Thousands of pedestrians sustain injuries each year in traffic accidents, the vast majority of which are completely preventable. A total of 276 pedestrians died in accidents in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are numerous contributing factors and causes of road accidents for pedestrians, from poorly marked crosswalks to environmental factors.
One common theme that runs through many pedestrian traffic accidents is alcohol. The NHTSA reports that alcohol intoxication – both on the part of pedestrians and drivers – was a major factor in 49 percent of pedestrian accidents. In fatal pedestrian crashes in 2013, pedestrians were intoxicated in 34 percent of the cases, while drivers were intoxicated in 15 percent of them.
Below we discuss some of the common ways that both drivers and pedestrians contribute to pedestrian accidents. For legal advice or counsel for an accident that you or a loved one were involved in, call Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-642-2335 and schedule a consult.
In what ways do drivers contribute to accidents?
Carelessness, inattention, and recklessness are the underlying causes of most traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians. There are a lot of ways these forms of negligence show up in a collision. Below are some of the common motorist behaviors that often lead to pedestrian accidents.
- Failing to carefully check surroundings before maneuvering, e.g., failing to first check to see if someone is approaching or is already crossing before making a turn
- Texting, surfing the internet, or talking on the phone
- Looking, but not seeing (e.g., daydreaming)
- Grooming, eating, and reading
- Removing hands from the steering wheel, e.g. lighting a cigarette, changing dials, reaching for an object on the floor
- Talking/arguing with passengers
- Speeding and taking corners too fast
- Not observing crosswalks
- Rolling through stop signs
In what ways do pedestrians contribute to accidents?
Save intoxication, distraction is the primary way that pedestrians contribute to accidents. Looking down at their phones and stepping onto the roadway without observing their surroundings is common recipe for disaster, as is blaring loud music through earbuds. When pedestrians walk around without seeing or hearing traffic, it is literally just an accident waiting to happen.
Just like motorists, pedestrians must obey the rules of the road and behave safely. When they do not, they endanger themselves and everyone else on the road. Some of the ways they often contribute to accidents include the following:
- Crossing in the middle of the street instead of a crosswalk
- Walking around at night without bright or reflective clothing or lights
- Walking against traffic signal
- Jetting across the road to beat a signal
- Walking too close to traffic rather than using available footpaths
- Walking behind cars in a parking lot, instead of in front
If I am partly at fault, can I still recover damages after my pedestrian crash?
Pedestrians generally sustain the majority of the injuries and resulting damages in a collision with a car. If you or your loved one sustained injuries in a collision, you will need to file an injury or wrongful death claim to seek financial recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, emotional harms, and other damages.
But what if you were partly at fault for the accident? Are you still entitled to compensation from the other party? The answer is: most likely. As a pedestrian, you have the right to pursue compensation via a claim with the insurer or via a lawsuit against the driver in civil court, irrespective of whether you have a full or limited tort policy.
However, when you try to recover damages from another party (as opposed to from your own insurer,) fault/negligence will come into play. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey abide the modified comparative negligence rule. This rule provides that accident victims can recover damages, even when they are partly, up to 50 percent, at fault. In other words, the party most at fault is the one who will be liable for damages.
So, let us say a car struck you when you distractedly stepped off a curb into the path of an oncoming car because you were reading a text. The insurer finds you 50 percent at fault for inattention, and the driver 50 percent for driving too fast for conditions and not yielding right-of-way. In this case, you retain the right to file a claim or suit and recover damages.
The only caveat is that under the comparative negligence rule, your degree of fault will reduce your settlement. So, using this scenario, if you were 50 percent at fault and your damages total $500,000, you would receive $250,000.
How do I increase my chances of winning a higher settlement?
For starters, you can download a free copy of our eBook, Don’t Crash Again! A Car Accident Victim’s Guide to Maximizing Recovery, in which we share a ton of useful tips for improving your chances of a higher settlement.
Given the pivotal role that negligence plays in a pedestrian accident claim, it is critical that you assemble enough proof to show the other party was at fault. The more supporting evidence you can gather, the more likely you are to deflect fault and win your case. This can include items such as:
- The police report
- Statements from witnesses
- Photographs of the scene
- Video footage of the accident (perhaps from traffic cams or nearby security cams)
- Other case-specific records that demonstrate the driver’s fault, e.g., cell phone records, toxicology reports, etc.
You can also increase the likelihood of a successful claim and fuller recovery by having a pedestrian accident attorney assist you with your case. An attorney with experience handling cases of this nature will know which types of evidence to collect, how to arrange and present the case in a way that supports your best interests, and how to both negotiate and litigate when fighting for the funds you need.
Where can I find a pedestrian accident attorney in PA or NJ?
Our attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC, routinely help pedestrians and their loved ones with claims and suits in PA and NJ. We have a passion for ensuring our clients get the restitution they need and deserve so that they can take care of their current and future needs.