If February 2019, USA Today reported that pedestrian deaths totaled just under 6,000 in 2017 for the second straight year. USA Today also reported that pedestrian deaths hit a 28-year high in 2018, according to new estimates that suggest the nation’s SUV boom is becoming increasingly deadly.
The Governors Highway Safety Association indicated the number of pedestrian deaths involving SUVs increased by 50% from 2013 through 2017, while the number of pedestrian deaths caused by passenger cars increased by 30% over that same period. That reflects booming sales of SUVs and the fact that pedestrians are much less likely to survive the impact of an SUV because they are large and heavier than smaller passenger vehicles.
But drivers of SUVs, cars, and motorcycles are not the only ones to blame for the skyrocketing number of pedestrian deaths; those walking on U.S. roadways are “dangerously distracted,” according to the GHSA findings.
Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about 63% of drivers are using their cell phones while driving at any given moment. Add in the number of pedestrians using their cell phones while walking, and the result is thousands of deaths each year. The GHSA recently reported, “Pedestrians now account for about 16% of all motor vehicle deaths, compared with 11% just a few years ago.” These statistics represent the highest proportion of pedestrian deaths in over three decades.
Even with vehicle safety technology like blind spot monitoring systems, forward collision warnings, emergency braking systems, lane departure warnings, and rear view cameras, pedestrians are being killed at record numbers. Pedestrians are dying on our nation’s roadways and sidewalks, and the number of pedestrians killed in 2019 is set to top the alarming number of pedestrian deaths in 2017 and 2018.
What Pedestrians Should Know
As more and more of us take to the neighborhood streets, parks, and sidewalks to get our steps in, more of us are getting hit by passing cars. No one can argue that distracted drivers and walkers are both to blame for the soaring number of pedestrian injuries and deaths in the last few years. However, pedestrians obeying the rules of the road while getting their walks in are entitled to pursue legal action if they are injured through no fault of their own.
First, it’s not always the driver of the car or SUV that’s at fault in pedestrian accident, but in most states, pedestrians do have the right-of-way. Vehicles must yield to pedestrians who are in marked crosswalks or in other locations where state law gives walkers the right-of-way. Cars must travel the posted speed limit, but when pedestrians are present, it is recommended they drive at even slower speeds. Some drivers simply ignore that and consider it a “recommendation” more so than a law. If a vehicle is traveling at an unsafe speed or strikes you while you are in a marked crosswalk, the driver will most likely be found “at fault.”
If you did not sustain an injury, you will not receive compensation. However, if you are injured and it is determined that the driver was at fault, you may be able to pursue what is referred to as a “third party claim.” You file a claim against the driver’s automobile insurance policy, which is the first step in receiving compensation. Ideally, your medical bills and lost income will be covered through this claim; in some cases, the insurance company will offer a settlement that may include pain and suffering for your injuries.
Please keep in mind that it’s the insurance company’s goal to pay out as little money as possible, and they will do everything in their power to get you to agree to a “low ball” number. If the settlement is not enough, you may need to file a civil lawsuit in order to recover damages and compensation for pain and suffering.
If a pedestrian is hit, the driver of the car is required to stop and exchange relevant information (insurance, vehicle registration, and identification). In most states, it’s called a “hit and run” if the driver hits you and then takes off. If this should happen, it is important to file a police report immediately and obtain contact information from any witnesses on the scene. Your personal health insurance should cover your medical bills until the driver can be identified.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in New Hampshire or Vermont, please contact us for a free claim evaluation. Why deal with the insurance companies on your own? You should focus your time on recuperating from your accident. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to evaluate your claim and to allow you to learn more about pedestrian rights.