If you have been injured as a pedestrian, it is important to consult an Atlanta pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact our experienced, dedicated legal team at Brauns Law, PC. so we can review your case.
Increasingly, people in urban areas are walking for health and pleasure. However, going for a walk can also be hazardous. According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, pedestrian deaths account for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. In Georgia, 260 pedestrians were fatally injured by a car in 2017. As in many cities, Atlanta area residents are heavily dependent on cars for transportation. Fulton and DeKalb counties had the highest number of pedestrian deaths. Also, the Atlanta area has the highest fatality rates in the country for males, Hispanics, and those in the 15 to 34 and 35 to 54 age groups.
Were You the Victim of a Pedestrian Accident in the Atlanta Area?
When a car hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is nearly always injured, often seriously. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center reported that almost three out of four pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas. Approximately 26 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6 and 8:59 p.m. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable. According to the CDC, one out of five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who died in traffic accidents were pedestrians. Individuals aged 65 and older account for 18 percent of all pedestrian deaths. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you need to speak with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer to learn about your legal options.
Common Causes of Atlanta Pedestrian Accidents
All kinds of circumstances can lead to an accident. Heavy traffic, left-hand turns, unmarked crosswalks, quiet cars, and distracting devices in the hands of both the driver and the pedestrian are just a few of the causes of Atlanta pedestrian accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lists some of the factors that contribute to Atlanta pedestrian accidents:
- Urban and suburban areas have a high rate of pedestrian accidents
- SUVs and other high horsepower vehicles are often involved in pedestrian crashes
- Most accidents happen in low visibility conditions, or at night
- Accidents are often on roads that are busy or are major arteries
- Accidents often happen outside of intersections
- Design of roads, cars, and lighting
- Inadequate speed limit enforcement
Other common causes of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An estimated 48 percent of pedestrian deaths involve drinking on the part of either with the driver or pedestrian.
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Failing to come to a complete stop at a crosswalk or intersection
- Failing to obey all street signs and signals
- Backing up without checking to see if a person was behind the vehicle
- Not slowing down at a crosswalk
Georgia’s Laws Protecting Victims of Pedestrian Accidents
Like victims of other accidents involving motor vehicles, pedestrians who are injured due to a negligent driver are permitted to seek compensation for their injuries through a third-party claim with the driver’s insurance company or through a personal injury lawsuit. Here are some of the highlights of Georgia’s personal injury law:
- Victims generally have up to two years in which to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Damages typically awarded in pedestrian accident cases include medical expenses, lost wages for time away from work while recovering and traveling to and from medical appointments related to the injury, pain and suffering, modifications to the home or vehicle that are necessary for accessibility after a disabling injury, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. It should be noted that punitive damages may also be sought in some cases, such as if the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time the accident occurred.
- For a successful outcome in an Atlanta pedestrian accident case, you must prove that the driver who hit you was behaving negligently and breached the duty of care to obey all traffic laws or otherwise driver in a safe manner, resulting in your injuries.
- Georgia follows a modified comparative negligence rule in which you can only sue another party for negligence if you were less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. For example, if it was discovered that you were disobeying traffic signals when the accident occurred and that was 60 percent of the reason for the accident, you will not be eligible to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, if it was determined that your negligence was 40 percent responsible for the accident, you may seek damages. It is important to note that your award will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you were determined to have had in causing the accident. This motivates the defense to shift as blame to the victim as possible to avoid some or all liability. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer understands comparative negligence and will shield you from these tactics and pursue the best outcome for your case.
When a car, which is large and traveling fast, hits a pedestrian, who has little or no protection, the pedestrian is likely to be badly injured. The type of vehicle, the speed, and the pedestrian’s age and physical condition all affect the severity of his injuries. However, in a pedestrian accident, injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, and extremities are likely. Here are the most common injuries sustained in Atlanta pedestrian accidents:
- Head trauma. Injuries to the head and brain may be minor, but in many cases, they are catastrophic.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord contains the nerves that transmit messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Therefore, spinal cord injuries are very dangerous and can lead to paralysis or other permanent forms of disability.
- Internal injuries. Internal bleeding, kidney damage, and other internal injuries may go undetected for days but have serious consequences.
