The dangers associated with driving a motor vehicle seem to be on display whenever you turn on a local TV news report. As it turns out, walking in a parking lot or on the sidewalk is not much safer. Almost 5,000 pedestrians lose their lives each year in collisions with motor vehicles. This represents 15 percent of all traffic accident deaths in the United States. The dangers faced by pedestrians also result in an astounding 70,000 people being treated for injuries in hospital emergency rooms every year.
Obviously, being hit by a car, truck, or other motor vehicle can lead to serious consequences for pedestrians. If the accident is caused by the negligence of another party, a pedestrian might have the right to file a lawsuit to collect compensation. It is important for a person to be aware of the causes of pedestrian accidents and understand the legal rights and obligations of each of the parties involved.
Common types of pedestrian accidents
A pedestrian is not only someone who is walking along the road or on a sidewalk. Pedestrians include people engaged in the following activities:
- Jogging and running
- Using a wheelchair
Accidents in which a pedestrian is injured can happen anywhere. The vehicle causing the injuries could be a car, an SUV, a truck, a motorcycle, or a bicycle.
Some of the common types of pedestrian accidents include the following:
- Intersection accidents: Busy intersections can be dangerous for a person crossing the street. The confusion created by vehicles going straight, vehicles changing lanes, and others turning left or right can make it difficult for drivers and pedestrians to remain focused on each other.
- Backing vehicles: Although new vehicles are equipped with rear-facing cameras and warning systems, a driver backing out of a driveway or out of a parking space might not be able to see a pedestrian standing or walking behind the vehicle. Trucks are particularly vulnerable to blind spots that could, depending upon the size of the vehicle, extend more than 25 feet behind the driver and make it impossible for them to see pedestrians.
- Roadway collisions: Pedestrians walking on sidewalks are not completely protected from an out-of-control vehicle that jumps a curb, but roadways without sidewalks place pedestrians in close proximity to moving vehicles and make them more vulnerable to being hit.
- Crushed or pinned: A pedestrian can be seriously injured by being pinned between two vehicles or between a vehicle and another object, such as a wall, telephone pole, or guardrail. For example, a driver who exits a vehicle to open a garage without placing it in park could be pinned by the rolling vehicle against the garage door and injured.
Causes of pedestrian accidents and the legal consequences
Driver negligence is a major cause of most pedestrian accidents. A few of the most common behaviors that drivers engage in that can result in a pedestrian becoming an accident victim might include:
- Distracted driving: Talking on the cellphone, texting while driving, looking at the display for the vehicle’s navigation system, talking to passengers in the vehicle, or engaging in any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the road can lead to an accident.
- Speeding: Driving at an excessive rate of speed cuts down on the amount of time a motorist has to react to road conditions and to avoid collisions with other vehicles and with pedestrians.
- Weather conditions: Wet, icy, or snow-covered road surfaces can make it difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. Accidents can occur when drivers fail to slow down or to use greater caution.
- Alcohol and drugs: Driver impairment from drugs or alcohol can affect judgment and reflexes.
- Failure to yield: Pedestrians generally have the right of way when crossing the street at a crosswalk. Oregon laws, for example, require motorists to stop and remain stopped when approaching a pedestrian crossing the street at a crosswalk.
The conduct engaged in by pedestrians might be a factor contributing to or causing accidents in which they are injured. Negligence on the part of a pedestrian could reduce the amount of damages the person might recover in a lawsuit under state laws in Oregon. The following are some examples of pedestrian negligence:
- Crossing in the middle of the street, also commonly known as jaywalking, could contribute to an accident.
- Being distracted by talking on a cellphone or texting while crossing the street.
- Wearing headphones or earbuds to listen to music could prevent a pedestrian from hearing an approaching vehicle.
The negligence laws in Oregon and other states require people to exercise reasonable care. This means that drivers are expected to maintain proper control over their vehicles, keep a proper lookout for people and other vehicles using the highways, and obey the traffic laws when operating their vehicles. Pedestrians are also expected to obey the laws, keep a proper lookout, and not engage in activities that could put them or others in danger.
Injuries suffered by victims of a pedestrian accident can be devastating
The severity of the injuries suffered by pedestrians can be attributed to the multiple impacts that may occur in a typical collision. For example, a person crossing a busy street who is hit by an oncoming car could suffer at least four separate impacts as follows:
- The initial impact occurs when the vehicle’s bumper strikes the person’s lower leg.
- The second impact happens when the person’s upper leg strikes the hood above the bumper.
- A third impact may occur if the person’s torso and head hits the car’s hood and windshield.
- Depending upon the speed of the vehicle, a fourth impact could occur if the person falls to the ground.
Some of the frequently treated injuries suffered by individuals struck by a moving vehicle include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury and concussion
- Back and spinal injuries
- Bone fractures
- Injuries to internal organs, such as the spleen, liver, and kidneys
- Pelvic injuries
Injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident can require long-term medical treatment and rehabilitation. Depending upon the severity of the injuries, the victim could suffer from a permanent disability, or in some situations, the injuries could result in the person’s death.
What to do if you are involved in a pedestrian accident?
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, you should remain at the scene. You should also do the following if you are physically able:
- Call the police or ask someone to call them.
- If you are injured, try to remain still and wait for emergency medical personnel to arrive.
- Unless you are the victim and your injuries prevent you from doing to, try to get the names of anyone who might have been a witness.
Contacting a personal injury attorney for legal advice is important whether you are the driver or pedestrian involved in an accident. An attorney can answer your questions and address concerns you might have about your rights and obligations, including a victim’s compensation rights, under state laws.