According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, almost 5,000 pedestrians die each year in accidents involving vehicles, and about 76,000 more suffer personal injuries. In addition, thousands of pedestrian accidents not involving vehicles occur each year. These usually involve construction, debris, or poorly maintained sidewalks and parking lots.
Whether a pedestrian is hit by a car, run over by heavy construction machinery, or injured by debris on a sidewalk, the cause is generally negligence—meaning someone’s failure to act responsibly (by speeding, failing to check for pedestrians, or neglecting to clear debris up in a timely manner) caused unnecessary harm.
Building Your Case
When negligence is involved, the injured person (known as the plaintiff in the case) can sue the person, group, or organization at fault for the accident (known as the defendant). However, to prove the defendant acted in a negligent manner, the plaintiff must successfully demonstrate several things:
- That the defendant had the plaintiff a legal duty in safeguarding the plaintiff from harm;
- That the defendant breached that legal duty by either not doing what he or she should have done, or by doing something he or she should not have done;
- That the defendant’s negligence caused an accident involving the plaintiff, and;
- That the plaintiff sustained an injury as a result of the plaintiff’s negligence.
Depending on the circumstances, there may be more than one person at fault. Liable (or “at fault”) parties may include:
- The driver of the vehicle that hits a pedestrian;
- The person or party responsible for ensuring that a parking lot, road, or sidewalk remains in good condition, and;
- The plaintiff him/herself.
Who Is At Fault?
While it may seem like the driver should be solely responsible for hitting a pedestrian with his or her car, a pedestrian may be at fault if he or she runs into the road, fails to use a crosswalk, or ignores walk signals when crossing an intersection. Pedestrians can also cause accidents by walking along a road at night, crossing a highway, or attending to a car crash that occurred in the roadway.
On the other hand, a driver may be at fault for things like speeding, driving under the influence, disobeying traffic signals, failing to signal before turning, failing to yield to pedestrians, and texting while driving. In addition, pedestrians under the age of nine are not generally held responsible for causing accidents, as they are considered incapable of using reasonable care to protect themselves or others; because of this, drivers have a greater duty of care toward child pedestrians.
State or federal agencies responsible for taking care of highways and roads may be at fault in an accident, especially if flaws in the road’s design (or failure to maintain repairs) contribute to an accident.
Pedestrian Accidents Not Involving Vehicles
Pedestrian accidents not involving vehicles or roadways are usually caused by negligence on the part of the property owner. These types of cases fall under what is known as “premises liability.” To receive compensation for an injury caused by a property owner’s neglect, the pedestrian must prove one of three things:
- The owner created the hazardous condition;
- The owner knew about the hazardous condition and failed to fix it, or;
- The hazardous condition existed for long enough that the owner should have known about it and should have fixed it before the accident occurred.
It is important to note that home and property owners are generally not responsible for maintaining the sidewalk outside of their property.
Statistics about Pedestrian Accidents
- In Washington, pedestrian accidents most often occur in urban areas, especially on weekends.
- About 75% of pedestrian deaths in Washington occur at night, and the highest number of fatal accidents tend to happen in December and January.
- 60% of collision-related accidents in Washington occur on city streets, carrying a high likelihood of pedestrian fatalities.
- In 2015, the number of pedestrian accidents increased by 10%, likely due to lower gas prices (an increase of car volume) and greater use of cellphones (increased negligence).
- Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise since 2005, and currently make up 15% of all traffic-related deaths.
- In Washington, pedestrian deaths make up between 12-14% of all vehicle-related deaths.
- One out of five pedestrian deaths are caused by crashes involving hit and run drivers.
- In 2016, there were 2,433 pedestrian accidents in Washington, 89 of which were fatal. 1,874 accidents caused injury, and 362 of those 1,874 caused serious injuries.
- Alcohol use is involved in 49% of fatal vehicle accidents involving pedestrians.
- Approximately one in five children killed in vehicle-related accidents is a pedestrian.
- In the U.S., on average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in vehicle-related accidents.
What to Do Following a Pedestrian Accident
Many of the same practices Lehmbecker Law recommends for what to do after a car accident also apply to a pedestrian accident. If you become involved in a pedestrian accident, you should immediately call the police and wait for help to arrive before attempting to leave the scene of the accident. Avoid giving statements at the scene, and write down witnesses’ names and contact information.
Once your injuries have been assessed and information is being gathered, it is important to never accept any kind of “bargain” or “deal” made in an attempt to keep an incident from escalating into a court case without first consulting an experienced attorney with years of experience in pedestrian accidents.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident that resulted in a personal injury, contact Lehmbecker Law today to discuss your case during a free consultation session. We will work with you and for you to seek compensation from any and all responsible parties.