When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle the injuries are typically very serious or fatal, even in a low speed collision. Driver negligence is often at the heart of pedestrian accident claims, but pedestrians themselves are not exempt from responsibility when their own actions have placed them in harm’s way. Hit-and-run can make a pedestrian accident claim more challenging, but in many cases you can still receive compensation for your injuries.
Where Pedestrian Accidents Occur
Pedestrian accidents can occur anywhere that vehicles and pedestrians are both present. High speeds, poor lighting, and driver inattention are common contributors to pedestrian accidents. Areas in which pedestrian accidents occur include:
- Shoulder of road
- On-ramp or exit ramp
- Bridge or overpass
- Parking lot
- Bus stop
- Front yard
- Railroad crossing
- Bike path
Causes and Responsibility for Pedestrian Accidents
Many people mistakenly believe that motorists who hit pedestrians are always considered to be at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, this misconception combined with the severity of pedestrian injuries and the belief that criminal charges will apply, may contribute to hit-and-run incidents which put the victim at a much greater risk of dying from their injuries. It may also embolden some pedestrians to engage in risky behavior.
Driver negligence is a common cause of pedestrian accidents and negligent drivers can be held responsible in pedestrian accident lawsuits. Pedestrians who contribute to their injuries by their own negligence, such as jaywalking, may have their compensation reduced by their portion of blame and in some states may not be eligible for compensation at all.
A pedestrian accident is not always the fault of the driver or the pedestrian. When roadway defects, such as poorly designed intersections and malfunctioning traffic signals, lead to pedestrian accidents the entity responsible for design, construction, and maintenance of the roadway can be held responsible. This is typically a government entity. If there is a history of pedestrian accidents in the location where your accident occurred your attorney may use this as evidence of a roadway defect.
A pedestrian accident often occurs secondary to another accident or mechanical trouble which forces a pedestrian into traffic or onto the shoulder in an unsafe location. Responsibility in this type of pedestrian accident will depend on the unique circumstances. For instance, if a defective vehicle was the underlying cause, the auto or parts manufacturer may be held responsible.
Sadly, improperly executed high speed pursuits by law enforcement officers also result in pedestrian injuries and deaths. These cases can be very complicated and typically have very short time limits for taking action.
Finally, bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents are on the rise. Bicyclists can be held responsible for the injuries and deaths that they cause, and are expected to follow the same rules which apply to motor vehicles, including staying off the sidewalk.