The Basics of Pedestrian-Car Accidents

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In today’s industrialized age, it is almost impossible to find somebody who has not had their life impacted by a car accident in one way or another. If you yourself have never been in an auto accident, you probably know someone who has. Unfortunately, this also means that traffic accidents between vehicles and pedestrians are surprisingly common.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pedestrian death occurs every 1.5 hours in the United States. In fact, almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2016 alone. These accidents are serious, especially since pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in an automobile accident than vehicle occupants. 

Certain demographics may be more at risk for pedestrian accidents than others. Older adults and children are most likely to be killed in a pedestrian accident, as are pedestrians who are alcohol-impaired. Higher vehicle speeds also increase the risk of pedestrian accidents, as does driving in urban areas, non-intersection locations, and at night.

If a driver has been determined guilty of causing a pedestrian accident, then they can count on their consequences being both harsh and plentiful. They should expect to deal with both civil and criminal consequences. The details, however, depend on the specifics of the crash.

Criminal Penalties in a Pedestrian Accident

There are three types of pedestrian accidents that will bring about criminal penalties for the driver. These are hit-and-run accidents, drunk driving accidents, and vehicular or involuntary manslaughter. We will give you a brief overview of what is involved in all three.

In a normal pedestrian accident, the driver has generally struck the pedestrian on accident and stops immediately in order to follow proper post-accident protocol. This involves exchanging all relevant insurance and contact information, as well as calling any necessary authorities.

The Basics of Pedestrian-Car AccidentsIf a driver does all this, then it is likely that they will not face any consequences harsher than a personal injury lawsuit and some higher car insurance rates. However, drivers who flee the scene turn the accident into a hit-and-run and immediately become subject to criminal charges. They may even face felony arrest or a potential prison sentence.

A driver that gets into a pedestrian accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can safely anticipate a DUI arrest and conviction. Such drivers should also be aware that causing pedestrians injuries is most certainly an “aggravating circumstance.” This means that the accident may exacerbate any sentence that the driver receives. They may expect to face more jail time, be subject to higher fines, and receive harsher driver’s license penalties than they otherwise might.

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automobile accident-related pedestrian deaths account for 11% of all traffic accident deaths. In such cases, the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter (otherwise known as involuntary manslaughter).

However, this is only true if the driver’s conduct is determined to go beyond ordinary negligence. Rather, the driver must be deemed to have “reckless disregard of the substantial risk” caused by their driving. If the pedestrian’s death was a true accident and there are no aggravating circumstances, then it is unlikely that the driver will face criminal charges. It is still possible, though, that they will have to deal with a wrongful death lawsuit.

Civil Penalties in a Pedestrian Accident

In most pedestrian accidents, the driver can expect to face civil penalties in case of a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim—provided that the driver was at fault. Here is a brief overview of what is involved in both cases.

If a pedestrian has, through no fault of their own, been hit and injured by a driver, they may be entitled to seek out damages. In other words, they have the right to collect compensation for any losses caused by the accident. They may go about this in two different ways: through filing a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.

No matter which avenue the pedestrian chooses, the first step will always be to establish the driver’s fault for the accident. This means that the pedestrian has the burden of proving that it was the driver’s negligence that caused the accident to occur.

They may go about this in a variety of ways, from taking photographs to taking statements from witnesses. Police reports may also be useful in such cases, as they may detail any traffic violations committed by the driver. Medical reports can also attest to the validity of the pedestrian’s injuries.

The injured pedestrian will then ask the driver to compensate them for any injuries and damages they have incurred as a result of the accident. This may include medical expenses, lost time at work, lost wages, pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. Damages may be both economic and non-economic.

Most personal injury car accident claims are resolved out-of-court and through the driver’s car insurance provider. However, insurance may not always apply to every civil case. For instance, insurance may not cover the damages incurred by a drunk driving accident.

Finally, civil penalties may also apply if the driver is subject to a wrongful death lawsuit. Every state in the country has its own version of wrongful death laws. These laws allow the deceased’s surviving family to open up a civil lawsuit against the responsible party.

As with any other sort of personal injury claim, the first step of a wrongful death case is to prove that it was the driver’s negligence that caused the accident. The survivors will then ask for compensation for their losses. These may include, but are not limited to, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and loss of the deceased’s support.

Seeking Legal Help

If you have recently been involved in a pedestrian accident, there is no reason for you to suffer alone. We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the nation. Do not hesitate. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our qualified nationwide personal injury attorneys. Let us fight for you.

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