Pedestrian deaths are a commonality in California with some reports indicating an upward trend in the past twenty-five years. In March 2018, the Governors Highway Safety Association released its annual report dubbed “Spotlight on Highway Safety" and the statistics were harrowing. According to this research, a whopping 6000 pedestrians were killed in car accidents across the country the previous year. In California alone, 352 pedestrians died in the period between January and June 2017, thus making it the 15th highest death rate in the nation.
It is disheartening to know that five states (California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Arizona) account for 43% of pedestrian deaths across the country. More so, pedestrian deaths account for 16% of all fatalities involving motor vehicles in the country, which is a sharp increase from 11% a few years back. Officials from the Governors Highway Safety Association attributed this spike to marijuana users and smartphone dependency, which is a central distractor for drivers and pedestrians alike.
The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has excellent experience litigating personal injury cases involving pedestrian accidents. We have prepared this guide to educate you on how these accidents happen, and how we can help you pursue a personal injury claim.
What is the Leading Cause of Pedestrian Accidents in California?
Death involving pedestrians is a nationwide problem not in this state alone. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) deduces that over 4,000 pedestrians die and over 70,000 are injured every year. Driver negligence tops the list of factors that cause traffic accidents. Failure to heed to safety precautions exposes many people to danger even when they use marked crosswalks. On the pedestrian side, distractions are the main causative factor for accidents on city streets.
Numerous reports by the NHTSA point to seven significant causes of these fatalities as discussed below:
The leading cause of pedestrian accidents is distracted driving, and this problem has been brewing for many decades before handheld technology devices became mainstream. A driver can be distracted by food and drink, changing radio controls, using mobile phones, books and newspapers, surrounding traffic, etc. Recent reports by the NHTSA show that in 2015, 10% of deadly collisions and 15% of dangerous accidents were due to distracted driving.
The state of California enacted four laws about distracted driving, as follows:
- Making it unlawful for drivers to use handheld devices when operating a vehicle
- Making it illegal for drivers under 18 to use handheld devices and hands-free devices when operating an automobile
- Nobody is allowed to text while behind the wheel
Contravening any of these distracted driving laws is considered a primary offense, and therefore, you can be pulled over when spotted by a peace officer. You will be required to pay fines, and your license accumulates points that may result in a suspension or revocation of your license altogether.
Failing to Yield to Pedestrians
Drivers who refuse to yield the right of way in crosswalks (marked or unmarked) trigger accidents that could kill pedestrians or at the very least cause bodily harm. Research surmises that 20% of pedestrian accidents in California are caused by failure to yield with or without crossing lights. Usually, these impacts happen when drivers are making left turns as their sights are focused elsewhere.
Not Signaling when Turning
Pedestrians are required by state laws always to use crosswalks, obey signs and lights, and walk on the appropriate sides of the streets. These requirements are codified in the state traffic laws to help pedestrians protect themselves. Despite all these precautionary measures, pedestrians cannot always know when a vehicle is turning at an intersection.
A study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in 2012 found that 50% of drivers don't indicate when turning and this bad practice exposes pedestrians and other motorists to accidents. This self-reporting study also found that almost half of the drivers don't signal when changing lanes, and some leave the indicator on after they change lanes.
Some of the reasons provided for this oversight were lack of time, and sheer laziness to obey traffic laws, the SAE's report noted. Improper turning and switching lanes may appear like minuscule infractions, but drivers have an ongoing duty to adhere to all traffic rules.
Driving at High Speeds
Speeding is the leading cause of car collisions in California and across the country. The University of California Berkeley found that every increase of speed by one percent raised the chances of an accident by 2%. For every one percent increase in rate, the chances of grave injury and fatalities rose by 3% and 4% respectively.
Drivers are urged to oblige to the posted limits at whatever time of day and night, even when traffic subsides. Sprinting to your destination could mean running over an unsuspecting pedestrian on a residential or city street.
Not Following Traffic Signals
Research surmises that many drivers stop at intersections but fail to yield the right of way for pedestrians. This mistake is responsible for 70% of crashes that occur at intersections that are controlled by automatic stop signs. Similar accidents can happen at intersections run by stoplights.
If a driver is not keen enough to obey signals and watch out for pedestrians crossing, they may strike you, and the impact could lead to life-altering injuries. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm handles tons of cases where pedestrians are hit by drivers who failed to yield to the right of way. Contact us as soon as you can so we can examine the details of how the accident happened.
Driving Under the Influence
Data from the IIHS-Highway Loss Data Institute claim that intoxicated drivers cause 13% of pedestrian accidents. When a driver consumes a certain level of alcohol before driving, their mental ability to perceive road hazards decline, and they are less capable of reacting to accidents. Impaired coordination, lack of judgment, dull alertness, slow muscle response, and declined capacity to detect moving objects are common side effects of drinking alcohol before driving.
