We Help Pedestrian Accident Victims Recover Compensation
Pedestrians often sustain some of the most serious injuries of all auto accident victims. This should come as no surprise, because pedestrians do not have the protection afforded by vehicle safety features (such as airbags and seatbelts) or safety equipment worn by motorcycle and bicycle riders, making them more vulnerable to injuries.
The experienced auto accident attorneys at Winer, Burritt & Tillis LLP, have decades of experience in protecting the legal rights of auto accident victims in and around the Bay Area. To schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team, call our office today at (510) 200-0162 or send us an email through our online contact form.
Pedestrian Accidents Can Result in Significant—and Permanent—Medical Issues and Other Losses
Serious injuries sustained in an accident between a pedestrian and a car can devastate a victim’s life for years afterward. Paralysis, for example, results in extraordinary medical expenses and care costs for the remainder of a victim’s life.
Three pedestrians were severely injured in an Oakland crosswalk. Surveillance video captured the accident, in which a car struck two young women and a five-year-old boy. All of them sustained severe injuries—the five-year old even suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury as a result of the collision. Police said the driver was unlicensed.
Medical expenses, pain treatment, physical therapy to build strength, and other rehabilitative services can continue for the rest of the victim’s life. Home care is also often necessary, as are disability modifications to the victim’s home and vehicle. These costs can continue for decades.
While an amputation may not demand the constant in-home care that some paralysis victims require, it nonetheless causes very real (and compensable) losses in the victim’s life. The loss of enjoyment of hobbies and daily activities, the decreased earning potential created by limited mobility, and the pain and suffering associated with an amputation are all losses for which the law may allow compensation.
In a case in Oroville, a driver allegedly struck a woman in a hit and run accident, causing doctors to amputate part of her foot; doctors were reportedly still working to save the rest of her foot.
Local Victims of Pedestrian Injuries
Injury victims here in Oakland have also experienced devastating pedestrian injuries. In East Oakland, a pedestrian was killed on the Fruitdale Avenue off-ramp of the Interstate 580. The Mercury News reports that investigators were unable to immediately determine why the pedestrian was on the ramp. The driver of the vehicle stopped after the accident and was reportedly cooperating with investigators.
Surprisingly similar circumstances also led to the death of a pedestrian on the 880 in Oakland. NBC Bay Area reports that the man was walking on the shoulder of the northbound highway lanes just south of 29th Avenue. He was struck and killed shortly after 911 dispatchers received initial reports of a pedestrian on the highway.
In East Oakland, yet another pedestrian was killed—this time as the result of street racing. According to CBS San Francisco, the victim died near a Walgreens store at the corner of 82nd Avenue and International Boulevard. Two vehicles were reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed when one lost control and struck the pedestrian. Both vehicles were abandoned and their drivers fled on foot. The drivers (and potentially the occupants of the vehicles) remained at large. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
A hit-and-run driver killed another woman on 98th Avenue and Sunnyside Street in an Oakland crosswalk on New Year’s Eve. In nearby Richmond, California, a 68-year-old man died when a vehicle struck him as he crossed the street.
High speeds are not always to blame. In Berkeley, a city employee allegedly failed to yield to an elderly pedestrian and killed her in a marked crosswalk. The car was only traveling at 15 miles per hour when it hit the pedestrian.
These local tragedies are a stark reminder that pedestrian injuries are serious—and often fatal. Drivers and pedestrians must all exercise caution to prevent pedestrian accidents. Luckily, you can reduce the odds of a pedestrian accident by taking the following five steps.
(1) Know the risk factors. Certain areas and times of day are factors that contribute to pedestrian accidents. Parking lots, for example, are common problem areas due to the number of pedestrians walking to their vehicles. Drivers also suffer from diverted attention in parking lots. These conditions can all increase the risk of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian.
Nighttime is another common risk factor for pedestrian accidents. Decreased visibility can make seeing pedestrians in the roadway more difficult, and this decreases the stopping distance available to drivers. Pedestrians who walk at night should choose well-lit paths. They can also improve visibility to drivers by wearing light-colored or reflective clothing.
(2) Always obey traffic control devices. Many pedestrian accidents occur outside of crosswalks. While drivers still have a duty of care to watch for pedestrians in the roadway, cross only in designated crosswalks to significantly reduce the risk of a collision. Drivers must also take care to obey traffic signals. Permissive right turns on red are a particular problem—the driver must still note any walk signals and yield to pedestrians or bicycle riders in the roadway.
