We’ve all had this experience: you’re using a crosswalk to safely cross the street when, suddenly, you see an enormous gleaming car or truck headed straight toward you. They screech to a halt, just feet from you, and adrenaline pumps through your body as you imagine what could have happened if the driver hadn’t realized their mistake. Pedestrian accidents can be catastrophic and are often fatal.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just last year over 5,000 pedestrians were killed by vehicles and an additional 70,000 were injured. In Missouri alone, vehicle accidents killed 109 pedestrians, the highest number of pedestrians killed in the state in over ten years.
NHTSA’s data also shows that the national percentage of people who are killed outside of a vehicle, including motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists has increased from its low of 20% in the late nineties to 32% currently. There is some evidence that men are more likely to be killed in vehicle accidents; in 2014, 70% of traffic deaths (3,411 out of 4,884) were male pedestrians.
Who’s to Blame for a Pedestrian Accident?
It is natural to ask, why are so many pedestrians being struck, injured, and killed by vehicles? There are numerous causes for this kind of accident. While the majority of drivers are conscious of the responsibility they assume when they leave their driveway, unfortunately not every driver acts accordingly.
Intoxicated, distracted, or drowsy drivers often overestimate their ability to stay safe on the road and swerve into bike lanes or sidewalks. Distracted driving due to cell phone use, in particular, is on the rise. Alternatively, hurried drivers on their way to work might forget to check for traffic signals and make a right turn into an occupied crosswalk, or a speeding driver experiencing road rage may single-mindedly ignore vulnerable parties who share the road.
Other factors that can contribute to automobile accidents involving pedestrians include unmarked or poorly marked crosswalks, lack of sidewalks, and defective road signals and lights. In cases that involve these factors, in addition to the driver, the city or municipality may also be liable. If the accident was caused by a brake failure, the manufacturing or car company may be at fault.
Pedestrians can also contribute to collisions by wearing dark clothing at night, walking in undesignated areas of the road, and/or being intoxicated. Regardless of the potential for partial fault, however, it is wise to seek the advice of a lawyer, as a pedestrian may still be entitled to fair compensation for their injuries.
Fortunately, since 1983, Missouri has practiced a system called “comparative fault.” In this system, even if the plaintiff in a personal injury case is partially at fault for the accident, they can still be awarded compensation from the defendant based on the percentage of fault that the jury determines for each party. That is, if a pedestrian is determined to be 20% at fault for the collision, the driver will still be required to pay the pedestrian 80% of the total amount awarded.
Coping With an Accident
Injuries resulting from auto accidents involving pedestrians are often catastrophic. Unlike drivers, pedestrians are completely unprotected from the full force of the collision, and, even in low-speed accidents, a pedestrian or cyclist can sustain major life-changing injuries such as broken bones, internal bleeding, spinal damage, head injury, paralysis, and even death. Recovering from such injuries not only requires the time and support of multiple family members and friends but also prevents the injured party from going to work or caring for their dependents.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian collision, you are most likely struggling to manage insurance companies, hospitals, and leave from work. In certain instances, you may even be dealing with the grief of losing a loved one and making funeral arrangements.
Because of the stress of negotiating all of these complexities, it is often relieving to enlist the advice of a legal professional who can help bring a lawsuit for your injuries. Our law firm understands the emotional strife that severe injury and sudden death can cause, and we will work to bring you whatever peace and closure are possible in such a painful time.
Filing a Claim for a Pedestrian Accidents in St. Louis
For pedestrian accidents, lawsuits must be filed within 5 years after the accident occurs. This is called the “statute of limitations.” This refers to a law that governs the timeframe in which a potential plaintiff may bring a claim in order to preserve evidence.
It is always best to hire a pedestrian accident attorney and bring a lawsuit as soon as possible after the event in question so that eyewitnesses and paramedics can be interviewed in a timely manner. Even if you have recovered from all injuries sustained in the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation.
Damages awarded in pedestrian collisions vary widely. Usually, they are comprised of a combination of “economic” damages and “pain and suffering” damages.
- Economic damages refer to the combined total of medical bills, lost wages, and future medical treatment, among other things.
- Pain and suffering, though more difficult to monetize, includes emotional concerns such as grief, trauma, and continuing mental issues that may develop from the accident and injury.
Some states place damage caps on the amount that can be awarded for pain and suffering; however, in Missouri, there is currently no limit to the amount you can receive for your losses. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help maximize your award.
The Importance of an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries as a result of a pedestrian collision, please call me to schedule a free consultation. The Dysart Law Firm has over twenty years of experience representing people in your situation, and I may be able to provide assistance to you in this difficult time.
As a pedestrian accident attorney, I work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not pay us anything before we successfully recover for you.
Contacting us to get the legal advice and guidance you require to help you move forward.