Legally impaired drivers are more likely to forget traffic rules such as how to negotiate turns or roundabouts. The California Vehicle Code 23152 sets the legal blood alcohol content at 0.08%, but lawmakers are contemplating lowering the BAC to 0.05%, in a bid to improve road safety.
Indifference to Weather or Traffic Conditions
California is beloved for its fair weather, but the state experiences terrible weather from time to time. Traffic laws require motorists to drive at "prudent speeds" when the weather conditions are unfavorable. For instance, when there is fog inhibiting visibility or even when traffic builds up at rush hour. Traveling at or higher than the posted speed limit is likely to cause a crash, and you may share liability even when the pedestrian is at fault.
There are other reasons why pedestrian accidents occur as below:
- Slowdowns due to dense human traffic, e.g., at rush hour
- Refusing to obey handheld stop signs, e.g., when kids are crossing
- Time of day; most pedestrian accidents occur between 3 p.m and 8:59 p.m.
- Losing control of your vehicle due to maintenance problems
What is Driver's Duty of Care?
In all these instances discussed above, the driver has failed to obey one or more traffic rules. The state requires motorists to uphold their duty of care and observe “reasonable care" under exceptional circumstances. The latter refers to bad weather, unexpected events, pedestrian density, among others. Failure to exercise the duty of care is usually construed as negligence which makes the driver liable for hurting or killing pedestrians.
As your injury attorneys, it is our job to establish driver negligence and hold them accountable in a court of law. We shall pursue the case until you get the much-deserved compensation for your injuries, so you get proper treatment without sinking into debt.
Initiatives for Promoting Pedestrian Safety
As seen above, pedestrian deaths are on the rise in the Golden State and curbing this carnage requires enacting safety measures on highways and city streets. To this end, the California Department of Transportation is hard at work, installing more roundabouts to promote pedestrian safety. Intersections with more than four lanes are ideal candidates, but this measure must be done strategically to avoid posing more problems for pedestrians.
For example, people with visual challenges may find it challenging to navigate roundabouts as traffic is typically controlled by yield-control entry. People must determine where and when to cross the road, and in which direction to pass. This decision-making process is more difficult when visual impairment is thrown into the mix, and even the slightest oversight can trigger an accident.
The Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) requires that single and multiple lane roundabouts have easily accessible pedestrian signals. People with visual disabilities can benefit from pedestrian hybrid beacons and raised crossings to guide them as they travel across busy roads. Nonetheless, installing roundabouts on multiple lanes is not always a great idea, especially in places that experience high people traffic and bicycles. There is a high chance of crashes as pedestrians and cyclists jostle to use the same lanes.
In such a case, roundabout design principles must be implemented correctly to avoid introducing measures that exacerbate the issue rather than facilitate pedestrian safety. The Office of Traffic Safety is channeling funds into Pedestrian Assessments in towns and cities where collision rates are high. What's more, funding pedestrian education has increased by an impressive 40% and the University of San Diego has launched a curriculum targeted at senior pedestrians.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
Despite the above initiatives to prevent accidents involving pedestrians, horrific crashes claiming innocent lives and injuring many others are a mainstay in California. Different kinds of accidents can occur, and their effects on victims vary depending on factors like location.
Accidents at intersections are some of the most frequent kinds of collisions, and they occur when pedestrians attempt to cross an intersection, but they miscalculate the travel time. If their speed is too slow, an oncoming vehicle will strike them and throw them off a distance. Intersection accidents are even more dangerous as the victim may become disoriented and run over by cars in another lane.
If the driver didn't have enough reaction time, they could have hit the pedestrian at high speeds, thus injuring them severely. Anyone can fall victim to these accidents even when they adhere to road safety rules.
This accident happens when a vehicle stops to let a passenger out, and the driver behind fails to notice this person. A passing crash occurs when the second driver inadvertently or knowingly strikes passengers who have alighted from another vehicle. People who frequently use public transportation are prone to passing accidents as other drivers rush to beat traffic.
Street vendors are pervasive in towns and cities, and they attract dense human traffic, especially during the day. Residents and tourists alike flock these roadside kiosks to buy lunch, apparel, handcrafted items, and souvenirs from their trip to California.
Shoppers – including young children and senior citizens – could get hurt if a vehicle passes by too fast with total disregard of the melee that is usually witnessed in such places.
Turn and Merge Accidents
In other instances, a motorist may attempt to merge into traffic or make a turn but miscalculate their steps. If they only focus on incoming vehicles, they are likely to miss the pedestrians nearby and strike them when attempting to merge.
If a motorist is backing up without using the rearview mirror, they may hit someone who is out of their line of sight. This kind of accident is known as a back-up accident and typically involves hitting a pedestrian at moderate to slow speeds. You could still get injured, especially if a large truck hits your limbs, head, torso, and pushes you to the curb.
Pedestrians may enter the road without warning and get struck by an oncoming vehicle. The driver does not have sufficient time to react, so they cause a dart-out accident. This accident can also happen when a driver's view is obstructed by another car such that they don't see the pedestrian approach.
What Types of Injuries Can I Suffer from Pedestrian Accidents?
