You cross the street every day—how hard can it really be? When you’re on foot, your vulnerability as a pedestrian probably isn’t foremost on your mind. After all, you have errands to run and meetings to attend, and you’ve likely walked the same routes safely numerous times.
Pedestrian accidents, however, can be the most horrific of all traffic-related accidents—and as a pedestrian, you are vulnerable to the traffic all around you. When you drive, you’re protected by the steel frame of your vehicle, but when you head out on foot, there is nothing to protect you from negligent drivers. For this reason, pedestrian collision injuries can be particularly devastating.
If you or someone you care about was injured in a pedestrian accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need the help of an experienced Duluth pedestrian accident lawyer. At Brauns Law, PC, we know how traumatic pedestrian accidents can be—and we’re here to help.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center shares some significant statistics related to pedestrian accidents:
- In 2015, more than 5,000 pedestrians died in pedestrian/motor vehicle accidents. This is the largest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1996.
- While total traffic fatalities went down by nearly 18 percent between 2006 and 2015, pedestrian fatalities went up by 12 percent.
- In 2015, about 70,000 pedestrians were injured in crashes compared to 2006, when about 61,000 pedestrians were injured in crashes. This represents nearly a 15 percent increase in injury rates during a ten-year period.
Pedestrian Accidents and Georgia Law
In Georgia, drivers must stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in marked crosswalks. This means that casually yielding to pedestrians in marked crosswalks isn’t good enough. Georgia law also mandates several other driver restrictions—as well as pedestrian responsibilities—related to pedestrian safety:
- It’s illegal for drivers to squeeze by, cut off, or drive around a pedestrian in a crosswalk, even when there’s room. Remember, drivers must stop and stay stopped.
- When a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to pass, it’s illegal for any other driver approaching from behind to overtake and pass that stopped vehicle.
- It’s unlawful for pedestrians to leave a curb or place of safety and to run or walk into a vehicle’s path when it’s impractical for the vehicle to yield.
- When pedestrians cross a road anywhere other than at a crosswalk, they must yield the right of way to traffic on the road (unless they originally entered the road under safe conditions).
- When a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing is available, pedestrians must yield the right of way to traffic if they choose not to use these pedestrian passageways.
In other words, both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to keep the streets free from dangerous pedestrian accidents.
Drivers, Pedestrian Injuries, and Liability
When a driver injures a pedestrian in a car crash, that driver may be liable for the injuries caused to the pedestrian. Most pedestrian accident claims involve driver negligence, which means that the driver failed to fulfill a duty of safe driving that was owed to the pedestrian when the pedestrian was injured. To prevail on a claim of driver negligence, you must demonstrate three important elements were present:
- The driver owed you a duty of safe driving (if you were crossing at a marked crosswalk, for example).
- The driver breached that duty of safe driving (if, for instance, the driver failed to stop at that marked crosswalk).
- The driver’s breach of duty caused your injuries and losses (if you were injured when the car didn’t stop at the marked crosswalk).
In Georgia, drivers owe others a duty to use reasonable care while driving, and this includes pedestrians. Reasonable driving means that drivers must safely adhere to the regular rules of the road, which mandate that drivers:
- Not drive while distracted (smartphones are the number one distraction)
- Not drive while impaired
- Yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Obey traffic signal and signs
- Adjust driving to accommodate for the low visibility of night driving
- Adjust driving to accommodate for the poor driving conditions caused by rain, sleet, snow, ice, hail, fog, and high winds
Distracted drivers represent such a danger to pedestrians that it’s worth taking a closer look. In fact, the issue of distracted driving has become so prominent that the Department of Transportation has a website devoted to the issue. As smartphones become more integrated into our lives, some drivers have begun to mistakenly believe that they can safely handle both a car and a phone at the same time. These drivers, however, are unaware of just how dangerous distracted driving is. Safely operating a motor vehicle demands that drivers make snap decisions within incredibly short reaction times—but distracted drivers cannot safely accomplish this task, and pedestrians can pay the price.
A Pedestrian’s Duty
As the pedestrian, you share the responsibility of staying safe when you cross streets and roads. Take several precautions to help protect yourself:
- Stay alert when you walk and follow all pedestrian signs and signals.
- Don’t ever dart in front of moving vehicles or enter traffic inappropriately.
- Use marked crosswalks (or other pedestrian-designated walkways) whenever possible.
- Wear reflective clothing when you must walk near traffic at night.
Pedestrian accidents are dangerous accidents. Do everything within your power to stay safe out there. If you are injured in a pedestrian collision, however, do not delay in discussing your rights with a skilled personal injury attorney.
Duluth Pedestrian Accident FAQ
Even when pedestrians are being careful and walking where they are supposed to walk, serious accidents can occur. Pedestrian accidents very often result from motor vehicle driver negligence and carelessness while on the roadway.