- Pelvic injuries. Pedestrians that get hit by a car may suffer from various types of pelvic fractures.
- Bone fractures. These are common injuries in pedestrian accidents and can lead to complications such as infection.
- Wrongful death. In many cases, a pedestrian accident may be fatal.
Seeking Compensation for Pedestrian Accidents in Atlanta
If you sue for damages after a pedestrian accident and the court rules in your favor, you might receive punitive and compensatory damages. Punitive damages are rare and typically only awarded in extreme cases. Georgia law requires a driver to willfully run down a pedestrian with their vehicle to award punitive damages. Drug and alcohol use is one exception that might cause a Georgia court to award punitive damages in a pedestrian accident case.
In most personal injury cases, courts award compensatory damages to an injury victim for losses incurred as a result of the accident and their injury. Here are the most commonly awarded compensatory damages in Atlanta pedestrian accident cases:
- Medical expenses including ambulance, emergency room visit, hospitalization, surgery, X-rays, aftercare and medication
- Future medical costs when a severe injury results in permanent disability, requiring continued medical treatment
- Rehabilitation expenses for physical therapist visits and assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, and artificial limbs
- Lost wages for an injured person’s time away from work due to injury and hospitalization
- Lost future wages when a catastrophic injury prohibits an injured person to return to their job
- Non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, loss in quality of life, loss of consortium, and others which might apply to a specific case
In the event you have lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, contact Brauns Law as soon as possible to discuss the viability of a wrongful death claim. Surviving family members might be able to recover damages depending on their relationship with the deceased.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
The Georgia Governor’s Office for Highway Safety offers the following safety tips for pedestrians:
- Always walk on the sidewalk if possible, facing traffic.
- Cross only at intersections or crosswalks.
- Always look before you cross the street. Even if you have the right-of-way, not every driver is going to obey traffic laws or yield the right-of-way. If a vehicle is obstructing your view as you attempt to cross the street, step out far enough into the street so that you can clearly see if traffic is approaching from any direction.
- Because lack of visibility is a major danger for pedestrians at night, you should always wear bright clothing and reflective stripes when walking at night.
- Extra caution is necessary when drivers are making right turns. Because drivers are permitted in many cases to make right turns on red, you should attempt to make eye contact with turning drivers in order to ensure that they see you and are not going to turn into your path.
- Watch out for vehicles who are backing out of driveways and may not be looking for you or able to see you. If you notice a vehicle backing out in your path, stop and wait for it to finish backing out before you attempt to cross.
- Never play in the street and don’t allow your children to do so either.
Atlanta Pedestrian Accident FAQ
Pedestrian accidents are rising as more Georgians use scooters and then walk to their offices, restaurants, and other destinations. Here are some frequently asked questions our experienced Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyers receive about pedestrian accidents in Georgia.
How common are pedestrian accidents in Atlanta?
Pedestrian accidents are much more common than most people think. More than 110,000 pedestrian accidents occur in the U. S. each year, causing approximately 59,000 injuries to pedestrians and over 4,000 fatalities. A pedestrian accident happens once every eight minutes in the US, and a fatal pedestrian accident occurs every 88 minutes.
More than 75 percent of all pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas like Atlanta. Surprisingly, nearly 90 percent of these accidents occur in normal weather without the rain, fog, or snow that people would be quick to determine as the cause of the majority of pedestrian accidents.
What causes Atlanta pedestrian accidents?
Pedestrian accidents have various causes, including:
- Unmarked crosswalks
- Left-hand turns
- The use of electronics by both pedestrian and driver
- Quiet cars and busy streets
Sadly, one of the top causes of pedestrian accidents is alcohol consumption, with an estimated 48 percent of pedestrian fatalities involving alcohol by either the driver or pedestrian.
What legal rights do Atlanta pedestrians have?
Because pedestrians are vulnerable, there are some specific rights granted to all pedestrians in Georgia. The law mandates that all drivers diligently watch for pedestrians and exercise due care to avoid hitting them, even if they are on the road outside of a crosswalk. Drivers must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, and pedestrians always have the right-of-way while on sidewalks.
The following Georgia laws apply to pedestrian rights:
- OCGA § 40-6-91 – Pedestrians have the right-of-way at Georgia crosswalks.
