Does the Pedestrian Have the Right of Way?

The United States is awash in vehicles. As hard as it is to fathom, there’s nearly one registered vehicle for every man, woman, and child in our country. One consequence of that staggering number is its risk to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Injured pedestrians and surviving families have legal recourse in the aftermath of these accidents. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits can help compensate victims and survivors to cover medical costs, lost wages, emotional suffering, and other consequences related to the accident.

Personal injury law exists to hold drivers who recklessly or negligently cause pedestrian accidents accountable for their actions. Despite efforts to mitigate the risks to pedestrians with sidewalks, barriers, or other engineering measures, serious pedestrian accidents and fatalities have risen over the past 15 years and show no signs of slowing.

Facts about Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian Right Away

In 2021, an estimated 7,300 people nationwide died in pedestrian accidents, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That was an increase of about 13% over the prior year; pedestrians made up almost one in five traffic-related deaths for the year. Perhaps more alarmingly, the number of pedestrian fatalities has surged more than 80% since 2009 — even with the advent of new sensor technology that alerts drivers to the presence of a person on foot. Pedestrian fatalities are at their highest rate in more than 40 years, according to the IIHS.

People between 45 and 69 are at the highest risk of becoming a pedestrian fatality, followed by those in the 20 to 44 age group. About seven of every 10 fatalities involve a male pedestrian. Pedestrian deaths are most frequent in October and most commonly occur on Fridays or Saturdays. In Nevada, between 2016 and 2020, almost 400 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents, or about 80 per year, according to Zero Fatalities Nevada. There were about as many accidents involving pedestrians as there were fatalities. About one in four total traffic fatalities in Nevada involved pedestrians.

What Are the Top Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

Alcohol represents a significant factor in pedestrian accidents, but not necessarily in the way you might think. Almost two-fifths of pedestrians killed in crashes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. had blood alcohol concentrations above the legal limit. About one in five daytime pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol in 2021, according to the IIHS. Both numbers are down substantially from 40 years ago. However, most traffic accidents in Nevada comprise drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs. According to authorities, drunk driving also contributes to the accident and fatality rate. Almost half of all fatalities in the state involve impaired driving.

Other major factors in pedestrian accidents include the following:

  • Bad weather, which reduces driver and pedestrian visibility.
  • Distracted driving, such as texting while driving.
  • Failure to heed traffic signals.
  • New and inexperienced drivers.
  • Time of day, as many accidents occur after dark.

Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrian accidents, by their very nature, result in some of the most severe injuries imaginable. Unlike drivers, pedestrians have nothing to shield or restrain them, such as a seatbelt. Some of the most common injuries include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions.
  • Spinal cord injuries, maybe including paralysis.
  • Pelvic injuries, such as dislocations or fractures.
  • Broken bones, especially involving the legs.
  • Soft tissue injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, lacerations, or other types of damage.

Pedestrians who survive accidents may also have to recover emotionally, above and beyond the pain and suffering from physical injuries. Victims of pedestrian accidents often struggle with emotional difficulties such as anger, anxiety, or depression. These types of emotional injuries can also be addressed in the context of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Our attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group can help explain how emotional suffering is defined under the law and what types of compensation you may receive.

Pedestrian Accidents and Liability

In simplest terms, pedestrians have the right-of-way over drivers in crosswalks and intersections. However, there are limitations. For instance, the act of jaywalking — crossing the street in an area outside the crosswalk when one is present — is illegal and may impact a determination of liability in your accident.

You can also be held responsible for your accident if you’re struck while walking along a roadway or highway rather than on available sidewalks. When there are no sidewalks, Nevada requires pedestrians to walk along on the left side of the road or shoulder, facing traffic. Violating these rules may make it harder to prove your personal injury case or negotiate a settlement for compensation for injuries suffered in a pedestrian accident.

Compensation in Pedestrian Accidents

Under Nevada personal injury law, you have the right to seek compensation for expenses tied to the accident from the person who caused it. Nevada is considered a comparative fault state in connection with personal injury matters. That means a judge or a jury can assign percentages of blame to drivers and pedestrians based on their assessment of the facts and evidence.

Generally speaking, in pedestrian accidents, victims can seek compensation for the following:

  • Out-of-pocket expenses for emergency medical care, such as hospital stays.
  • Cost of ongoing health care, such as physical therapy appointments or follow-up procedures.
  • Lost wages for time missed while recovering from injuries and attending follow-up appointments.
  • Pain and suffering, and emotional distress caused by the accident.

Properly structuring a claim is one of the many ways our personal injury attorneys can help in the aftermath of a pedestrian accident.

Speed Your Pedestrian Accident Recovery

Pedestrian accidents are scary, and recovery can be painful. You want to focus on getting better rather than the red tape involved with an insurance claim. Our De Castroverde Law Group team can guide you through the legal process to obtain the compensation you deserve for your pain. We’ll study the facts and evidence of your accident and fight hard for a just amount, starting with negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the opposing insurance company. We’ll be ready to go to court if those negotiations prove unfruitful. Call us or contact us online today for a free consultation.

Photo Credit: Pedestrian crossing by Toshiyuki IMAI is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0