A 2019 study found Georgia to be the sixth most dangerous state for pedestrians. Pedestrian fatalities in car accidents have increased by 35% from 2008 to 2018. Since pedestrians have nothing to shield themselves from cars and the environment these accidents have a much higher rate of severe injuries and fatalities.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a car while walking contact an Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer with Calvin Smith Law. We have years of experience helping injury victims receive compensation for their losses. Call us today at (404) 383-7552 to learn how our car accident lawyers can help you.
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Who Qualifies as a Pedestrian?
To be considered a pedestrian, you don’t have to be out for a walk. When it comes to accident liability law, a pedestrian is an injury victim that wasn’t in a motor vehicle when the accident occurred. It, therefore, means that you qualify as a pedestrian if you sustained injuries while:
- Riding in a wheelchair
- Traveling on foot
- Cleaning the exterior of your windshield
- Changing a tire
What Are the Common Causes of Accidents Involving Pedestrians?
In 2018, there were 261 pedestrian fatalities, which is 8 more than the 253 that happened in 2017. In Georgia, pedestrian deaths have risen by 60 percent over the last 5 years.
Motorists should always look out for people on foot. Accidents typically happen because drivers fail to look out for pedestrians and thus never see them entering an intersection crosswalk, crossing the street, or simply walking along the road.
Here are some of the most common causes of accidents involving pedestrians:
It has been established that a strong correlation exists between vehicle impact speed and the severity of injuries sustained by pedestrians. The United States Department of Transportation estimates that up to 5 percent of pedestrians sustain fatalities after being struck by vehicles traveling at a speed of 20 mph or less. In comparison, 40 percent of pedestrians will suffer fatalities if struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour and 80 percent will suffer a fatality if struck by a vehicle traveling at a speed of 40 mph.
Failure to Yield
Georgia drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in several situations. Drivers are required to give the right-of-way to pedestrians at intersections without traffic signals or signs. Drivers are also required to yield if the pedestrian has a WALK signal or on a green light in case a pedestrian crossing signal isn’t available. Drivers pulling out of private roads, alleys, or driveways, are also required to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks.
Drivers should always be on the lookout for yellow signs that indicate areas where large numbers of pedestrians cross the street and reduce their speed. Motorists also need to be on the lookout for any partially blind or blind pedestrians either using a white cane or using a service dog. Pedestrians can be seriously injured or even suffer a fatality if a driver doesn’t yield.
Distractions are yet another factor in many accidents involving pedestrians. Drivers that are preoccupied with the navigation system, radio, cigarettes, food, cellphone, or talking with passengers pose a danger not only to pedestrians but also other motorists. Distracted drivers are more likely not to see a pedestrian thus end up causing an accident.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Commission estimates that 15 percent of pedestrians that are struck by vehicles and suffer fatalities are hit by drunk drivers while a third of pedestrians that are killed are usually legally intoxicated. Some pedestrians will under the influence of alcohol sit or lie down on the road or even walk in the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 75 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents happen in the dark. It is much more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians at night especially when the said persons are on foot and wearing dark clothing.
Is It Possible that the Crosswalk is the Problem?
In some situations, the driver might not be the only reason why a pedestrian accident occurs. Road design and crosswalk location may also contribute to pedestrian accidents.
The entities or parties responsible for designing and maintaining public crosswalks have a duty to take pedestrian safety into consideration. If they don’t, and the crosswalk ends up being unsafe, then those responsible can also be held accountable.
The potential defendants in crosswalk negligence include but aren’t limited to government agencies and engineering firms. If you have ever suffered injuries while crossing the street, allow one of our firm’s accident attorneys to help you determine who is responsible.
If you hire Calvin Smith Law to represent you, we will send a team of investigators to the accident scene to examine the location and ensure that any available evidence is properly preserved. We hire leading engineering experts and accident reconstruction professionals to build a strong winning case for you.
Who is Liable in Case a Pedestrian Suffers Injuries or a Fatality?
When it comes to pedestrian accidents, there are 3 key areas of liability:
Pedestrians have a responsibility to behave responsibly and follow the laws. They are required to use walk lights and crosswalks, avoid walking in areas where pedestrian traffic is forbidden such as along highways, and follow any other laws that have to do with pedestrian traffic. Motorists, on the other hand, are responsible for always yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians.
Yet, consider a situation whereby a driver follows all the rules and behaves in a prudent manner, but is still unable to avoid hitting a pedestrian that suddenly jumped in front of his/her vehicle. If that pedestrian is, also intoxicated, it is highly unlikely that the driver that him/her will ever face consequences in either civil or criminal court.
