Pedestrian Death Accidents Reach an All-time High in California

By May 3, 2019Uncategorized

The number of pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities have sharply risen both in California and across the U.S. for many reasons.

People can be seriously injured or killed when they are struck by motor vehicles while they are walking, jogging or riding a scooter or bicycle.  

There are several factors that have contributed to the increase in pedestrian injury related deaths. Both pedestrians and motorists should take steps to minimize the risk of being involved in accidents.

Pedestrians who are injured and the families of pedestrians who are killed in accidents may have legal rights to recover compensation for the losses that they have suffered.

Pedestrian accident statistics

The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a report that showed that pedestrian fatalities in 2018 were at a 28-year high.

During 2018, 6,227 people were killed in pedestrian accidents nationwide. This was a 4 percent year-over-year increase from 2017 and was the highest number of pedestrian deaths since 1990.

Since 2008, the executive director of the GHSA reports that pedestrian fatalities have increased by 35 percent. Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California combined to account for 46 percent of the total number of pedestrian deaths in the nation. California had the highest number of deaths in 2018 with 432 fatalities.

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.5 hours. Additionally, almost129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015.

SUVs were much likelier to be involved in fatal pedestrian accidents because of their larger sizes and heavier weights. The number of SUV-involved pedestrian fatalities increased by 50 percent from 2013 to 2018.

By comparison, the number of pedestrian fatalities in which passenger cars were involved increased by 30 percent during the same time period.

Factors leading to the increase in pedestrian accidents

Multiple factors are believed to contribute to the increase in pedestrian accidents. One factor is that SUVs are likelier to cause serious injuries and fatalities when they are involved in accidents with pedestrians. Since 2013, the proportion of SUVs that are registered has increased.

At the same time, more people are choosing to walk for health reasons.  Some people are choosing to walk to get to work. From 2007 to 2016, the number of people who chose to walk to work increased by 4 percent.

Walking after dark is dangerous, and nighttime pedestrian accidents increased more than those that occurred during the daylight hours. Nighttime fatalities rose by 45 percent from 2007 to 2017 while daytime fatalities rose by 11 percent.

Behavioral factors also have contributed to the increase in pedestrian accidents and fatalities. Drivers are much more likely to be distracted by smartphones and other electronic devices now than they were in 2007 because of the widespread use of cell phones, GPS and constant texting.  Pedestrians may also fail to check before crossing the street when they are using their own cell phone or our distracted by wearing buds in both ears and listening to other audio devices. Other driver-related factors that have contributed to the increase of pedestrian accidents and fatalities are speeding and drowsy driving.

Both pedestrians and motorists who were involved in fatal pedestrian accidents were more likely to be under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. In 2017, around 50 percent of the fatal pedestrian crashes involved drunk or “buzzed” pedestrians or drivers.

Pedestrian rights when you are injured in an accident

If you were struck by a vehicle while you were crossing the street in a marked crosswalk or even through an unmarked intersection, you may have legal rights to recover compensation for your losses. Each case is different and based on the particular circumstances surrounding all the factors including weather, roadway conditions, etc.

As we have previously explained, pedestrians who are struck while crossing the street at marked or unmarked intersections generally have the right of way under California law. According to Cal. Vehicle Code § 21950(a), motorists must yield to pedestrians who are crossing the street within crosswalks or at unmarked intersections.

You may be able to recover damages if the driver who struck you was at least partially at fault for your accident injury or fatality. For example, if the driver was speeding, talking on his or her cell phone, or had run a red light, you may be able to prove that the driver’s negligence caused your accident, injuries, and the resulting harm.

By contrast, if you crossed in the middle of the street instead of at an intersection and stepped into traffic without the driver having enough time to avoid hitting you, you may be unlikely to recover unless of course the person who struck you was impaired, or the roadway was defective in some way. It pays to consult an experienced and skilled attorney.

Your rights when your loved one has been killed in a pedestrian accident

If your loved one or a family member has been killed by a negligent driver in a pedestrian accident, you may have the right to recover compensation. In order to file a wrongful death claim, however, you must have a specific relationship to the deceased person and you must also satisfy other conditions.

California limits the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to people who have the following types of relationships:

-Spouse, domestic partner, children, or grandchildren if the children are deceased

-People who would stand to inherit under the state’s intestacy laws if no one remains in the first category

-People who were dependents of the deceased person

-Putative spouse, children of a putative spouse, or stepchildren

-Dependent minors who lived with the deceased person for more than 180 days before he or she died

Avoiding pedestrian accidents

There are steps that both pedestrians and motorists can take to avoid pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians should never try to cross the road at a mid-block area but should instead only cross at an intersection.

It is wise for pedestrians to avoid using their smartphones and other distracting devices including headphones while they are walking.  Pedestrians should also avoid drinking alcohol before they go for a stroll down memory lane. If they will be walking at night, they should wear bright, reflective clothing so that they are easier to see. Also walk on lighted path and or protective sidewalk verses an unlit road.

Motorists should stay alert while they drive and watch for pedestrians along the sidewalks who appear as if they might try to cross the road. They should adhere to the posted speed limits and should avoid using their smartphones and other electronic devices when they drive. Motorists should also avoid driving when they are drowsy and should never get behind the wheel when they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, new prescription drugs or all three.

Get help from an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in the North Bay

If you have suffered a serious injury in a pedestrian accident or have lost your loved one, it is important for you to immediately talk with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer at Fiumara & Milligan Law today. You have a short 6-month statute of limitations if your claim is against a public entity and only 2 years against anyone else including all private parties.

Our Team of experienced and highly skilled attorneys, staff and personnel will happily assist you and answer all your questions.  We also offer you an honest assessment of whether you have valid grounds to file a lawsuit. If we agree to take your case, we will FIGHT to recover the maximum amount of compensation to which you should be entitled. YOU WILL NOT PAY Anything UNTIL we WIN FOR YOU!

Call the Fiumara & Milligan Law today to schedule a consultation at 707-571-8600 or at our other North Bay conveniently located address at 415-492-4507 to learn more about your potential claim and how we may maximize your compensation.

We stand by our motto:

“The Right Attorney makes all the Difference.”

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