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Pedestrian Fatalities Reach an All-time High

Pedestrian-Accident-Injury-LawyerThe number of pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities has sharply risen both in California and across the U.S. People can be seriously injured or killed when they are struck by motor vehicles while they are walking. There are several factors that have contributed to the increase in pedestrian deaths and injuries. Both pedestrians and motorists should take steps to minimize the risk of being involved in accidents. Pedestrians who are injured and the families of pedestrians who are killed in accidents may have legal rights to recover compensation for the losses that they have suffered.

Pedestrian accident statistics

The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a report that showed that pedestrian fatalities in 2018 were at a 28-year high. During 2018, 6,227 people were killed in pedestrian accidents. This was a 4 percent year-over-year increase from 2017 and was the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990.

Since 2008, the executive director of the GHSA reports that pedestrian fatalities have increased by 35 percent. Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California combined to account for 46 percent of the total number of pedestrian deaths in the nation. California had the highest number of deaths in 2018 with 432 fatalities.

SUVs were much likelier to be involved in fatal pedestrian accidents because of their larger sizes and weights. The number of SUV-involved pedestrian fatalities increased by 50 percent from 2013 to 2018. By comparison, the number of pedestrian fatalities in which passenger cars were involved increased by 30 percent during the same time period.

Factors leading to the increase in pedestrian accidents

Multiple factors are believed to contribute to the increase in pedestrian accidents. One factor is that SUVs are likelier to cause serious injuries and fatalities when they are involved in accidents with pedestrians. Since 2013, the proportion of SUVs that are registered has increased.

At the same time, more people are choosing to walk. Some people are choosing to walk as a way to get to work or for health reasons. In states that showed the largest increase in people moving to them, there was a 5 percent increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities. From 2007 to 2016, the number of people who chose to walk to work increased by 4 percent.

Walking after dark is dangerous, and nighttime pedestrian accidents increased more than those that occurred during the daylight hours. Nighttime fatalities rose by 45 percent from 2007 to 2017 while daytime fatalities rose by 11 percent.

Behavioral factors also have contributed to the increase in pedestrian accidents and fatalities. Drivers are likelier to be distracted by smartphones now than they were in 2007 because of the widespread use of the devices. Pedestrians may also fail to check before crossing the street when they are using their own phones. Other driver-related factors that have contributed to the increase are speeding and drowsy driving.

Both pedestrians and motorists who were involved in fatal pedestrian accidents were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. In 2017, around 50 percent of the fatal pedestrian crashes involved drunk pedestrians or drivers.

Pedestrian rights when you are injured in an accident

If you were struck by a vehicle while you were crossing the street in a marked crosswalk or through an unmarked intersection, you may have legal rights to recover compensation for your losses. As we have previously explained, pedestrians who are struck while crossing the street at marked or unmarked intersections generally have the right of way under California law. According to Cal. Veh. Code § 21950(a), motorists must yield to pedestrians who are crossing the street within crosswalks or at unmarked intersections.

You may be able to recover damages if the driver who struck you was at least partially at fault for your accident. For example, if the driver was speeding, talking on his or her cell phone, or had run a red light, you may be able to prove that the driver’s negligence caused your accident, injuries, and harm. By contrast, if you crossed in the middle of the street instead of at an intersection and stepped into traffic without the driver having enough time to avoid hitting you, you will be unlikely to recover.

Your rights when your loved one has been killed in a pedestrian accident

If your loved one has been killed by a negligent driver in a pedestrian accident, you may have the right to recover compensation. In order to file a wrongful death claim, however, you must have a specific relationship to the deceased person. As we have discussed, California limits the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to people who have the following types of relationships:

  • Spouse, domestic partner, children, or grandchildren if the children are deceased
  • People who would stand to inherit under the state’s intestacy laws if no one remains in the first category
  • People who were dependents of the deceased person
  • Putative spouse, children of a putative spouse, or stepchildren
  • Dependent minors who lived with the deceased person for more than 180 days before he or she died

Avoiding pedestrian accidents

There are steps that both pedestrians and motorists can take to avoid pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians should never try to cross the road at a mid-block area and should instead only cross at an intersection. It is a good idea for pedestrians to avoid using their smartphones while they are walking or to use headphones. Pedestrians should also avoid drinking alcohol before they go for a walk. If they will be walking at night, they should wear bright, reflective clothing so that they are easier to see.

Motorists should stay alert while they drive and watch for pedestrians along the sidewalks who appear as if they might try to cross the road. They should adhere to the posted speed limits and should avoid using their smartphones when they drive. Motorists should also avoid driving when they are drowsy and should never get behind the wheel when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Get help from an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in Los Angeles

If you have suffered a serious injury in a pedestrian accident or have lost your loved one, it is important for you to talk to an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in Los Angeles. An attorney may review what happened and offer you an honest assessment of whether you have valid grounds to file a lawsuit. If the lawyer agrees to take your case, he or she may work to recover the maximum amount of compensation to which you should be entitled. Call the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat today to schedule a consultation and to learn more about your potential claim.

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