Sharing the road is important. There are all sorts of vehicles grabbing a piece of it. But these drivers have an obligation to those most at risk: pedestrians. It is vital to keep the safety of those outside of vehicles in mind because if an accident occurs, the consequences for them will be the most dire. In fact, according to the NHTSA, There are around 75,000 pedestrian accidents in the United States each year resulting in over 4,000 deaths. In short, a pedestrian is killed every other hour, and pedestrian injuries occur every seven minutes.
In accidents like this, injuries are suffered from the vehicle striking the pedestrian. But they are also suffered at the secondary point of impact – that is, when the pedestrian hits the ground or another object as a result of the collision. Here are injuries seen from pedestrians being hit by cars:
- Broken bones
- Brain injuries – concussions, swelling, hemorrhaging, blood clots
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Fractures and breaks to the lower body where impact occurred – tibia, femur, pelvis, etc.
Pedestrian Accidents Usually Caused by Driver Error
Most pedestrian accidents are caused by the driver of the vehicle, leaving little room for the pedestrian to avoid the incident. Often, there can be more than one factor contributing to a pedestrian-vehicle accident. Some of the more common driver errors causing pedestrian injury include the following:
- Failing to Make A Full Stop at Intersections
- Driving Under the Influence and Distracted Driving
- Illegal U-Turns
- Turning through crosswalk without looking
- Running a red light
- Poor visibility due to weather conditions or obstacles such as parked cars
Inexperienced or new drivers are responsible for more accidents than any other age group. Two-thirds of all serious crashes involving teenagers are caused by one of three critical errors: failure to appropriately scan for hazards, driving too fast for road conditions, and distracted driving.
What to do if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident?
- Call the police
- DO NOT leave the scene before the police arrive
- Get witness information
- Do not make any statements
Get anyone who is injured somewhere safe from other traffic. Do not administer medical treatment unless they need emergency CPR. Get help – police and, if needed, an ambulance. Call your insurance company and inform them of the accident. If you may face criminal charges, get a criminal attorney ASAP. Be honest. Do not lie to the police because it will hurt you down the road.
Exchange contact information, but do not admit fault under any circumstance. Do not speak to their insurance company. Your insurance company will handle these communications.
Who is at fault?
The person who did not act with a reasonable standard of care is considered negligent. Both parties, the driver and pedestrian, can be considered negligent. For instance, the driver could be speeding while the pedestrian was jaywalking. The police report will determine who is at fault, though this may be disputed by the insurance companies.
States have different rules regarding “contributory negligence”, but in Michigan this is covered under no fault laws. As such, determining who was at fault is less of a concern for everything is covered under personal injury protection (PIP) and the injured pedestrian does not need to determine fault to collect PIP damages.
How do I prove negligence?
Negligence is the failure to act in a way that a reasonable person would be expected to. For instance, if a reasonable person would have stopped, seeing that there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk, one who fails to stop and subsequently hits a pedestrian would be considered negligent. Courts look at numerous aspects when determining negligence. A few that can help prove that a driver was negligent are:
- Distracted driving – texting, eating, applying makeup, playing with radio, etc.
- Failure to yield
- Disobeying or ignoring traffic signals
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving in a way not conducive to weather conditions
Drivers have a higher duty of care towards children, as they are the demographic most at risk of being struck by a vehicle. Drivers must be wary in areas with high concentrations of children, such as schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods.
On the flip side, pedestrians can be considered negligent as well. It can be ruled that they contributed to their injuries and are not entitled to a full settlement. Pedestrian negligence can arise from:
- Ignoring crosswalk signals
- Failing to use crosswalks – jaywalking
- Appearing in front of a vehicle, not giving the vehicle time to stop
- Disrupting the flow of traffic
- Not using the sidewalk
- Walking while intoxicated
Drivers are unlikely to be charged with anything if the pedestrian was intoxicated.
Pedestrians and Michigan No-Fault Law
In Michigan, pedestrians are entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, also known as first-party benefits, under the Michigan No-Fault Law. Pedestrians involved in accidents with motorcycles are an exception to this rule, as motorcycles are not considered “motor vehicles” under the law.
PIP benefits cover reasonably necessary medical expenses related to the accident, up to three years of lost wages, replacement services (to cover household chores or childcare the victim can no longer complete), attendant care such as in-home nursing, medical mileage, out-of-pocket costs and vehicle and/or home modifications.
