A pedestrian who is hit by a car is especially vulnerable to serious injuries. Unlike motorists, pedestrians do not have the protection of vehicles around them. Cars are extremely heavy, and the force that occurs when an unprotected person is hit by a vehicle is enormous. According to some estimates, approximately 80,000 of walking pedestrians get hit by vehicles each year.
In 2018, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported 6,227 pedestrian fatalities and projected a five percent increase in the coming years. Their 2019 estimate was the highest in more than 30 years, and the final numbers have not been released yet. These accidents can lead to traumatic injuries, plus long-lasting and detrimental physical, emotional, and financial problems.
What Risk Factors Lead to Pedestrian Accidents?
Unsafe driving behaviors, like distracted driving, fatigued driving, speeding, and running red lights, increases the risk of accidents. Drunk driving is another factor that influences pedestrian accidents. In 2018, pedestrian and driver alcohol impairment was reported in close to 50 percent of traffic accidents that caused pedestrian fatalities.
Large vehicles, like SUVs, increase the risk of more serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The number of fatalities during the past 10 years that involved SUVs increased by 81 percent. The majority of these accidents involved passenger cars, and these increased at a rate of 53 percent during that same time period.
The GHSA also claimed that most pedestrian fatalities occurred at night, away from intersections, and on local roads. Nighttime pedestrian fatalities rose by 67 percent during the past decade, and daytime pedestrian fatalities increased by 16 percent. With Halloween coming, children and their caregivers need to be especially careful. Other reasons why vehicles hit pedestrians include not checking before backing up out of parking spaces, not signaling, disregarding traffic signs or signals, and failing to yield.
Pedestrians under 15 years old and over 65 years old are also more likely to be struck by cars. This is because younger kids are more impulsive and may be prone to jumping in front of cars and running into streets. Those over 65 years old may not see or hear well and have slower reflexes.
What Happens After Pedestrian Accidents?
Depending on the severity of the accident, the pedestrian can end up with soft tissue injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, bruises, fractures, and other catastrophic injuries. Emergency medical care may be needed, so 911 should be called right away. If possible, it is best to get any witnesses’ contact information, and take pictures of the vehicles involved and the accident scene. The insurance companies should also be contacted as soon as possible.
Pedestrians who are hit by cars should seek medical attention, even if the pain is not severe. Waiting could lead to problems if there is an injury that is not treated in a timely manner. It could also be problematic if the insurance provider feels that the injury is not significant. They may assume that the injury was not severe enough to seek prompt medical attention. It is also important to keep accurate records of the diagnosis, treatment, and medical expenses.
How are Pedestrians Compensated for Injuries?
The answer to this questions depends on which state the pedestrian lives in. If it is a no-fault state, the drivers’ insurance provider may be responsible for paying the medical bills. If it is a fault state, there are other rules that apply to financial responsibilities for losses stemming from car accidents, including medical expenses.
If the accident occurred in a no-fault insurance state, the pedestrian has to use their own car insurance provider to pay their medical expenses and related out-of-pocket losses, no matter who was at fault. However, if the claim goes over certain limits, the victim may be able to make a claim against the at-fault driver.
Delaware is a fault state, so the person at fault for causing a pedestrian accident is held responsible for compensating the person who was injured. This means that the liable driver’s insurance company would cover the losses up to the limits of the policy.
After a pedestrian accident in Delaware, the victim can file a claim with their own insurance company, who will in turn usually file a subrogation claim at the driver’s insurance company. The victim can also file a third-party claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company or choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver.
What Else Should I Know About Pedestrian Accidents?
In most states, pedestrians are supposed to have the right-of-way when walking. This includes walking on the roads while facing traffic and on crosswalks. Therefore, drivers are generally responsible for fault when accidents occur. Pedestrians can also be found at fault in certain situations.
In some states, injured pedestrians who have automotive insurance may be able to collect from their insurance companies up to a certain limit. In others, the driver’s insurance provider will offer compensation. However, not all drivers are properly insured; the pedestrian’s no-fault coverage or uninsured motorist coverage may be used. Injured pedestrians who do not have health insurance may end up paying some or all out-of-pocket expenses.
On the other hand, some pedestrians who are injured in accidents are able to bring claims against the town where the crash happened. For example, if a traffic sign was missing or a traffic signal was broken, this could contribute to an accident.
How Can I Prevent Pedestrian and Car Accidents?
Pedestrians can keep certain safety tips in mind when walking outside. If it is dusk or dark out, it is a good idea to wear bright or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight. Choosing the side of the road that is facing traffic, staying on sidewalks, and only crossing at designated crosswalks are also recommended. Wearing earbuds is hazardous since it makes it hard to hear approaching vehicles. If an accident does occur, a victim should speak to a lawyer about their options.
Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow are Experienced with Pedestrian and Car Accidents
If you were injured in an accident, our trusted Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. Complete our online form or call us at (302) 427-9500 for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Hillsborough, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.