What are the main causes of pedestrian accidents? The distressing answer is that various forms of driver error are usually to blame. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that as of 2019, motor vehicles killed over 6,000 pedestrians and injured over 76,000 more people in the United States alone. If you suffered an injury in a pedestrian accident caused by the driver, you deserve compensation. Stracci Law Group can help.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
As a pedestrian, you can exercise certain precautions to avoid an accident. If the pedestrian caused an accident, Indiana’s comparative fault system will kick in to reduce, or even eliminate, personal injury compensation. What this means is that if the other party is at least 50% responsible for your injury, you can prevail in a trial for negligence against that party. Certain causes of pedestrian accidents, however, are within the driver’s control. Following is a list of some of the main causes of pedestrian accidents.
“Zebra” crossings probably save hundreds of pedestrian lives every year. What makes zebra crossings effective is their conspicuousness. Motorists are more likely to be alert enough to exercise caution when they see lights or street markings that indicate the possible presence of pedestrians.
Some pedestrian crossings, however, are unmarked. Others are marked in a relatively inconspicuous manner (faded paint, for example). Even if you can cross a road without jaywalking, you might still end up in the hospital, or the morgue, due to driver inattention.
When a driver turns left, they must navigate the crossing of an opposing lane of traffic, something they don’t need to do if they are turning right. For this reason, their eyes may focus on other cars rather than on pedestrians. This can be a recipe for disaster.
Always take note of whether a driver is likely to be turning left into your path. If so, your best bet is to simply assume they can’t see you at all and navigate your crossing accordingly.
Distracted driving accidents have multiplied in recent decades as the popularity of hand-held devices has soared. Texting while driving is illegal in Indiana, making it easier to establish negligence against a texting driver. This law seems appropriate, considering that a texting driver might travel the length of a football field without even glancing at the road.
Cell phones are not the only culprits when it comes to distracted driving. Loud music, conversation with a passenger, and even shaving in the rear-view mirror might constitute distracted driving.
Remember that pedestrians can also cause accidents, by activities such as jaywalking and distractions such as cell phone use.
When a pedestrian accident is caused by inclement weather, it can be difficult (but not impossible) to assign liability. Following are some ways in which bad weather can cause a pedestrian accident:
- Wet or icy roads can elongate stopping distances and cause hydroplaning;
- Fog, sleet, or heavy rain/snow can reduce visibility to nearly zero; or
- A wet roadside may cause a pedestrian to fall into the road in the path of an oncoming car.
Unfortunately, bad weather can cause people to walk rather than drive. This is especially true if a vehicle is disabled on a highway in bad weather.
The fragility of the human body combined with the camouflage effect of dark clothing at night results in a deadly brew. After all, a motorist cannot avoid hitting you if they cannot see you. If you are wearing dark clothes at night, assume that you are invisible to motorists and take precautions consistent with this assumption. Pedestrian accidents occur after dark more often than they do in the daytime.
If you don’t have light clothing, at least carry a flashlight and avoid walking on poorly lit roads.
Jaywalking is crossing a road outside of a crosswalk, whether marked or unmarked. Outside of pedestrian crosswalks, it is the pedestrian who must yield to the driver. Jaywalking is by far the most common way that pedestrians cause accidents that injure or kill them. If you are injured in a pedestrian accident while jaywalking, you might be entitled only to reduced compensation, or to no compensation at all.
Drugs, Alcohol or Medication
Drugs, alcohol and even prescription medication intoxication can cause many different types of accidents, including pedestrian accidents. Drugs can affect your judgment, your hand-eye coordination, and your vision. Even Tylenol can cause blurred and double vision. Intoxication may lead a driver into an accident, but it might also cause a pedestrian to jaywalk or even lose consciousness in the middle of the road.
Multi-lane and arterial roads cause pedestrian accidents by making competing demands on the attention of motorists. In the midst of fighting for a lane change opening, dealing with a tailgating motorist, and navigating amongst other vehicles, a motorist might forget to look out for pedestrians. This state of affairs could be particularly dangerous if you need to cross more than two lanes to get across the street.
Reduced visibility can be caused by weather conditions, road conditions (a blind curve, for example), defective headlights, misadjusted mirrors, or improper headlight use. Using bright headlights in fog, for example, only reduces visibility further.
Never assume that drivers can see more than you can. Additionally, don’t forget the content of the message that you commonly see on the backs of trucks: “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.”
What Is a Driver’s Duty of Care?
Many of the foregoing causes of pedestrian accidents related to a driver's duty of care towards pedestrians. Since pedestrians are vulnerable, Indiana traffic laws tend to favor them. Drivers must generally yield to pedestrians, for example.
Most of the rules that define a driver’s duty of care towards pedestrians are a matter of common sense. If the driver fails to meet the standard of care, however, their behavior constitutes negligence (or worse). Negligence can serve as the basis for a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
Ways to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents
Colorado courts have generated a substantial volume of case law concerning a driver's duty of care to pedestrians. Additionally, a bit of serious thought can generate many ideas on how to reduce pedestrian accidents, Following are a few tips:
- Drive defensively. Assume other drivers are all complete fools so that when you inevitably run into a fool, you won’t be taken by surprise.
- Don’t try to cross the road with earphones blaring loud music into your ears. A distracted pedestrian plus a distracted driver can mix into a deadly cocktail.
- Walk on the sidewalk, not the street. Avoid walking down roadsides with no sidewalks.
- Don’t jog on the side of the road. Go to a park instead.
- Wear bright colors or fluorescent clothing while walking at night.
- Avoid speeding, to give yourself ample reaction time in case someone darts into the road.
- Don’t drive at night with defective headlights.
No matter how careful you are, an accident could always happen. These tips simply reduce the odds, that’s all. Even if an accident must happen, you can still avoid liability through the exercise of sufficient care.
Where Do Pedestrians Get Hit the Most?
Pedestrian accidents are most likely to occur in the following places:
- On the open road (as opposed to intersections);
- In dark areas;
- In urban areas; and
- On college campuses.
A pedestrian accident can happen anywhere, any time there is at least one vehicle and one pedestrian on the road.
How Much Is The Compensation Resulting from Pedestrian Accidents?
How much is pedestrian accident compensation? That all depends on the facts of your particular case. Many factors make up a settlement demand, including:
- Medical bills;
- Lost earnings;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Out-of-pocket expenses.
These components of damages are different if relatives of a deceased pedestrian file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
The ultimate limitation, however, may come from the maximum amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. In Indiana, the minimum bodily injury liability insurance coverage tops out at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Many drivers carry only the minimum. Fortunately, commercial truckers and on-duty drivers for companies such as Uber carry high-limit bodily injury liability insurance policies.
We settle most of our clients’ cases at the bargaining table because opposing parties fear facing us in court. Considering our 80 years of combined experience and our successful trial record, we don’t blame them a bit. Call Stracci Law Group at 219-525-1000, or simply contact us online. We serve clients in Crown Point [46307, 46308], Merrillville [46410, 46411], Hammond [46320, 46323], and elsewhere in Northwest Indiana.