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Pedestrian Highway Injuries and Accidents

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What Are Pedestrian Accidents?

Every year, there are an estimated 70,000 pedestrians injured in crashes. Over 5,000 people on foot are killed in the U.S. annually in traffic crashes. Moreover, nearly 130,000 are treated for non-fatal crash related injuries. Almost half of all crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths are caused by drivers who are alcohol impaired. The elderly and children are most at risk for pedestrian deaths, with those age 65 and older accounting for 19% of passerby deaths and 13% of passerby injuries, and one in every five children under the age of 15 that were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

Who is a "Pedestrian" Within Traffic Rules and Regulations?

A pedestrian is considered "any person afoot." Some states extend the definition of “pedestrian” to a person who uses roller skates, a skateboard, or scooter.
How Do Most Pedestrian Accidents Occur?

As discussed above, many on-foot accidents are caused by drivers who are alcohol impaired. Still, many occur at night when there is reduced visibility, or if the driver is distracted (changing the radio station, texting, making a phone call, putting on makeup, etc.).

What Are Pedestrian “Dart-out” Cases?

Passerby “Dart-out” crashes are those where the passerby suddenly runs out into the street, usually from an unseen area like a driveway or a bush.  This is common for cases involving injuries to children getting off of a school bus. In those cases, a child may suddenly rut out onto the street immediately after getting out of the bus. The bus restricts the view of drivers from behind, and children run out to cross the street. These injuries are especially common if the bus does not flash its “stop” sign to warn vehicles behind it that children are disembarking.

Pedestrian Duties Crossing Streets

Unless stated in statutes, ordinances or printed road signs, a person on foot may cross either directly or diagonally at any point in the road. Crossing at points not designated (crossing in the middle of the street or outside a crosswalk), or against a traffic light, is called “jaywalking.” A passerby may be found at least partially at fault for an accident involving a vehicle if jaywalking.  Note that many laws have restricted crossing to crosswalks and only at right angles.

Walking Along Highways

States vary on their rules regarding walking along highways. For example, New York only allows pedestrians to walk along a highway on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic so the person on foot can see oncoming traffic. In Georgia, a person on foot can stand or walk along a highway shoulder “as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.”

Can I Recover Damages for a Pedestrian Accident if I was Injured on the Highway? 

If you were legally walking along a highway and were injured, you may be able to recover damages.  Most likely you will be filing a claim for negligence.  A negligence claim requires you to prove that the driver breached her duty of care to you, and that the breach actually caused your injuries.

One of the main defenses against pedestrian accidents on the highway is a legal theory known as contributory negligence. Contributory negligence occurs when the person on foot’s negligence contributed to their own harm, and ultimately, their resulting injuries. If they are found to be contributorily negligent, it may reduce their recovery, or prevent it altogether.  Because there are specific rules regarding pedestrians on highways, contributory negligence is a valid defense that can substantially reduce or eliminate plaintiff’s damages reward.

How to Prove a Pedestrian Accident

If you are a person on foot that was injured on the highway, first you want to obtain the driver’s information – driver’s license, contact information, insurance information, etc. Second, keep all documents relating to the accident, including medical records discussing your injuries and medical bills, police reports, and witness statements. Finally, try to obtain the information of any witnesses, as they can corroborate your story regarding the order of events. All these documents can be used as evidence to support your claim.  

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you want to recover for your personal injuries sustained, consider hiring a skilled, knowledgeable personal injury attorney. An attorney can help ensure your interests are well represented and can help you through all stages of litigation.

Photo of page author Erin Chan Adams

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-19-2018 02:49 AM PDT

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