We often see or hear about car crashes in the news, and we all know someone who has been involved in a crash, but you rarely hear about a pedestrian accident. Nevertheless, they are probably more frequent than you think, approximately 15,000 pedestrians in New York are injured each year in motor vehicle related accidents.
What are the causes of pedestrian accidents?
There are various types of pedestrian accidents caused by the negligence of a driver, the pedestrian himself, or even the party responsible for maintaining the roadway. Unsurprisingly alcohol involvement for the driver and/or pedestrian was reported in nearly half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2016. Here are some other statistics about pedestrian accidents:
- 70% of accidents occur away from intersections
- 75% of reported accidents happen when it is dark
- 70% of the pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2015 were males
- 76% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas compared to 24% in rural areas
You don’t need to be crossing the street to get hit by a vehicle. A person whose car breaks down may get hit by a passing vehicle while trying to push it off the road or someone may be in the roadway because of a previous crash, having been already injured or thrown from their vehicles. In other cases, people may be exchanging information, inspecting crash damage, or waiting for their car to be towed. There are numerous scenarios that are potentially dangerous to pedestrians.
Is it always the driver’s fault?
If the driver’s actions cause an injury to a pedestrian, and there are no other intervening forces that could have caused the accident, the driver may be considered negligent. In many cases, it may seem obvious who was at fault, but the courts look at numerous factors when evaluating the facts in a negligence lawsuit.
Drivers of cars, trucks and buses are required to exercise reasonable care while behind the wheel, but they often fail to do so which is why accidents happen. Some common factors which contribute to negligence are:
- Distracted driving (especially while using cellphones and texting)
- Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning
- Disregarding dangerous weather or traffic conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
What about pedestrian negligence?
Pedestrians must also obey traffic regulations especially on crosswalks and when a road does not have sidewalks. The care they are required to take is proportionate to the danger to be avoided and reasonably anticipated consequences. A pedestrian may also be considered partly negligent if they failed to exercise care and contributed to the cause of their own injuries. Some instances whereby pedestrians may be considered negligent are:
- Darting in front of traffic
- Walking in prohibited areas such as on interstate highways
- Walking while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- Not yielding when a car is too close to stop before the crosswalk
Pedestrians get the worst of it
Drivers can have a serious car accident and come out unscathed, as the car acts as an armored protection. Pedestrians on the other hand have no protection and are very likely to suffer serious injuries if they are hit by a car. In fact, the faster a vehicle travels, the more likely it is that the pedestrian will be killed. Tragically, you are much more likely to be killed when you are hit by a car while walking than if the accident had occurred while you were inside your own vehicle. Head injuries and broken bones are two of the most common types of pedestrian injuries. However, damage is often not limited to immediate physical injuries, there can also be long term damage or follow-up treatments that may be needed. You also need to take into consideration the loss of income, the impact injuries may have on your daily life, and lost opportunities.
What does No-Fault mean for pedestrians?
Fortunately, New York State’s No-Fault Law applies to pedestrians too. The insurance of the car involved in the accident is required to cover medical bills up to $50,000 regardless of who was at fault. It’s a complicated process to file a claim and insurance companies try to take advantage of any mistake a claimant may make (Click here for 10 insurance company tricks to you need to know) An experienced attorney can help you through this process, however some basic conditions must be met:
- The accident must have occurred in New York State and the vehicle must be registered in New York State.
- The injured party must be a pedestrian struck by or in contact with the motor vehicle.
- The vehicle must be a car, truck, bus, taxi (not a motorcycle) or other vehicle covered by New York’s No-Fault law.
- The vehicle must have an insurance policy sold in New York or issued by a company licensed to do business in the State of New York.
If you have SUM coverage through your own automobile insurance you will also be covered as a pedestrian, click here to learn how it works.
What should you do if you were in an accident?
It is important to remember that every pedestrian accident is unique. If you are involved in an accident you should do the following:
- Call 911 if there are any serious injuries or a dangerous situation has been created as a result of the accident. Ensure you and any other injured parties receive the medical attention needed.
- File a police report at the scene (Here’s why you should always get a police report)
- Don’t leave the scene of the accident before help arrives
- Gather names and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Don’t make any statements to anyone, including drivers and insurers
Once you have received medical assistance it is wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who will be able to assist you in understanding what your next steps should be. Attorney Greg Bagen has been helping people in Putnam County for over 40 years in personal injury cases, contact him for a free consultation.