When a car or truck collides with a pedestrian, even at a low rate of speed, the resulting injuries can be devastating and sometimes even deadly. The injuries are so severe because, unlike motor vehicle drivers and passengers, pedestrians do not have a thick steel shell surrounding them during an accident.
When a motor vehicle collides with them, they can fall to the ground or even run over by the vehicle. A collision with a pedestrian may also throw the pedestrian onto the striking vehicle’s hood with a significant amount of force, resulting in severe and sometimes deadly injuries.
If you or a person you love sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident, the Duluth pedestrian accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are here to help. Our legal team will do a thorough job investigating the circumstances behind your accident and can assist you with making a legal claim against the at-fault driver. We can also help you with pursuing a monetary settlement in your case, and if necessary, litigating your case through the state court system to a conclusion.
Where do Duluth pedestrian accidents occur?
Pedestrian accidents in Duluth can happen almost everywhere, from the Downtown Duluth Open Container Zone to the Reveal entertainment district. For obvious reasons, these accidents tend to occur where people are often present, including in crosswalks, parking lots, and parking garages. Sometimes, pedestrian accidents even happen on an area of sidewalk near a main road. After all, a distracted motor vehicle driver may negligently cause their vehicle to jump a curb onto the sidewalk, striking a pedestrian and injuring them in the process.
If you or a person you love received injuries in a serious pedestrian accident that took place in one of these locations, the injured Duluth pedestrian accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can determine if you have a valid legal claim. If so, our team can work on pursuing the financial compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Why do Duluth pedestrian accidents occur?
One of the most common reasons why pedestrian accidents occur is negligent, reckless, and careless driving. When motor vehicle drivers do not operate their vehicles safely and carefully, they may miss a pedestrian who is standing or walking nearby, striking them and causing the pedestrian to sustain a severe injury. However, driver negligence is not the only cause of pedestrian accidents that occur in and around Duluth.
Some common causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Failing to follow traffic rules – The primary purpose of traffic rules and laws is to prevent serious accidents—including pedestrian accidents—from occurring in the first place. When drivers follow these rules, they decrease their chances of bringing about a serious accident. However, when a driver runs a red light, fails to use their turn signal, or backs out of a parking space without using their rearview and side-view mirrors, they increase their chance of striking a pedestrian at a traffic intersection, parking lot, parking garage, or other location with pedestrians present. When drivers exceed the speed limits in these areas, and a collision with a pedestrian occurs, the pedestrian is very likely to die or receive great bodily harm.
- Distracted motor vehicle operation – There are many types of devices (and sometimes people) that may distract individuals when they operate motor vehicles. Cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices are sources of distraction for drivers. An individual cannot possibly safely operate their vehicle when they are sending text or email messages while behind the wheel. When a driver takes their eyes off the road for just a second or two, that can be enough time for a collision with a pedestrian to take place.
- Intoxicated driving – Intoxicated motor vehicle operation can also lead to collisions with pedestrians. In Georgia, the legal limit for safe motor vehicle operation is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. This limit is lower for commercial vehicle operators, and there is a near-zero tolerance (0.02 percent BAC) for minor drivers (drivers who are under 21 years of age). Alcohol and drugs impact a driver’s depth perception and reaction time. Consequently, a driver who is under the influence may not see a pedestrian in time to avoid them, resulting in a serious impact and injuries.
- Sidewalk and roadway defects – In some cases, pedestrian accidents are not the fault of poor drivers. Instead, these accidents occur because of defects to the roadway, sidewalk, or parking garage floor. Those defects can include concrete spalling, potholes, and other serious flaws to the surface where the pedestrian is walking. Property owners are responsible for taking ordinary and reasonable measures to maintain their property. If there are known hazards, the owners must either correct the dangers or provide sufficient warnings. When property owners and maintainers fail to do so, the law holds them responsible when pedestrians injure themselves on the property.
If you or someone you love has sustained an injury in a pedestrian accident that occurred under one of these circumstances, the knowledgeable Duluth pedestrian accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with filing a claim or lawsuit against the person (or in some cases, the legal entity) that was responsible for your accident. We can then assist you with pursuing the monetary compensation that you need from the party or parties at fault.
Who may have caused my Duluth pedestrian accident?
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your pedestrian accident, there are one or more individuals who may be at fault. Motor vehicle drivers owe a duty to other drivers (as well as to pedestrians) to operate their vehicles reasonably—and in a safe, prudent, and careful manner at all times.
When drivers do not safely operate their vehicles and negligently cause their vehicles to collide with a pedestrian, they can be responsible for any injuries that result in the pedestrian. Therefore, in the case of negligent, distracted, or intoxicated motor vehicle driving, you have a claim against the at-fault driver.
