Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one pedestrian dies about every 75 minutes in the United States, and one in six people killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2020 were pedestrians. Alcohol was involved for drivers and/or pedestrians in almost half (46 percent) of crashes causing pedestrian deaths in 2019, with 13 percent involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 and 32 percent involving a pedestrian with a BAC of at least 0.08.
Actions of drivers operating motor vehicles are among the most common causes of pedestrian accidents, with possible causes including, but not being limited to:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol
- Reckless driving
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Crossing roadways or intersections improperly
- Failure to yield right of way
- Poor visibility
- Failure to signal
- Inclement weather
- Improperly installed or defective traffic lights
- Failure to slow down in school zones
- Rolling stops
- Road construction
- Inexperienced drivers
- Left-hand turns
- Unmarked crosswalks
- Multi-lane or arterial roads
While some causes may be difficult to prove, like drivers being distracted by cell phones, an attorney may be able to subpoena a driver’s phone records to prove they were using their phone at the time of an accident. When a pedestrian accident does involve drunk driving, Georgia Code § 51-1-40 allows people to hold sellers of alcohol like bars, restaurants, or liquor stores liable when they willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully serve alcohol to people who are younger than age 21 or knowingly serve alcohol to people who are in a state of noticeable intoxication and they also knows that a minor or intoxicated person will soon be driving a motor vehicle.
The same law also allows people to hold “social hosts” liable for serving alcohol to minors or noticeably intoxicated people. Dram shop claims can be difficult to prove since people must demonstrate that a person was noticeably intoxicated, but cases involving minors will be easier to prove since a minor simply needs to be served any alcohol, regardless of intoxication.Not all pedestrian accidents necessarily involve motor vehicles. Pedestrians can also be harmed because of:
- Falling objects
- Dangerous roadways
- Construction errors
Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrian accidents involving motor vehicles are often fatal because pedestrians usually have no protection when they are struck. Common kinds of pedestrian injuries may include, but are not limited to:
- Fractures or broken bones
- Arm injuries
- Neck injuries
- Knee injuries
- Leg injuries
- Back injuries
- Crush injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Closed head injuries
- Skull fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Permanent nerve injuries
- Severe burn injuries
- Wrongful death
Possible Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Case
People who suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident have the right to seek financial compensation known as damages. Compensatory damages are often some combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages will be tangible losses that people can prove and calculate. Common kinds of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Ambulance transportation costs
- Hospitalization costs
- Nursing care costs
- Follow-up medical care costs
- Property damage
- Lost wages
Noneconomic damages are much more intangible kinds of harm. These damages could include:
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of bodily functions
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain
- Emotional anguish
- Reputation and humiliation damages
Pedestrian accidents that result in wrongful death can also involve additional damages like:
- funeral and burial expenses
- medical expenses
- lost wages and benefits a deceased person would have been able to earn if they had lived
- loss of companionship, comfort, care, and affection of the deceased person
- survivors’ grief or sorrow
- any pain, suffering, or disfigurement the deceased experienced before death
Another kind of damages that is far more rare is punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages or vindictive damages. Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1 establishes that punitive damages can only be awarded in tort actions in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant’s actions demonstrated willful misconduct, fraud, wantonness, malice, oppression, or that entire want of care that raises the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences, and they are awarded not as compensation but strictly to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.
Punitive damages have a maximum of $250,000.00 in Georgia. Punitive damages are generally more likely when a person has multiple DUI arrests on their criminal record.
Liability for a Pedestrian Accident
Georgia uses a modified comparative fault system to determine liability for accidents, and this means that a person cannot recover anything when they are found to have been more than 50 percent responsible for an accident. People need to understand that many insurance companies in these cases will deny claims on the basis that a pedestrian was somehow at fault for their injuries, which is rarely ever true.
Most pedestrian accident cases will involve negligence claims in which people must prove:
- Duty of care — The person who caused an accident had a legal responsibility to avoid harming other people.
- Breach of duty — The person breached their duty of care by causing the accident.
- Causation — The accident caused a person to suffer injuries.
- Damages — The victim has suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm because of the pedestrian accident.
It is also important to understand how modified comparative fault can impact an award in these cases. If a jury awards a person $100,000 for a pedestrian accident but finds them to be 35 percent responsible for the accident, the award is reduced by $35,000 and the person recovers $65,000.
While drivers of motor vehicles are some of the most common liable parties in pedestrian accident cases, there can be many other instances in which other parties are liable. Governmental entities could be liable for dangerous roadways, motor vehicle part manufacturers may be liable for defective parts causing accidents, and building owners might be liable if their property plays a role in a pedestrian accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in any kind of pedestrian accident in the greater Marietta area, do not wait to get legal help with your case. Spaulding Injury Law is ready to help you get justice.Our firm will offer legal representation on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay us anything unless we win or settle your case. Call (770) 744-0890 or contact us online for a free consultation.