A pedestrian accident occurs when a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian walker, runner, or biker during operation of the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), around 5,000 people are killed in pedestrian accidents every year. Around 76,000 pedestrians will be injured each year. Many accidents occur when a pedestrian is jay-walking — meaning that it’s not always the vehicle operator’s fault.
That said, anyone who was abiding by pedestrian laws but was struck by a motor vehicle should seek advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In order to build a case against the vehicle operator, negligence must first be determined.
The burden of proof relies on material evidence and witness/expert testimony to establish a defendant’s negligence in contributing to the pedestrian accident. According to FindLaw, negligence occurs when a defendant “owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances.” This might occur when a business owner fails to properly train an employee, who then gets into an accident during which a pedestrian is injured.
A third party might also be liable for the accident: the city, state, or municipality responsible for maintaining sidewalks or roads where the accident occurred.
A number of pedestrian accidents occur due to reckless driving. Factors include: driving over the speed limit, texting or speaking on the phone while driving, failing to obey traffic signals, failing to signal, driving while intoxicated by drugs, alcohol, or exhaustion, or simply failing to account for weather conditions.
Other pedestrian accidents occur when a walker fails to heed traffic signals (such as the “walk” signal) and disrupting the flow of traffic, failing to use a crosswalk, or assuming a vehicle will stop when entering a traffic lane. In these instances, the pedestrian is usually at fault — and a driver might be able to mount a case against them!
Premise liability law and pedestrian accident law are deeply connected, because pedestrian accidents might occur when a land maintainer fails to, well, maintain the land. If the conditions leading to the accident were created or exacerbated because of a land owner’s failure to make necessary repairs in the timely fashion, then either the pedestrian or the vehicle operator — or both — might be able to mount a lawsuit against the land owner.
If you were involved in a pedestrian accident — either as a pedestrian or the operator of a vehicle — then you should avoid panic. Call the police before you do anything else. Try to help the injured party if possible. Ask anyone who witnessed the accident to refrain from leaving the scene of the accident. Don’t actually say anything to anyone else. This means refrain from providing information to other drivers, the police, or insurers until you contact a lawyer.
Seek medical attention if you need it. Keep documentation of medical bills and witness testimony on hand when you meet with your lawyer — and remember to keep your head. You’re in good hands!