(3) Be careful of sun glare. Sun glare was blamed in a recent string of pedestrian accidents in Santa Fe. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, two separate drivers struck pedestrians in two separate accidents, and both told police that they were unable to see each pedestrian because the sun was in their eyes. Both scenes were at a similar east-west orientation, which received similar angles of sunlight. Both pedestrians were crossing outside of designated crosswalks. One died at the scene of the accident, and the other was in critical condition.
(4) Avoid distracted driving. Perhaps never before has distracted driving presented such a pervasive public safety hazard on the roads of America. Smartphones, navigation systems, and in-vehicle information or entertainment programs provide a wealth of opportunity to distract drivers from the road ahead of them. This is in addition to long-standing distractions such as eating, drinking coffee, or attending to children in the back seat.
Distracted driving is dangerous to all road users, but especially to unprotected pedestrians. Distracted driving may constitute negligence—meaning that the driver did not meet the legal duty to drive as a reasonably prudent driver would have in similar circumstances. A finding of negligence may also make the distracted driver financially responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries and losses. This can lead to a civil judgment, increased insurance premiums, and other financial consequences.
(5) Avoid impaired driving. For many years, Americans associated impaired driving with alcohol. This resulted from highly effective advocacy campaigns by powerful groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. State laws all across the country have narrowly defined specific intoxication levels, and criminal penalties for violations are becoming ever stricter.
Yet, as drunk driving campaigns have increased, a closely related problem has quietly become even more dangerous to American road users. The Washington Post reports that 2015 was the first year in which drugged driving caused more traffic fatalities than drunk driving. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reports that the number of opioid-impaired drivers who caused fatal traffic accidents increased seven times between 1995 and 2015. It would appear that the American opioid crisis has now hit the road.
Drugged driving can prove more difficult to recognize than drunk driving. Unlike alcohol, where impairment is legally defined as a certain concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream, there is typically no quantitative definition of impairment when it comes to recreational or prescription drugs under the law. This can make knowing when someone cannot safely drive difficult. Be vigilant and mindful of the effects of prescription drugs. Do not hesitate to speak up to a friend or family member whom should not drive.
New Technologies Can Also Help Reduce Pedestrian Accidents
The recent Uber self-driving vehicle accident in Tempe, Arizona (which resulted in the death of a pedestrian), has raised serious safety questions about self-driving vehicles and their autonomous features. The Tempe accident is still under investigation. It is not yet clear whether a failure of the self-driving technology or other factors caused the pedestrian’s death.
But even as we question the safety of vehicle technology, such technology also offers exciting possibilities for future safety endeavors. Quartz reports that one artificial intelligence company is proposing monitoring software that can detect whether a safety driver is actually paying attention to the road. (Footage released in the Tempe accident allegedly showed that the backup safety driver in the autonomous vehicle was distracted in the seconds before the accident.) Because most autonomous vehicles already have cameras facing the driver’s seat, the system would only require software to actually monitor and interpret the data that it already receives, and signal to the driver to pay attention to the road. If the driver continues to ignore the alerts, manufacturers could program the vehicle to automatically come to a stop.
Federal regulations are also addressing other safety problems that affect pedestrians. For many years now, regulators have expressed concern about how quiet hybrid and electric vehicles are at low speeds. This can prevent pedestrians from becoming aware of a vehicle’s presence until it is too late to avoid a collision. Car Buzz reports that sound alerts for hybrid vehicles were proposed as early as 2010. Advocacy groups for the visually impaired, who are at increased risk of injury from quiet vehicles, have long supported these sound alerts.
These rules have suffered many delays and setbacks, but auto manufacturers in the United States now have until 2020 to equip their hybrid and electric vehicles with sound alerts to warn pedestrians of their presence. The final version of the rules requires sound alerts when such vehicles travel at less than 18.6 miles per hour. (Sound alerts are not necessary at higher speeds, where tire noise exceeds engine noise. When this occurs, hybrid or electric vehicles are just as noisy as gas or diesel-powered vehicles.)
Sound alerts cannot, of course, prevent all pedestrian accidents. Drivers of electric or hybrid vehicles may have to exercise greater caution to meet their duty of care. When a particular type of car poses a unique danger, drivers must make themselves aware of it and adjust their driving habits accordingly.
Protect Your Rights and Speak With an Oakland Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
California law protects the right of injury victims to recover compensation for all losses that a defendant’s negligence caused. From permanent injuries incurred in a pedestrian accident, enormous losses can result. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Winer, Burritt & Tillis LLP, by calling (510) 200-0162. We offer free consultations to help injury victims determine how best to protect their legal rights.