Houston Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
The steady increase in the number of people who choose to walk instead of drive has also meant a steady increase in pedestrian and car accidents. How common are these accidents and how do they occur? We answer these questions and provide information about what to do if someone you love or you were involved in a pedestrian accident and sustained an injury as a result.
How Common Are Pedestrian Accidents?
According to the CDC’s Motor Vehicle Safety division, 2017 saw 137,000 pedestrians needing treatment in emergency departments for injuries sustained when involved in accidents involving a vehicle. That same year, 5,977 pedestrians were killed in accidents involving vehicles.1
Unfortunately, Houston is among the country’s most dangerous cities for pedestrians, according to the high number of yearly pedestrian accident fatalities it reports.
How and When Do These Accidents Typically Occur?
Car and pedestrian accidents can occur in a number of ways and by either party.
Driver alcohol impairment has been identified as a major contributing factor in accidents with pedestrians. The increased use of cell phones has also resulted in a high number of accidents being caused by distracted driving.
In addition, larger and heavier vehicles like SUVs are becoming increasingly popular and, therefore, are increasingly present on our roads. Drivers operating these larger vehicles, and who have hit pedestrians, have consequently caused these victims far more serious injuries.
Driver negligence also causes pedestrian accidents. Negligent action behind the wheel includes failing to yield or signal properly, running red lights, ignoring traffic signs, speeding, and failing to moderate speed according to weather or traffic conditions.
Pedestrians can also be the cause of accidents with vehicles. Just as with drivers, the increased use of smartphones can cause an accident via distracted walking. In fact, the number of fatalities occurring as the result of distracted walking is increasing across the nation.
Accidents also commonly occur due to pedestrian failure to ensure drivers see them prior to their crossing a roadway. Pedestrians who weren’t sufficiently visible have also caused accidents to happen.
Walking on the roadway—as opposed to a sidewalk or another area designated for pedestrians—has also resulted in serious accidents and injuries.
Other Contributing Factors
In addition to driver and pedestrian causes, other factors can play a role in accidents. For example, urban areas are sites of a higher number of pedestrian accidents than rural areas. The time of day and even the season can contribute to accident occurrence, as can light conditions at the time of the crash; most of these kinds of accidents occur after sunset when low visibility makes it harder for pedestrians to be seen by drivers.
The fact that most roads are made for drivers and not pedestrians is also a contributing factor in accidents.
Common Injuries Associated with Car-Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians who have sustained injuries as the result of getting hit by a car have been treated for the following:
- Concussions and post-concussive syndrome
- Broken bones and fractures
- Head and brain wounds
- Soft tissue injury
- Bruising and contusions
Although their severity differs, these injuries can result in time lost at work or complete job loss, as well as an increased cost for necessary surgery, physiotherapy, and other medical attention needed to treat these injuries.
How Drivers Can Prevent Accidents
Drivers can do their part in preventing accidents with pedestrians. They can begin by understanding rights-of-way. For example, a pedestrian who is crossing an intersection has the right-of-way over a vehicle that is making a right turn at that intersection. Therefore, a driver can prevent an accident simply by waiting for a pedestrian to cross before turning.
This right-of-way rule also applies to pedestrians on private roads, at building entrances, in alleys, by driveways, and near stop signs.
How Pedestrians Can Prevent Accidents
The fact that visibility is a major factor in the occurrence of accidents makes it imperative for pedestrians to make themselves more visible. This can be done by wearing bright or reflective clothing or carrying a flashlight when walking.
Pedestrians can also increase their safety by using intersections or designated crosswalks, wherever possible, and by not walking on the road itself. Instead, pedestrians should walk on the shoulder of the side that faces traffic.
Both Drivers and Pedestrians Have a Duty of Care
A driver of any vehicle is responsible for the safe operation of that vehicle. Safe operation includes maintaining a safe speed, driving according to road and weather conditions, and being aware of pedestrians. Drivers must also follow the rules of the road and make a reasonable effort to both maintain vehicle control and avoid accidents.
A pedestrian’s responsibilities include being aware of their surroundings and making themselves visible to drivers. This begins with never assuming that a driver will see them; before they step into an intersection, a pedestrian should make eye contact with oncoming drivers to confirm they’ve been seen before proceeding. They should also obey all signals and signs and watch for vehicles entering and exiting parking lots, alleys, and driveways as they pass.
What to Do if You Were a Pedestrian Hit by a Car
Unfortunately, being alert, visible, and careful while you walk aren’t always enough. Responsible pedestrians become involved in accidents with vehicles every day because of distracted, impaired, or otherwise irresponsible drivers.
Get Medical Attention
The first thing to do if you’ve been involved in an accident is to get medical attention as soon as possible, even if injuries aren’t yet apparent. Many injury symptoms, such as those associated with concussions, may not manifest until hours or days following an accident. Getting treatment immediately also allows a timeline to be created. In court, this will be evidence that you were injured and did receive a diagnosis and treatment at a medical facility.
Keep all of your medical records in one file organized by date so that they can be easily accessed and a timeline quickly established.
File a Police Report
The state of Texas gives accident victims who have suffered bodily injury 10 days to file a police report with the Texas Department of Transportation. The report will contain information that provides critical evidence as to who was responsible for the accident. You should request a copy of the report from the officer or the police station where it was filed. The TDOT will also have a copy you can request.
Get Witness Statements and Photos
If any people were at the scene who witnessed the accident, you’ll definitely want to get statements from these individuals. However, it’s important to not discuss the accident with anyone; when asking for statements, it’s important to stick to the facts.
You’ll also want to take photos of your injuries, as well as the accident scene and any damage caused to the vehicle or other objects.
Can You Sue?
The short answer is yes; you can sue if you are a pedestrian involved in a collision with a car. However, in Texas, pedestrians must be able to show that another party was at fault for the accident that caused you to become injured, and, in most cases, this will require proof that the other party was negligent in the way they operated their vehicle.
Experience Matters in Complicated Pedestrian Car Accidents
Although the law is pretty cut and dried when it comes to determining fault, there are many factors that can cause the outcome to vary widely. This is why it’s so important to ensure you call a Houston car accident lawyer with experience.
The personal injury law offices of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP include Houston’s top pedestrian and car accident lawyers. We have used our combined 100 years of experience to recover millions of dollars in damages for personal injury victims.
If a loved one or you were a pedestrian who became injured in an accident with a vehicle, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Visit us online or call to claim your free consultation now: (713) 364-0723.
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