What if a driver blatantly ignores the rules of the road, speeds, or drives while distracted or intoxicated? Even if the pedestrian might also be at fault, it is still possible for the driver to be liable. Such drivers can be prosecuted for different kinds of negligence or even wrongful death in case of a fatality. If it is an extreme case of reckless driving, the driver can actually face criminal charges in addition to the civil suit. Drivers that knockdown pedestrians and flee the scene also face hit-and-run charges.
It is also possible that the factors which are the fault of neither the driver nor the pedestrian contributed to the accident. Weather conditions can lead to poor visibility, which makes it less likely that a driver is able to see a pedestrian in time to stop the vehicle. While some conditions are genuinely nobody’s fault, in some situations, defective roads, equipment, or other environmental hazards that may have contributed to an accident may be the fault of a property owner or the city. Such parties may be liable too.
In case of pedestrian injuries or fatalities, determining liability can be sometimes a complicated matter, especially when multiple parties have a share of the responsibility. If you have been injured as a pedestrian in Atlanta, it can be highly advisable to talk to the personal injury attorneys at Calvin Smith Law to explore the possibility of pursuing compensation. You might still have a case even if you were partially to blame for the accident.
Pedestrians Struck by Vehicles May Suffer Serious Injuries
Pedestrian accidents tend to be catastrophic since the human body is just unable to withstand the damage caused by a vehicle collision. The impact of being struck by thousands of pounds of metal may lead to severe injuries, which include:
- Spinal cord injuries, which include paralysis or other loss of function
- Facial or dental injuries that include the loss of vision and other eye injuries
- Head injuries, which include concussion and more severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or coma
- Deep cuts and bruises, which include damage to major organs
- Orthopedic injuries, which include broken bones or damage to other parts of the musculoskeletal system
What Steps Should I Take If I or a Loved One Has Been Injured as a Pedestrian?
Gathering as much information as possible is key in any kind of accident. Document the name or names of any witness or witnesses present. Hopefully, the vehicle that struck you has stopped. Get the driver’s insurance information, license number, and license plate number. You can even take a photo of the license plate if possible.
Make a record of the environment – Is there a walkway present? Is there a light? Call the police to make a formal report. The police report will be a critical record of events in any legal proceedings moving forward. Call an ambulance if you require medical care.
Call a personal injury lawyer to represent you before making a recorded call with any insurance provider, including yours. Insurance providers are often in a hurry to make fast, inexpensive settlements even before all the injuries you sustained are apparent. If you accept a settlement offered by insurance companies, you will never have the opportunity to recover anything else from your accident.
How Do Pedestrian Accidents Differ from Other Accidents?
The pedestrian is almost always injured after being struck by a motor vehicle or bicycle. Pedestrian accidents can be unexpected, swift, and deadly. While it might seem counterintuitive, the Department of Transportation actually found that 88 percent of recorded pedestrian fatalities happened in normal weather as opposed to snow, rain, or fog. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reported that close to 3 out of 4 pedestrian fatalities happen in urban areas. 26 percent of all pedestrian fatalities happened between 6:00 and 8:59 P.M.
Do I Have the Right to Compensation in A Pedestrian Accident?
If you have sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident due to the intentional or careless conduct of a driver, you may have a right to be compensated for your injuries along with other losses, such as the wages you are unable to earn while recovering from your injuries.
You basically have 2 options after a pedestrian accident:
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court
- File a claim with the driver’s insurance company
If the driver was insured when the accident happened, it is possible to file a claim with his/her insurance company. The claim negotiation and settlement process are at times time-consuming and difficult to navigate without a competent attorney helping you. The insurance company’s claims adjuster will attempt to settle the claim for the least amount possible and will require you to give up the right to sue the driver in court in exchange for paying the claim.
Pedestrian accidents usually cause very devastating injuries, which is why filing a personal injury lawsuit is almost always the only feasible way to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
What Am I Entitled to In Case of a Pedestrian Accident?
As is the case with any personal injury you are entitled to compensation for reasonable medical costs, lost income or wages, as well as pain and suffering. If a driver is drunk or criminally negligent, you may also be eligible for punitive damages aimed at punishing the wrongdoer. If you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, you could also be eligible for wrongful death compensation. You can contact our lawyers at Calvin Smith Law for additional information at (404) 383-7552.
Wrongful Death in Pedestrian Accident Cases
If a pedestrian doesn’t survive an accident, his/her family can bring a claim on behalf of their loved one to recover compensation for damages. However, they will have to prove the same elements as pedestrians that pursue negligence claims on their own behalf. A lawyer can help family members that file a suit hold the parties responsible accountable for their actions.