However, negligent motor vehicle operators are not the only ones who can be held responsible for a pedestrian accident. If a driver is operating a vehicle for the benefit of their employer (such as making a delivery), and the driver’s negligence causes their vehicle to collide with a pedestrian, then the driver’s employer may also be named as a defendant in any claim or lawsuit filed for damages under an agency theory of liability.
Employers can also be sued for negligent entrustment, hiring, or supervision if they hire or retain problem drivers who have been involved in pedestrian accidents before.
In the case of pedestrian accidents that occur because of premises defects or inadequate maintenance, the injured pedestrian may bring a claim or file a lawsuit against the property owner or the entity that is responsible for maintaining the property.
In the cases of defective sidewalks and other outdoor areas, the responsible party is sometimes a municipality, like a city, county, or township. However, when it comes to pursuing legal action against a local government entity, there are sometimes notice provisions that apply.
An experienced Duluth pedestrian accident attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf against all parties who bear responsibility for your accident and injuries. We can then pursue monetary compensation from those responsible parties on your behalf.
How do I file a claim for monetary compensation following a Duluth pedestrian accident?
Making a claim for monetary compensation following a Duluth pedestrian accident typically begins by submitting a demand package to the at-fault person or entity’s insurance company.
The demand package will include relevant documentation, including:
- Photographs of the scene and of the injuries you sustained due to the accident
- Copies of all of the injured pedestrian’s treating medical records and bills, including treatment notes, procedure notes, and physical therapy records
- A copy of any police report or investigative report prepared after the pedestrian accident took place
- Copies of an impact statement, prepared by the injured pedestrian, which explains the impact that the accident and subsequent injuries have had on their life
- Lost wage documentation prepared by the accident victim’s employer, which shows the amount of time that the accident victim missed from their job to recover from the injuries sustained in the pedestrian accident
Settlement demand packages also typically include a cover letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement, up to the policy limits of coverage.
Once your attorney submits the settlement demand, the insurance company will review it, along with all of the supporting documentation. If the insurance company accepts the claim, the adjuster is required to make a good faith effort to try and settle the case within the applicable policy limits.
Frequently, this will take several rounds of negotiations, since most insurance companies will do everything possible to settle claims for as little money as possible. Essentially, the less the insurance company pays out to settle a pedestrian accident case, the more money it has available to keep in house and possibly invest on behalf of its shareholders.
An experienced Duluth pedestrian accident lawyer at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and work to pursue a favorable settlement for you. If the insurance company does not offer you fair compensation to settle your pedestrian accident case, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf against the at-fault individual’s insurance company.
Just because your attorney files a lawsuit, however, does not mean that your case will have its day in court. In fact, many personal injury cases, including those that involve pedestrian accidents, are settled long before the date of trial. Your attorney can help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer in your case or file a complaint in the court system and pursue litigation.
What types of monetary compensation can I recover in my Duluth pedestrian accident case?
In personal injury cases, including pedestrian accident cases, the accident victim has the burden of proof. Specifically, they must show that the at-fault individual driver or other responsible person or entity acted unreasonably, such as by engaging in distracted or reckless driving.
Furthermore, the accident victim must demonstrate that this negligence resulted in the pedestrian accident, that they sustained physical injuries (including soft tissue injuries, bone fractures, or traumatic head injuries, for example), and that the injuries were inflicted by the accident. In cases of preexisting injuries, expert medical testimony may be necessary to demonstrate that the accident exacerbated the pedestrian’s prior injury and worsened it.
In cases where the pedestrian accident victim meets their burden, the accident victim may pursue compensation for:
- Costs of all related medical treatment, physical therapy, and procedures
- Compensation for all lost earnings resulting from an inability to work following the accident
- Compensation for all of the pain, suffering, and inconvenience related to the pedestrian accident
- Damages for loss of earning capacity due to injuries sustained in the accident
- Costs of all anticipated future medical procedures and treatment (expert testimony needed)
- Compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish related to the accident
- Compensation for lack of family support and spousal companionship related to injuries sustained in the accident
The experienced pedestrian accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with pursuing and recovering the monetary compensation that you need as a result of the pedestrian accident injuries that you sustained. Our attorneys will work to emphasize the effect the accident has had on your life, as well as the reasons you are entitled to financial compensation.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Pedestrian Accident, Seek Legal Counsel from Brauns Law, PC
If you or someone you care about has been injured in a Duluth, Georgia, pedestrian accident, you need experienced legal counsel. These accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially overwhelming, and the legal process is complicated. Your right to compensation, however, is too important not to fight for.
The experienced accident lawyers at Brauns Law, PC are here to help you recover just compensation, and we have the skill and determination to fight for your claim’s most favorable resolution. If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (404) 348-0889 for a free consultation today.