Personal Injury Claims Regarding Car Accidents With Pedestrians
According to the latest report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were approximately 6,721 pedestrians involved in fatal motor vehicle-related accidents in 2020. This was a 4.8% increase in the fatality rate from 2019. Data from the GHSA suggests that pedestrian deaths have risen nearly 46% over the past decade, a disproportionate increase compared to the number of all other traffic deaths, which increased by only 5%.
These accidents typically occur on local roads, in the dark, and away from intersections. The GHSA also cites alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrians in nearly half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatality. The victims of these tragic accidents deserve justice. Here, the personal injury attorneys explain who is at fault in a pedestrian-vehicle accident and how you can seek justice.
Who Is At Fault in a Pedestrian-Vehicle Accident?
In a motor vehicle accident that involves a pedestrian, a driver can be held responsible if they are found negligent. Negligence is defined as the failure to do– or not do– something that a reasonable person in a similar situation would do to protect others from foreseeable risks.
To establish negligence in a pestestrian accident, the victim or their family must prove four things in relation to the defendant’s actions:
Duty of Care
The first thing that must be proven is that the defendant owed a duty of care to a plaintiff. A duty of care exists when the law recognizes a relationship between the defendant and the plaintiff that requires the defendant to act in a certain manner and with a certain standard of care toward the plaintiff.
The duty of care is largely dependent on unique elements of each case. In a scenario of a motor vehicle accident including a pedestrain, a judge will examine whether or not a duty of care existed between the driver and the pedestrian. If the pedestrian was merely walking down a residential sidewalk, the court may be more likely to find that the driver owed a duty to the pedestrian. However, if the pedestrian was walking in a heavy traffic area with signage forbidding pedestrian traffic, the court may be less likely to find that a duty of care existed.
Breach of Duty
Once duty of care is established, the plaintiff and their legal counsel must prove that the defendant breached their duty of the other person. A breach occurs when a defendant fails to exercise reasonable care in fulfilling the duty.
A driver has a duty of care towards all other drivers and pedestrians. This includes obeying all traffic laws and driving safely. A breach of duty may exist if a driver violates traffic laws or drives recklessly.
Cause in Fact
If a defendant did breach their duty of care, a plaintiff and their attorney must prove that the injuries sustained were a direct result of the breach. This is often referred to as “but-for” causation, meaning that, but for the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff’s injury would not have occurred. In the example of pedestrian injuries or death sustained in a motor vehicle accident, an attorney would have to prove that the pedestrian would not have been injured if the driver had not broke traffic laws or driven recklessly.
In addition, the plaintiff must prove legally recognized harm as a result of the defendant’s actions. This typical occurs in the form of physical injury to a person or property.
Will the Driver be Held Responsible for My Injuries?
A driver must be proven to be negligent in order for them to be held legally responsible for your injuries. Both drivers and pedestrians must follow traffic laws and exercise reasonable care. In many cases, it may seem obvious who was negligent, but courts look at a variety of factors in applying facts to negligence elements. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can ensure that the facts of your case are expressed in the most compelling way possible.
Generally, drivers must exercise reasonable care behind the wheel. A few of the most common factors contributing to driver negligence include:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield to the right away of pedestrians at crosswalks
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
However, pedestrians also must exercise reasonable care for their own safety. The care required must be proportionate to the danger to be avoided and reasonably anticipated consequences. Contributory negligence may be assessed against a pedestrian if it is found that their failure to exercise such care contributed to the cause of their injuries.
A few of the most common factors contributing to pedestrian negligence include:
- Ignoring the “walk” signal at an intersection
- Entering traffic and disrupting the flow
- Failing to use a marked crosswalk
- Darting in front of a vehicle
These actions, or lack thereof, will be taken into consideration when determining whether or not a driver will be found negligent.
Contact an Experienced Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney
As pedestrians, we trust we will be safe when walking on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk. However, pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle accidents far too often. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries after being involved in a pedestrian motor vehicle accident, it is imperative that you seek guidance from an experienced attorney. Contact our team of legal experts today.