Everyone is aware of the dangers of being involved in a motor vehicle crash as a driver or passenger, but you may be surprised how many pedestrians are injured each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, almost 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year in traffic accidents and more than 75,000 are injured. Additionally, pedestrians are injured in many other accidents that do not involve motor vehicles, such as slip and falls. In any case, your ability to recover compensation for injuries sustained in the incident will depend on proving that some other party was negligent in causing the accident.
Proving negligence involves the concept of duty; that is, for a party to be found liable for an accident, he or she must have had some duty that was breached resulting in injury to another. Sometimes the issue is clear-cut. For instance, if a pedestrian is legally walking with the green light in a well-lit and marked intersection, and a driver runs through the red light and crashes into the individual, the driver will in all likelihood be found liable. However, many situations are not so obvious and the particular facts and circumstances must be analyzed.
In general, the driver of a vehicle has a duty to operate that vehicle in a manner that ensures the safety of others with whom he or she shares the roadway. This certainly includes following traffic rules and regulations. Where a driver causes an injury accident while committing a traffic offense, as in the above example of the driver who ran a red light, it may be considered negligence per se. This means that the act of breaking the law and the injury that resulted is all that needs to be proved. Where there is no violation of law, the specific act that demonstrated some neglect of ordinary care must be shown to recover damages.
One of the more common factors involved in vehicle crashes is distracted driving. Defined as anything that takes the driver’s focus off driving, the most common reason for inattentiveness is operating a cellphone. Texting is perhaps the most dangerous behavior, but speaking on your phone, dialing a number and answering a call are all problematic.
Included among other common distractions are:
Eating or drinking
Operating the vehicle’s audio controls
Operating the vehicle’s GPS system
Speaking with passengers
Some collisions do occur without any fault of the driver; they are indeed accidents and could not have been prevented. Or, as the driver may allege, the collision was caused by the pedestrian.
It is the pedestrian’s duty to travel on the roadway in such a manner that is safe. Typically, this means such things as ensuring you can be seen by drivers and don’t suddenly step out into the street. If a driver simply can’t see you as a pedestrian or has no time to react to avoid a crash, it may not be his or her fault. And in fact, many drivers’ insurance companies will attempt to place the blame on the pedestrian.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Even if the pedestrian is determined to be partially at fault, he or she may under certain circumstances nonetheless recover damages. Under certain state laws, if the injured plaintiff is 51 percent or less negligent, damages may still be awarded. However, the award will be reduced by the prorated degree of the plaintiff’s fault. For example, if the pedestrian had incurred $50,000 in damages but was found to be 30 percent negligent, the damage award would be limited to $35,000.
Other Pedestrian Accidents
Other parties in addition to drivers may also have duties in regard to pedestrians. Under an area of law known as premises liability, the owner, occupier or party that controls land has a duty to maintain that property in a safe manner. For instance, if you as a pedestrian trip and fall on a sidewalk, there may be an issue of lack of maintenance. Was the sidewalk in disrepair? Did tree roots cause the surface to be uneven? Did a business owner leave debris outside his or her building? Among the many issues to be considered in a premises liability case are did the owner/occupier create the liability, was the owner/occupier aware of the problem and even if the owner/occupier did not actually know of the problem, should they have known.
Contact a Houston Pedestrian Accident Lawyer for Legal Advice
If you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important to seek experienced legal representation to be certain you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Don’t rely on an insurance company to take care of you. For a free consultation to explore the options you may have in your case, call the Doan Law Firm.