Who Is At-Fault in Pedestrian Accidents? Is It Always the Driver At-Fault?
Pedestrian accidents are often rather complicated. Contrary to popular belief, it is not always the driver who is at-fault. Such cases require a lot of investigation: Was the pedestrian in a walkway? Did the pedestrian have a “safe-to-walk” signal? Did the pedestrian dart through traffic? In a city such as Atlanta where there are just a few normal walkways or sidewalks, you need a personal injury lawyer to help you prove liability and fault.
How Is Fault Determined in Pedestrian Accident Cases?
When it comes to determining eligibility for compensation, it is always important to first consider civil liability for the pedestrian accident. One common misconception in Atlanta is that “Pedestrians always have the right-of-way.” While drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in most instances, pedestrians are in turn still required to obey the walk signs and traffic signals. Stepping out into traffic without first waiting for the walk signal may lead to liability for a collision – at least in part.
Plaintiffs that wish to succeed with personal injury lawsuits have to prove negligence on the defendant’s part and that the defendant’s negligence resulted directly in the plaintiff’s damages. It is up to the plaintiff to establish that the defendant owed a duty of care under the circumstances and the prove to the court that the defendant actually violated that duty.
The plaintiff will then be required to provide evidence showing the extent of the losses along with proof that they were a direct result of the defendant’s negligence and not any other cause. A pedestrian accident that involves a driver striking a pedestrian might seem to be a straightforward case, that is not always so. It is still possible for the pedestrian to share some of the liability for a pedestrian accident.
A common defense tactic in Atlanta pedestrian accidents is comparative negligence. The vehicle driver may allege that the pedestrian was texting and walking before he/she stepped into the crosswalk without looking out for oncoming traffic. In case the courts split liability between the plaintiff and defendant, this doesn’t bar the plaintiff from financial recovery. The modified comparative negligence laws in Georgia offer the opportunity for compensation as long as the plaintiff is below 50 percent at-fault for the accident.
If the plaintiff shares part of the fault for the accident, the jury will assign a percentage of fault to all the parties involved. The plaintiff will then lose his/her fault percentage of the case award. For instance, in a $100,000 claim where the plaintiff is found to be 20 percent at fault, he/she will lose 20 percent or $20,000 of the compensation awarded, receiving $80,000 instead.
If you wish to minimize your degree of fault in a pedestrian accident, you will probably require the assistance of a lawyer. A lawyer can investigate the accident, gather statements from eyewitnesses, and hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. Such measures can help prove that the vehicle’s driver was mostly or entirely at fault for the injuries you sustained.
Is There a Time Limit Within Which to File a Lawsuit After a Pedestrian Accident?
The vast majority of personal injury cases have a deadline of 2 years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. However, there come be shorter exceptions. It is vital that you contact a personal injury lawyer within the shortest time possible. We can help you get the right medical care and services you need to recover while we relentlessly pursue your case.
Why Should I Call an Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
If you are walking down an Atlanta street and are involved in an accident, you have very little to protect you. That’s why pedestrians often suffer very painful and debilitating injuries. Such injuries usually require extensive and expensive medical treatment. It can take several weeks or months before you get back on your feet. Even then, you might not have recovered completely. You could even be facing lifelong disability simply because you were hit by a vehicle.
If somebody else’s carelessness caused you to get hurt, they should be held responsible for the consequences of their negligence too. While you might be entitled to compensation, actually getting the money in your hands can prove to be quite the challenge. Insurance providers will attempt to fight you throughout the process. They will try to lower the value of your claim, or completely deny you the money you are entitled to. Whoever is responsible for the injuries you sustained will inevitably attempt to shift either part or all the blame to you.
Hiring our Atlanta personal injury attorneys is the only sure way to level the playing field. Hiring the team at Calvin Smith Law will give you the edge needed to get the compensation that you are entitled to. As your lawyers, we will be your greatest allies and fiercest advocates.
- Protect you when others attempt to place the blame on you for your injuries
- Seek compensation for all responsible parties
- Investigate your accident thoroughly to determined why it happened and the parties responsible
- Stand up to insurance providers and make them give your claim the seriousness it deserves
- Consult with the leading pedestrian injury experts in Atlanta today to determine how much your case is actually worth.
The aggressive approach we take has allowed us to secure meaningful compensation for pedestrians injured in Atlanta. We are here to provide help when you need it most. All you need to do is get in touch with our personal injury firm today.