If you or a loved one recently got hurt in a car vs. pedestrian crash, The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs can help you. When a car hits a pedestrian, it’s not a fair contest. Thousands of pounds of metal versus one human body can leave the pedestrian with life-threatening injuries. Severe injuries are especially likely if the car is traveling at high speeds. Pedestrians can be harder to see than other cars, but it still falls on drivers to watch out for them on the road and avoid hitting them. Recovery can be extremely difficult for those who get hit by negligent drivers while walking.
At The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs, our Lakewood attorneys believe in accountability for drivers who strike pedestrians. If you or someone you love got hurt in a pedestrian accident, our Lakewood injury lawyers are ready to fight for you. We can help you file a personal injury or wrongful death claim and increase your chances of winning compensation in or out of court. Contact us at (253) 588-6696 to schedule a free consultation.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
In many pedestrian accidents, an inattentive driver is to blame. Such mistakes come at a cost to the driver but an even higher cost to the pedestrian, who may even lose their life. Here are some of the common ways that drivers cause pedestrian accidents:
- Turning without watching for pedestrians at intersections
- Backing into pedestrians in parking lots
- Failing to yield at pedestrian crosswalks
- Failing to watch for people getting into or out of cars while driving near the curb
- Running up onto the curb while pedestrians are walking beside the road
- Assuming that pedestrians will not cross at intersections without a designated crosswalk
- Texting while driving
Drivers are not always to blame and sometimes hit pedestrians who unexpectedly start jaywalking. But in many cases, the driver will be liable if they hit a pedestrian. Drivers and pedestrians must understand who has the right of way in every situation.
Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
There is no question that a collision between cars can cause injuries to the occupants of the vehicles involved. However, that damage does not compare to the harm caused when a car hits a person. The impact of that type of collision can cause catastrophic injuries. The most common injuries in pedestrian accidents include:
- Head or brain injuries: Pedestrian accidents can cause concussions and traumatic brain injuries, which can be life-threatening. The injuries can be permanent and may require long-term therapy and care.
- Facial injuries: When a pedestrian gets hit by a car, injuries to the face are likely to occur. These can leave permanent and disfiguring scars.
- Lacerations and cuts: This includes lacerations, contusions, dislocations, strains, and sprains. The wounds can cause severe pain, long-term physical impairment, and permanent scars.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal damage can often cause extreme pain and may need surgical intervention or long-term physical therapy. In some cases, the damage can cause partial to full paralysis, which can be permanent.
- Internal injuries: Pedestrian accidents can cause life-threatening internal injuries from the resulting blunt force trauma. The injuries may range from punctured lungs and ruptured spleen to internal bleeding.
- Losses of limb: A collision between a car and a pedestrian can cause massive trauma to the pedestrian’s limbs. The injury can be so destructive that traumatic amputation can occur at the scene. In other cases, surgical amputation may be necessary afterward. This can be life-threatening to the victim either way.
- Bone fractures: The violent impact of a car hitting a person can cause bones to break or fracture. These can be serious and will likely take a long time to heal. In some cases, the victim could even suffer long-term pain and never regain full use of the limb.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to a U.S. Department of Transportation report, pedestrian fatalities have increased 51 percent nationwide since their lowest point in 2009. An average of one pedestrian dies in a traffic crash every 1.5 hours. Here are a few more disturbing statistics to consider:
- In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians died in car accidents.
- More fatalities occurred in the dark (75%) than in daylight (22%), dusk (2%), and dawn (1%).
- Seventy-two percent of the fatalities occurred at non-intersections.
- Seventeen percent of traffic accident deaths were pedestrians.
- Forty-eight percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents involved alcohol by the driver or the pedestrian.
- Twenty-one percent of pedestrians killed got hit by hit-and-run drivers.
In Washington, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission reports that 32 percent of pedestrian crash fatalities involved distracted drivers. In addition, 43 percent of deaths involved an impaired pedestrian.
Pedestrian Laws in Washington State
Washington law sets specific rules for when drivers must yield to pedestrians and vice versa. These laws can help determine who was at fault for the accident. Drivers are legally required to be vigilant and watch out for pedestrians. However, pedestrians explicitly have the right of way in the following places:
- On the sidewalk
- At marked crosswalks
- At intersections, whether or not the crosswalk is marked
However, this does not give pedestrians free rein over the roadways. Drivers have the right of way:
- In the middle of the road, apart from crosswalks and intersections
- When traffic signals say so, like when they have green lights and pedestrians have stop signals
Even at crosswalks, pedestrians may not dart out into traffic so suddenly that cars do not have time to stop. Whatever the time and place, drivers and pedestrians must obey traffic signals, signs, and officers.
Proving Fault After a Pedestrian Accident in Washington State
As you can see above, drivers are generally required to yield to pedestrians unless those pedestrians are jaywalking. These legal requirements can make determining fault easier in a pedestrian accident than in a case involving two cars. However, the details can get messy, particularly if the driver does not have time to stop. Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that both parties can share part of the blame. In a successful personal injury suit, the plaintiff’s award will decrease by the percentage of fault they share.
As in a car-on-car case, proving fault in a car-on-pedestrian case involves determining how each party contributed. For example, if a distracted driver struck a pedestrian who darted into the road, a jury might determine both parties were at fault. And let’s say the driver was 90 percent at fault, and the pedestrian was 10 percent at fault. If this pedestrian incurred $50,000 in damages, that award would decrease by 10 percent, leaving up to $45,000 available.
Recovering Damages in a Personal Injury Suit
Pedestrians who get hit by cars can develop severe or even life-threatening injuries. Recovery can take a toll on your life and finances. Thankfully, a personal injury suit can help you win compensation for some of the associated costs. If you or your loved one got hurt in a pedestrian accident, here are some of the damages you might be able to recover in a personal injury suit:
- All recovery-related medical bills
- Property repair or replacement, if you were carrying anything valuable
- Lost wages due to time off work
- Future loss in income due to temporary or permanent disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Other miscellaneous, recovery-related expenses
- Wrongful death compensation, if your loved one died
No money can ever repay you for your injuries or restore your peace of mind. But a judgment or settlement for these costs can help with your recovery. An experienced injury attorney can help you determine which damages to seek in your pedestrian accident case.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations is three years to file a suit for compensation for a pedestrian accident. In other words, you have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. If you file a case after the deadline passes, the court may dismiss your filing, eliminating your ability to sue for compensation.
Recovering from a pedestrian accident can be extremely difficult. In addition to sky-high medical bills and physical and emotional pain, you may suffer a life-long disability. But you don’t have to face this trying time alone. If you believe the driver was responsible, you may have legal options.
The Lakewood, Washington pedestrian accident lawyers of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs can be your lifeline. For over sixty years, we have been helping personal injury victims just like you to win compensation for their injuries. With lawyers serving