- OCGA § 40-6-92 – Pedestrians entering the roadway outside of a crosswalk must yield to vehicles “unless he has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.”
- OCGA § 40-6-22 – Pedestrians with the “WALK” sign have the right-of-way.
- OCGA § 40-6-144 – Vehicles emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk.
- OCGA § 40-6-203 – Drivers must not park their vehicles on sidewalks or crosswalks.
Do Atlanta pedestrians have to cross the street at an intersection or use a crosswalk?
Pedestrians can lawfully cross the street outside a crosswalk as long as they yield to traffic. If you are crossing the street and not using a crosswalk, you must yield the right of way to cars on the street. According to OCGA § 40-6-92(a), the only exception is unless you already entered the street under safe conditions.
However, you can’t cross anywhere on a street with traffic lights at the intersection on both sides next to where you want to cross. If a vehicle strikes you while outside the crosswalk, you still might collect damages if the driver saw you and attempted to pass you or if they failed to take proper safety precautions.
Do Atlanta drivers have to completely stop when pedestrians are in the crosswalk?
According to Georgia laws, the driver must come to a complete stop if:
- A pedestrian is walking on the half of the crosswalk upon which the car is traveling (the driver’s side of the road).
- A pedestrian is within one lane of the half of the roadway where the car is traveling or turning.
What are the responsibilities of Atlanta drivers to keep pedestrians safe?
Georgia drivers are required to take many actions to protect other drivers and pedestrians. These include:
- Insurance requirements – The law requires both motor vehicle and motorcycle owners and operators to maintain motor vehicle liability insurance coverage. The driver must carry proof of insurance with them at all times.
- Traffic light conduct – Drivers must yield the right of way to any pedestrians in a crosswalk. Suppose a pedestrian has entered the crosswalk on the other half of the street but is near the driver’s half of the street. In that case, the driver must remain stopped until the pedestrian has completely crossed the road. Drivers can legally go through an intersection on a yellow arrow. In the state of Georgia, drivers can lawfully turn right at a red light, but they must come to a complete stop first. However, if posted signage prohibits a right turn on red, they must obey the sign. Even still, drivers must always yield to pedestrians who are in a crosswalk.
- Conduct when pedestrians are in or near a crosswalk – Drivers must stop their vehicle and remain stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the crosswalk. If the pedestrian is coming from the opposite side of the road, drivers likewise must stop their car and stay stopped while the pedestrian crosses the road. Drivers who are nearing from behind a stopped vehicle waiting for a pedestrian to cross aren’t permitted to pass the stopped vehicle. Instead, they must also come to a complete stop. Additionally, drivers are legally required to yield the right of way to blind pedestrians who have a guide dog or a cane.
- Reasonable due care – Drivers must “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian” at all times. Drivers should use their horns to provide auditory warnings whenever necessary. Finally, when observing children, obviously drunk, confused, or incapacitated, drivers are expected to use the appropriate and proper precautions for the given situation.
What is the definition of a “pedestrian accident?”
A pedestrian accident happens when a motor vehicle or even a bicycle hits someone on foot. Pedestrians can suffer severe injuries and even death because of the trauma caused by these accidents. Pedestrian accidents can quickly become quite complex. It’s crucial to get in touch with a well-versed Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer quickly to help prove fault, as well as liability for the accident.
Do I still have legal rights if I wasn’t crossing at a crosswalk even though a car hit and injured me?
You might if the other driver was negligent. If you yielded to traffic and the driver who hit you was speeding or texting and should have seen you, then you can claim damages. It’s best to speak to one of our knowledgeable Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyers to determine exactly what legal rights apply to your specific circumstances.
I believe the Atlanta driver who hit me was texting when the accident occurred, but they said I ran out into the street. Can I prove they were texting and driving when they hit me?
Sometimes an investigation into an accident reveals witnesses who observed the driver texting right before they hit you. Your Atlanta pedestrian accident attorney can subpoena the driver’s phone records and compare the time the driver hit you with the time a text was received or sent. If either or both of the eyewitnesses or phone records can prove the driver was texting at the time of your accident, the driver was negligent under the law, making it easier for you to collect damages you deserve for your injuries.