In any of the above scenarios, the pedestrian is likely to incur various injuries. Their gravity depends on the speed, angle of impact, size of the vehicle, the center of gravity, and pedestrian's physical attributes. Pedestrian accidents could trigger the following injuries:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
Head injuries typically ensue when a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle at high speeds. You could suffer a mild concussion or suffer severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that could change your life forever. Research shows that TBIs can cause personality changes, physical aggression, memory damage, and declining ability to control impulses.
If the head trauma causes TBI, you may be left battling a host of emotional issues that will inhibit your current and future relationships. Gaining trust is not forthcoming, and you could end up conflicting with co-workers and people in your personal life. Physical aggression is yet another negative side effect that could ruin your life and make it difficult for others to stay in your corner. Traumatic brain injuries can also cause death.
Blunt force trauma on your body may cause internal injuries that may not be felt or noticed immediately after the crash. Pedestrians could suffer from severe damage to vital organs like the liver, kidneys which may launch more complex health problems. Treating vital organs calls for specialist care that may not be forthcoming, especially if the victim is not insured.
The spinal cord may also be affected, and this could lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. If you suffered internal injuries of any kind, you might be receiving treatment for a while, and the side effects could diminish your quality of life. What's more, these complicated issues may keep you from working, thus leaving your family without necessities. Allow us to help you get the care you deserve as you battle serious health problems.
Face and Neck Injuries
Being struck by a vehicle even at slow speeds will leave a mark on your face or neck. You could be thrown off balance and land hard on the pavement, thus scraping the side of your face, or your neck could twist due to high impact. A broken nose is also characteristic after crashing into a vehicle, and this could lead to a deviated septum.
Torso and Rib Injuries
The torso area will also be affected during the impact when your chest is poked by an object subsequently hurting the rib cage. Related problems like a collapsed lung or flail chest may ensue, and they are not always easy to detect until the problem has manifested.
These injuries are life-threatening and require intensive care by qualified physicians. Do not let an intoxicated driver get away with hurting you; they should pay for your medical bills and other expenses. Reporting them also holds them accountable, so they are not roaming free to hurt other people.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that ensues after going through a horrific event such as a car accident. Symptoms include nightmares, anxiety, trouble sleeping, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, emotional numbness, etc. Feelings of hopelessness may kick in, and if you don't seek therapy, PTSD could affect your productivity and personal life as well.
Broken, chipped, or dislodged teeth are a commonality in pedestrian accidents, and they affect your smile significantly. They may result from a direct impact with the vehicle or as a result of being thrown off after impact. You will need to repair broken teeth using restorative material, install a crown for avulsed or twisted teeth, or get dental implants.
Most insurance plans don't cover dental procedures so you may have to pay out of pocket. Expenses may skyrocket if more than one tooth is damaged, and you may not manage this bill. That is why you need an astute personal injury attorney to help you get fair compensation from the liable party.
What Can I Do After a Pedestrian Accident?
There are many victims of pedestrian accidents in California, and these usually trigger police cases. If you are a victim, please contact a qualified personal injury attorney to intervene. You are entitled to personal injury compensation, insurance claims, of course taking the negligent driver to court.
Call for medical assistance immediately and if you are in decent shape, take down the driver's insurance details, and photograph the scene. Take the license plate number and any other relevant information that your lawyer may need, such as witness statements and their contact details.
We shall examine your case and launch into determining which entity is at fault and to what extent. Your attorney will accomplish this aim by carefully scrutinizing evidence obtained from these sources:
- The official accident report
- Witness accounts of the accident
- Surveillance footage
- Black box recording
- Images on your mobile phone
- Driver’s history
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
Hiring a personal injury attorney makes all the difference between footing the bill on your own – and possibly draining your savings – to getting the compensation you deserve. As your legal counsel, we shall seek compensation for lost income (now and in the foreseeable future), permanent disability, emotional anguish, loss of consortium, prescriptions and medical equipment, etc.
If the pedestrian succumbs to their injuries on the spot or while undergoing treatment, you can pursue a wrongful death suit against the driver. They will be required to pay restitution, so the dependents are taken care of financially and cover funeral expenses.
Your attorney will help you estimate the total loses from this pedestrian accident and keep you from making miscalculations that could undermine your claim. You may lose your earning capability, have to abandon your trade, not to mention related losses associated with the declined economic contribution. The last thing you want is taking a low-ball settlement that barely covers subsequent medical expenses or pays the bills when you are out of work. It is our job to put you in a position where you get an agreeable offer from the liable party.
Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Pedestrian accidents are a commonality, and they can be triggered by negligent drivers, your negligence, or a combination of other factors. Regardless of how things appear, do not be persuaded to admit fault until you retain a qualified personal injury attorney, as this admission can hurt your case.
The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm specializes in these cases across California helping many clients in a similar predicament like you. If you wish to win an impressive settlement package, contact us at 619-625-8707, so we can apply our tried and true strategies to your case.