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.
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.
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, Georgia, pedestrian accident lawyer. At Brauns Law, PC, we know how traumatic pedestrian accidents can be—and we’re here to help.
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.
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.