Who is at-fault for an Atlanta pedestrian accident?
Pedestrian accident cases frequently arise from the legal concept of negligence, meaning one party wasn’t being as cautious as they reasonably should have been. Whether the driver who hit a pedestrian was negligent will usually depend on several factors.
Those factors can include:
- The speed of the car
- Whether the driver was texting or distracted
- The presence of a crosswalk
- Lighting conditions
- Time of day
- If there were any nearby traffic lights, signals, or signs
- Who had the right-of-way
A seasoned Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer will use several pieces of evidence to find out which party was at fault. Most of these investigations begin with the police report. This report should detail the responding officer’s observations from the scene of the accident. It will also provide statements from any witnesses who were available to speak with the officer.
In urban regions like Atlanta, surveillance cameras from nearby businesses or intersections might also reveal what happened. However, a pedestrian accident attorney must move quickly to find them since most companies will record over their surveillance footage in only a few days. Eyewitnesses are also critical. Numerous witnesses may know more than they initially told the responding officer. They may have only provided the officer with their contact information before they left the scene of the accident. A reputable pedestrian accident attorney will work to find them.
It’s usually very clear who was at fault if the driver who hit you was drinking and driving or committed a hit-and-run (left the scene without stopping or providing their information). Drinking and driving is negligence. The act of a hit-and-run shows that the driver ran away from the scene, which generally means that they were at fault for the accident and didn’t care about what happened to the pedestrian in the accident.
What types of injuries are common in Atlanta pedestrian accidents?
Catastrophic injuries or death are too often the results of pedestrian accidents in Atlanta. Typically, pedestrian accidents are much more severe than a simple, painful bump or bruise. More often than not, they lead to substantial medical expenses, significant time spent in rehabilitative therapy, and even lifelong nursing care.
Keep in mind that when a car accident occurs, seatbelts, airbags, and other protective and safety mechanisms provide vehicle occupants with protection. However, pedestrians have little to no protection if a vehicle hits them.
The unprotected human body is the most vulnerable in an accident, causing pedestrians to sustain many bodily injuries, including:
- Internal organ damage
- Severe bleeding
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Head and neck injuries
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
These injuries can occur not only from the initial collision but also from the consequences of an accident. You might be surprised to learn that more than half of pedestrian accident injuries happen after the initial contact with the vehicle, for instance, when the pedestrian makes contact with the ground or other objects in the area.
What damages are available in Atlanta pedestrian accidents?
Damages are the financial representation of the losses a person suffers. Injured pedestrians file insurance claims to seek compensation for these losses.
Pedestrian accidents can cause multiple and severe damages for victims. Their damages include both economic or special and non-economic and general.
General damages for pedestrians injured in an accident might include:
- Medical expenses
- Medical equipment
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Lost wages
- Property damage for shoes, clothing, jewelry, or other items with them at the time of the accident
Injured pedestrians might have the following non-economic damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- The loss of a limb or bodily function
Pedestrian accident victims can receive compensation for their damages through a negotiated settlement with the applicable insurance company. If they cannot reach a satisfactory settlement with the insurance company, they can choose to litigate the case with a well-versed Atlanta pedestrian accident attorney.
What should you do if you suffer injuries in an Atlanta pedestrian accident?
The steps you take or don’t take can impact the viability and value of your case. First, be sure you seek any necessary medical care. Prompt and adequate medical attention is vital for your health and well-being, as well as your legal rights. Document your injuries as soon as possible. Preserve or take pictures of any evidence that you can, such as the accident scene, bloody clothing, broken shoes, and your injuries. If paramedics arrive at the scene and suggest that you take an ambulance to the hospital, heed their advice.
Then, contact an Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. The sooner you contact one, the sooner they can go to work determining fault in your accident and getting you the compensation you deserve. Call Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm today to learn more about how we can help and schedule your free injury case evaluation.
How Can an Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Attorney Help Me?
All states have a time limit to file a personal injury case. This is called the statute of limitations. If you have been injured as a pedestrian, it is important to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Our experienced, dedicated attorneys can review your case, discuss your legal options, and work zealously to obtain the compensation you deserve. For more information or a free consultation, call (404) 418-8244 or contact us at Brauns Law online today.