The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is once again designating the month of October as “Pedestrian Safety Month.” Despite ambitious efforts across the country, the problem of pedestrian accidents is ongoing – and the COVID-19 pandemic did not help. According to a report in Forbes, an estimated 6,721 pedestrians were struck and killed in 2020, a 21% increase from 2019. The National Safety Council reported that in 2019, 17% of all traffic deaths were pedestrians.
As personal injury attorneys, we have seen firsthand the devastation that pedestrians experience when they are struck by a car. It is frustrating and disheartening to see people’s lives turned upside down in a matter of seconds in a preventable accident. For those that survive, serious injuries are common. Pedestrian accident victims may face lengthy hospital stays and rehabilitation or be permanently disabled.
Common Types of Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Some of the most common types of pedestrian accident injuries we see at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates include:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Unlike motorcyclists and bicyclists, pedestrians don’t typically wear helmets. Being struck by a car can cause someone to be forcefully thrown into the air and onto the ground. A blow to the head can cause serious injuries that may be permanent.
- Broken bones: Pedestrian accidents are responsible for a high number of orthopedic injuries, including broken arms, pelvic fractures, broken femurs, broken fibulas, fractured collarbones, and broken ribs. Depending on the location and severity of the fracture, surgery may be necessary to help an injury heal.
- Spinal cord injuries: A blow to the spine or spinal cord can result in permanent disability. Many people who suffer spinal cord injuries need skilled nursing care or around-the-clock care at home.
- Blunt trauma injuries: An injury to the body caused by forceful impact can result in rupture or damage to internal injuries, contusions, abrasions, and lacerations.
Sometimes Civil Justice is the Only Justice
Even if a driver is determined to be responsible for an accident, they may not face criminal charges. The LAist reported last year that only a small number of drivers who strike and kill pedestrians are actually arrested. Out of 2,109 drivers who killed pedestrians on Los Angeles streets from 2010 through 2019, only 158 people were booked on vehicular manslaughter charges.
A lawsuit may be the only means of holding a responsible party accountable. It is possible to recover financial compensation when another party is responsible, even if they do not face criminal charges. Damages in personal injury claims can include money for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.
Many Pedestrian Accidents Are Preventable
Both pedestrians (including joggers) and motorists have a role in safety. In other words, preventing pedestrian accidents is a shared responsibility. Some of the things motorists can do to prevent pedestrian accidents include:
- Review the California Driver Handbook to understand applicable vehicle laws.
- Obey all speed limits, especially those in school zones and neighborhoods where children may be present.
- Look for people (including children and toddlers) walking behind your vehicle before backing up.
- Send texts, make phone calls, and program GPS directions and music before taking your vehicle out of “park.”
- Do not pass vehicles stopped at crosswalks (marked or unmarked).
- Scan crosswalks as you approach them, and yield to pedestrians. Make eye contact.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
If you are a pedestrian (and we are all pedestrians at one point) the biggest thing you can do to protect yourself is to be alert and eliminate distraction. Cell phones – the biggest distraction – can take your eyes, ears, and mind off your environment and cause you to walk in front of a car, truck, or even a train.
It is not just being struck by a car that distractions can lead to. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) regularly champions the dangers of distracted walking. Cell phones are one of the biggest distractions. Smartphone distractions cause people to walk off curbs, trip over hazards and walk into walls, doors, and signs. Many people feel comfortable walking and “face timing” but this can be dangerous as it may lead to you missing an obstacle or hazard.
Keep Your Children and Teenagers Safe
Parents have many opportunities to educate and encourage their children to be safe when walking. Safe Kids Worldwide, a global nonprofit organization focused on protecting children from preventable injuries, says that for children ages 5-19 in the United States, unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death. Teenagers have a death rate twice that of younger children. In 2019, pedestrian injuries in children and teens resulted in:
- 7 fatal injuries per week
- 289 nonfatal injuries per week.
Contact An Experienced Orange County Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The pedestrian accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can help! Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in handling pedestrian accident claims.
With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, Riverside and San Diego, our accident attorneys have helped injured pedestrians across Southern California. For more information or to schedule a free case consultation, please call 949-727-9300.
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