there should be a pedestrian signal. However, the local authorities may still need to install one, and if there are signals, they may not work.
Sometimes, you can hold a municipality responsible for infrastructure deficiencies, but these occasions are rare. If the crosswalk is in poor shape or inadequately signed, you might consider adding the government to the lawsuit as a defendant. However, you should be aware of special rules when suing a government.
Your Lawyer May Need to Defend You from Allegations About Your Conduct
No matter the accident's cause, insurance companies try to blame pedestrians. They know they can be on the hook for a lot of money if their driver is entirely to blame for the accident. Therefore, they try to look for ways to shift or spread the blame.
Your lawyer's job is to defend you from allegations that you (or your loved one) acted improperly. They may need to gather evidence that shows that you did nothing wrong in the face of any contention. Defending you is necessary to ensure that you get total compensation for your pedestrian accident injuries.
What You Should Do After a Pedestrian Accident?
You may be entitled to significant financial compensation if you show that the driver was to blame for the accident and your damages. Unfortunately, the insurance company always makes the process challenging. You may be dealing with significant injuries, or you may have lost a loved one, yet you still need to engage in the legal process.
In addition to getting medical help and following all the doctor's recommendations, you must contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney immediately after the accident. Your lawyer will be the one who handles the details of the legal process to maximize your financial compensation and will deal with the insurance companies.
How Your Lawyer Will Work to Prove Liability?
- Witness testimony from people who saw the accident
- Pictures from the scene of the accident
- The police report written by the law enforcement officer who showed up at the scene
- Video or traffic camera footage
- Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert who can recreate what happened
Then, your lawyer will quantify your hardships so you can seek damages. You only have one chance to get a pedestrian accident settlement because you will sign a release when you get your money, pledging that you no longer hold the insurance company responsible in your case.
Your lawyer will file a pedestrian accident claim or lawsuit on your behalf. Either way, you will be dealing with the driver's insurance company, which has to defend the policyholder in all legal proceedings. Insurance companies are never charitable and will do everything possible to make things more challenging. They want to wear you down, so you may be willing to accept less than you deserve to end the legal proceedings and get some money.
You Will Have to Fight for Every Dollar in Compensation
If you have filed a claim, the insurance company may accept liability after seeing the evidence and will make you a settlement offer in an attempt to resolve the case. In most cases, this offer will not even be close to enough to compensate you fully for your damages.
Your attorney will then negotiate with the insurance company to secure more money for you. If the insurance company is being unreasonable, your attorney can always file a lawsuit in court on your behalf. Even if you filed a lawsuit, there is a high probability that your case will not go to a personal injury trial and will likely settle before the scheduled date.
Do Not Fear About How You Will Afford a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
You must hire a lawyer right after your accident because too many things can happen that may compromise your legal case. Your lawyer's job is to protect your rights, and the longer you go without hiring a lawyer, the harder it will be to prove your case. You may be unable to find a lawyer if you wait many months after the accident to contact one.
You do not have to worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer. Pedestrian accident cases are contingent; you only owe your lawyer money if you win. Even then, it will come from your case’s proceeds and not from your pocket. You will not need to pay your attorney for their time and services if you do not win.
Never Wait to Consult a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Pedestrian accidents can be devastating, resulting in severe injuries and even loss of life. Always seek legal guidance as soon as possible. Consulting with a pedestrian accident attorney can help you understand your rights, navigate the legal process, and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
One of the common mistakes people make after a pedestrian accident is waiting too long to consult an attorney. Time is of the essence in these cases, as evidence can quickly disappear, witnesses may forget important details, and statutes of limitations can expire. By seeking legal counsel promptly, you can gather and preserve vital evidence needed to build a strong case.
A pedestrian accident attorney brings experience and knowledge to the table. They understand the complexities of pedestrian accident cases and can guide you through the legal process. They will investigate the accident, analyze the evidence, assess liability, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Having an experienced attorney by your side can significantly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Never wait to consult a Texas personal injury attorney if you have been in a pedestrian accident. Prompt legal representation is imperative to protect your rights and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation. An attorney will ensure that you have the necessary support, expertise, and guidance throughout the process, allowing you to focus on healing and moving forward. Remember, time is of the essence, so don't delay in seeking professional legal assistance.