To determine whose no-fault insurance will cover a pedestrian’s injuries, the No-Fault Law outlines “priority” rules. These rules govern which car insurance company is obligated to pay no-fault benefits. . In Michigan car accident cases involving a pedestrian, there are five levels of the order of priority and they are listed below. If the individual listed does not have a no-fault insurance policy, then the legal responsibility moves to the insurer of the next person on the list.
- No-Fault insurer of the pedestrian victim
- No-Fault insurer of the a resident relative (spouse, parent, sibling)
- No-Fault insurer of the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident
- No-Fault insurer of the operator of the motor vehicle involved in the accident
- Michigan Assigned Claims Facility
Sources of evidence
- Medical records – Make sure you have all information from any treatment you received. This creates an unbreakable link between the accident and the injuries sustained
- Medical bills – These will back up your medical records and are used in conjunction with other factors to determine your settlement.
- Police report – This can be great evidence for you. It should include diagrams and the officer’s impression of who caused the accident. It lists any tickets that were doled out, evidence that courts find very compelling. The police report will also include witness information.
- Pictures – Make sure you document everything with pictures. It will help corroborate your story.
- Witnesses – Those who saw the accident from a different vantage point can provide important evidence in your favor.
- Other party statements- If the other party admits fault or makes a statement like “I didn’t see you” shortly after the crash, this can be used against them. Make sure you document it.
- Clothes – This is often overlooked. Your clothes may have paint or marks on them that can help your case, especially if you are seriously injured.
- Motor vehicle handbook – This lists state laws that can be pointed out to prove the driver was in violation. It can be found online.
What compensation am I entitled to?
If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you have a case for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. If you have lost a loved one you are also entitled to wrongful death which, in addition to everything already listed, covers funeral and burial expenses and loss of consortium.
- Medical bills – includes hospital bills and any ongoing treatment
- Lost Income – will the injured party have to miss work? If they are severely injured or killed, potential future earnings will have to be calculated
- Pain and suffering (emotional trauma)
- Loss of enjoyment of life – are there any hobbies the injured pedestrian can no longer participate in, such as golf, swimming, or picking up their grandkids?
Avoiding pedestrian accidents
Of course, the best way to handle a pedestrian accident is by avoiding it in the first place! Defensive driving means that you are aware of your surroundings at all times, both other vehicles and any pedestrians who may enter into your realm of responsibility. Be extra cautious in school zones and other places with children as they tend to dart. Obey speed limits and be careful making turns in cities, as there is usually a much higher number of pedestrians and crosswalks. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable and it is your duty as a driver to be cognizant and responsible.
Pedestrians can do their part, too. In many instances, there is not much a pedestrian can do to protect himself or herself from a motor vehicle crash. However, there are steps you can take to safely walk while in the presence of moving cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and recommends the following safety steps/precautions:
- Walk on a sidewalk if available, and if not, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic.
- Avoid using distractors like phones or radios.
- Never assume a driver sees you or is going to obey traffic laws. Be vigilant and alert about your surroundings.
- Cross at crosswalks or other places on the road where drivers expect to see pedestrians.
- Avoid darting out across a road or crossing from between two vehicles.
- Stay off of freeways, restricted-access highways and other pedestrian-prohibited roadways.
- Avoid dark clothing, especially if traveling at night. Bright, especially fluorescent, clothing will ensure you visibility in the day.
- Reflective clothing and/or carrying a flashlight is highly encouraged at night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Other pedestrian accidents
Not all pedestrian accidents involve vehicles. Premises liability imposes a standard of safety that property owners must uphold. If the owner knew about a dangerous condition and failed to rectify it, they can be liable for any incidents that may then occur. A common example would be a slip and fall case. To learn more about these and other types of pedestrian accidents, visit our personal injury page.
Contact Us Now About Your Pedestrian Accident
Our attorneys at The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg are Michigan pedestrian accident experts, including wrongful death cases. We have represented pedestrian accident victims for over 40 years. If you have been injured as a pedestrian in a car crash, we will fight to ensure you receive the compensation and benefits you deserve under the law.
Working with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve can be frustrating and confusing. We can help. Please call The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg and speak to our pedestrian accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your pedestrian accident case.