Most drivers only look out for other motorists. They do not constantly look out for pedestrians, especially outside of crosswalks. So, most pedestrian accidents occur in such areas, which means the vehicle is traveling at or near full speed at the moment of impact. As outlined below, that speed usually causes very serious injuries.
Because of the serious nature of pedestrian injuries, a Rockford personal injury attorney might be able to obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation normally includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
Speed is one of the leading factors in pedestrian accidents. At impact speeds below 25mph, the pedestrian death rate is about 10 percent. That proportion skyrockets to 75 percent at impact speeds above 50mph.
Velocity also increases the risk of a collision. At 30mph, most vehicles travel about six car lengths before their drivers can safely stop them. At 50mph, the stopping distance doubles to twelve car lengths. Environmental factors and other factors, such as vehicle weight, increase stopping distance even more.
Distracted driving also causes several pedestrian accidents. Most drivers’ eyes are drawn to motion, like fast-moving cars or quick-changing traffic lights. Slow-moving pedestrians, especially when they are in unexpected places, do not fall into this category.
Most pedestrian accidents involve the ordinary negligence doctrine. Negligence is basically a lack of care. Most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must avoid accidents when possible and drive defensively. Striking a pedestrian, even if the pedestrian does not have the right of way, clearly violates that duty.
A few pedestrian accidents involve the negligence per se rule. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law. However, as mentioned, most pedestrian accidents occur outside crosswalks. Additionally, many police officers do not cite drivers in these situations. Many officers see these incidents as civil disputes between insurance companies. They do not want to get involved.
The sudden emergency defense is the most common defense in non-crosswalk pedestrian accidents. Insurance company lawyers often claim the victim “darted out into traffic,” so the tortfeasor could not avoid the accident.
But the sudden emergency defense, which applies if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency, usually does not hold up in court in these situations. A jaywalking pedestrian is not a “sudden emergency,” because such incidents are not completely unexpected.
Distracted walking is usually the most common defense in crosswalk pedestrian accidents. This legal doctrine shifts the blame from the tortfeasor to the victim. The insurance company bears the burden of proof on this point. Evidence of distracted walking includes things like cell phone use immediately before the accident.
Rely on a Diligent Attorney
Injured pedestrians could be entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford personal injury lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.