Pedestrian accidents have become a serious problem nationwide. The number of pedestrians killed in accidents is on the rise over the last several years. It comes as no surprise that studies have shown that cell phone use by both drivers and pedestrians is a major contributing factor for this terrible trend. It seems everyone has their heads down staring into their “smartphones” these days. I confess, I am occasionally guilty myself. Another factor is the increase in popularity of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Due to an SUV’s greater physical size and taller front ends, impacts with pedestrians are more likely to cause serious head injuries and death as opposed to leg injuries when a car is involved.
We have represented many pedestrians seriously injured after being struck by cars, trucks and SUV’s. In several cases the causes of the collisions have involved factors such as:
- Texting while driving
- Turning on city streets without first looking to see if a pedestrian was crossing
- Failing to address stop or slow signs, school zones, and crosswalks
- A truck driver unable to see a person walking in front of their grill at a stop light.
What If You’re Not in A Crosswalk When You Get Hit?
But what if someone is NOT in a crosswalk and gets hit? How does this fact affect a person’s right to seek compensation for their injuries? Who is at fault in this situation? These are questions we get from clients all the time. The answers differ based on the facts of each case, but I will attempt to simplify the analysis.GOT QUESTIONS… JUST CLICK HERE!
Just because someone crosses a street outside of a crosswalk does NOT automatically prevent them from successfully claiming and recovering their damages in a personal injury claim. The law requires a deeper examination into the circumstances of the accident for an answer to who was at fault and to what degree each party is responsible. Being outside of a crosswalk is simply one factor to consider.
An example to illustrate this point is in order. Let’s say a person decides to cross a street outside of a crosswalk. They step from a curb, look both ways, see no traffic on the street they intend to cross and deem it safe to cross. As they get 10 feet into the street, a driver in a car taking a left hand turn onto the street they are crossing fails to look to his left before completing his turn and hits the pedestrian in the middle of the street. In this example, there is a good chance (assuming you can prove the facts I have presented) that the driver of the car will be determined to be 50% or more at fault and the pedestrian will recover at least part of their damages. Why? Because the pedestrian took due care to ensure no vehicles were on the street. The driver in contrast failed to exercise due care by not looking where he was driving. However, because the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk he or she MAY be determined to be partially at fault for their own injuries. The driver could argue that since he knew there was no crosswalk in that area, he had no reasonable expectation that someone would be crossing there. Is that a good argument? I don’t think so, but a jury or insurance company may and that is what truly matters. Both the driver and the pedestrian are legally permitted to rely on the other to exercise due care. The driver can reasonably expect that someone wouldn’t just run out into moving traffic. The pedestrian can reasonably rely on the driver to look where they are going etc.
The point of the above example is to make clear that if you are injured as a pedestrian you should NEVER try to assess the “who’s fault was it?” question WITHOUT first consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Their experience may shed light on facts and arguments you might not have considered. Often when we handle pedestrian cases we need to promptly investigate the accident scene, find and speak to witnesses, obtain video surveillance from cities, towns or private businesses and hire accident reconstruction engineers to quickly establish and support our client’s case. Pedestrian accidents can be complicated and for that reason, people injured in such an accident should get an experienced injury lawyer involved as soon as possible. Prompt and thorough investigation and preparation is the key to successfully pursuing such cases.