Many people in California enjoy walking for recreation, health, and simply as an environmentally friendly way to get where they want to go. While walking is healthy, pedestrians are much likelier to be catastrophically injured or killed in accidents with motor vehicles. Unfortunately, motorists sometimes fail to stop at crosswalks or unmarked intersections for pedestrians who are crossing the streets. They might also fail to notice children and pedestrians on the sidewalks who might step out into the streets. Cities may not have good walking facilities to keep pedestrians separated from traffic, leading to an increased risk of pedestrian accidents. If you have suffered serious injuries in a pedestrian accident or have lost your loved one, talk to an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer Palo Alto at the San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys. We believe that people who have suffered harm because of the negligence of others deserve to receive compensation for all of their losses.
Pedestrian accident statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities have been increasing, reaching the highest number of deaths in 2018 since 1990. During that year, 6,238 pedestrians were killed in accidents in the U.S. This number translates as one pedestrian dying in an accident every 88 minutes.
The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that the pedestrian accident fatality rate in the state is 30 times higher than the national average. From 2006 to 2016, more than 14,000 pedestrians in California were injured, and 8,000 were killed.
Causes of pedestrian accidents
Pedestrian accidents can be caused by various types of driver negligence, including the following:
- Distracted driving
- Inattentive driving
- Inadequate surveillance
- Drowsy driving
- Failing to obey traffic control devices
- Drunk or drugged driving
Pedestrians can also contribute to accidents by doing the following:
- Walking with headphones on or while using a mobile device
- Failing to check for oncoming traffic at intersections before crossing
- Crossing at midpoints between intersections
- Walking at night with dark clothing
- Walking after drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Crossing streets against traffic signals
Drivers and pedestrians must take care to help to prevent pedestrian accidents by obeying traffic laws and exercising reasonable caution.
Negligence in pedestrian accidents
Most pedestrian accident claims are based on theories of negligence. Plaintiffs who file negligence claims must be able to prove all of the negligence elements by a preponderance of the evidence, including the following:
Drivers owe a duty to operate their vehicles with the same degree of care as other reasonable motorists. This duty includes obeying traffic laws, following the speed limits, stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks and unmarked intersections, obeying traffic control devices, avoiding distracting activities while driving, and others. When a driver violates the duty of care and directly or proximately causes a pedestrian to be injured in an accident, the driver may be liable to pay damages to the victim. Plaintiffs must be able to prove damages, which means that they must demonstrate that they have suffered economic or noneconomic losses because of their injuries in their accidents.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer Palo Alto should understand the types of evidence that might be needed to prove each of the elements of negligence. He or she might thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances leading up to the accident to help his or her client to build a stronger case. An attorney might work with accident reconstruction experts, medical experts, economic experts, and investigators to develop a thorough understanding of what happened and the extent of the victim’s losses and injuries. Working with experts can help to bolster a claim and potentially encourage an insurance company to settle for a reasonable amount instead of taking a chance on the outcome of a jury trial.
Tactics used by insurance companies
Insurance companies commonly try to dispute the liability of their insureds and blame pedestrians for their accidents. They might engage in several tactics to try to dispute liability or to reduce the amounts that they might have to pay. After your accident, an insurance adjuster will contact you. While this person might seem compassionate and caring, you should recognize that his or her loyalties lie with the insurance company that employs him or her instead of with you.
Do not agree to give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement about your accident. Recorded statements are used to obtain statements from the victims to twist them so that they can be used against the victims in their claims. Insurance companies might also send early settlement offers that are far lower than the value of the claims. Finally, insurance companies might tell the injured victims that they need them to sign medical authorizations to investigate their injuries.
If you sign an early settlement offer, you will be precluded from asking for more money when you find out that the settlement was inadequate. If you sign a medical authorization, the insurance company will use it to dig through your medical records to try to blame your injuries on a different incident. When you are approached by the insurance company, tell the representative that you want to talk to an attorney before you will provide any statements or sign any documents.
Get help from the San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys
The San Jose Personal Injury Attorneys represent pedestrian accident victims in Palo Alto and throughout the surrounding region. If you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident that was the fault of a motorist, contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 408.217.1778.