More people are walking every day, both as a form of exercise and a healthier way to commute. Along with the increased societal benefits of walking, however, more walking also means more accidents involving pedestrians. Indiana experienced 1,705 collisions involving pedestrians in 2017. Nationwide, 5,977 pedestrians died in traffic collisions in that same year. All accidents are dangerous, but pedestrian accidents are often catastrophic and/or fatal. Drivers are protected by their cars, but pedestrians are far more vulnerable to injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you should speak with an experienced Indianapolis pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can review your case and discuss your legal options.
Factors Contributing to Driver Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents
Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care, and a failure to do so constitutes negligence. However, when a negligent driver hits a pedestrian, it’s usually the pedestrian who suffers the most severe injuries; the driver may not even be injured. Common factors contributing to negligent driving include:
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving involves all kinds of risky behavior that diverts a driver’s attention, such as checking a cell phone or changing the radio station.
- Alcohol-impaired driving. According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017 someone died every 48 minutes due to an alcohol-impaired traffic accident.
- Speeding. Driving over the speed limit is a leading cause of accidents, contributing to an average of nearly 55 percent of accidents in the country. A driver who speeds has less time to react, and a speeding car hits a pedestrian with a much greater impact than one driving at or below the speed limit.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Drivers who fail to yield when turning may run down pedestrians who have the right-of-way when crossing intersections.
- Failure to signal before turning. If a driver is making a turn and fails to signal, a pedestrian who is crossing the road has no warning and may sustain an injury.
- Failure to obey traffic signals or signs. When drivers fail to obey all traffic signs and signals, they put pedestrians at risk.
- Failure to obey school regulations. School zones are often crowded with children, buses, and impatient drivers. For this reason, drivers must obey all signs, speed limits, and drop off/pick up rules in school zones to ensure the safety of everyone.
Pedestrian Laws in Indiana
Pedestrians also have a responsibility to obey the law. Everyone should understand the following Indiana pedestrian laws:
- If a vehicle stops to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, then another vehicle cannot pass the stopped vehicle.
- Pedestrians must obey all traffic control devices unless directed otherwise by a law enforcement officer.
- If a pedestrian is crossing at a location other than a marked crosswalk, he or she must yield to traffic.
- If there is no sidewalk available, pedestrians may walk on the shoulder of the road. They must stay as far as possible from the edge of the road and yield to all vehicles.
- Drivers must always yield to blind pedestrians who are using a walking cane or a seeing-eye guide dog.
- If a pedestrian is using or approaching a crosswalk that is on the same half of a road as a vehicle, the driver must yield.
- When approaching any yield sign, drivers must also yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians that are simultaneously crossing the road.
- Pedestrians are not permitted to leave a curb or enter into a crosswalk if it entails entering into the path of a moving vehicle that is dangerously close to them.
- Pedestrians are only permitted to cross an intersection diagonally if authorized by a traffic control device to do so.
Other Contributing Factors in Pedestrian Accidents
Some of the other leading factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents include the following:
- Whether the accident occurred at a designated pedestrian crosswalk or not
- Exactly where the pedestrian crossed and for what reason
- The time of day or night that the accident occurred
- Weather conditions that may have affected visibility
- The type and color of clothing that the pedestrian was wearing at the time of the accident
- Whether or not the pedestrian was distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident
Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
When a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is far more likely to suffer serious or catastrophic injuries than the vehicle driver. First, the vehicle hits the pedestrian; next, the force of the collision propels the victim into the pavement or a solid object. Some of the most common pedestrian accident injuries include:
- Torn and sprained ligaments
- Scalp cuts and bruises
- Cuts and bruising on the face and hands
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury (SCI)
What You Can Do to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents
Avoiding pedestrian accidents requires proactive actions by both drivers and pedestrians. Below we discuss some important safety tips.
Tips for Drivers
- Don’t drive while distracted. Even changing the radio station or checking your GPS can take your attention away from the road.
- Check your mirrors and continue to check them when backing up or in crowded areas.
- When you get in your car, adjust your seat and mirrors, and make sure that your windshield is clean.
- Don’t speed in bad weather conditions. Rain, snow, fog, or other poor weather can impair your visibility and ability to stop in time to avoid an accident.
- Use your turn signals. Not only are you signaling your intentions to other cars by using your turn signals, but also to pedestrians.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Walk on the sidewalk, if possible.
- Cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Watch for cars in all directions, and never assume a driver sees you.
- Pay attention, do not walk when impaired by alcohol or drugs, and do not use distracting devices while walking.
- Wear visible clothing, and use reflective materials and flashlights as needed.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure that they notice your presence.
- Check for cars entering or exiting driveways or backing up in parking lots.
Why You Need an Indianapolis Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Indiana law involves strict time limits called statutes of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits, so it is in your best interest to contact an attorney right away following a pedestrian accident. An injured individual and his or her legal team must prove that the defendant is liable for the accident and the related injuries. Your attorney may wish to use the services of investigators and experts to support your claim. In Indiana, a plaintiff in any personal injury case must prove that he or she was no more than fifty percent at fault for an accident if he or she wishes to recover compensation. If the injured individual was partially liable for an accident, but only fifty percent or less, then a court will reduce his or her compensation based on the percentage of fault.
If a pedestrian accident is fatal, the decedent’s family should pursue a wrongful death claim, as outlined by Indiana law. Your attorney will advise you on the law regarding these claims.
If you have sustained an injury in a pedestrian accident, you need the best legal representation available. For further information or to schedule your free initial consultation, call the Law Office of William W. Hurst today at (317) 636-0808, or contact us online.