The laws of physics are unforgiving; when a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds strikes a human, the human is at risk of serious injury or death. The law addresses this disparity between pedestrians and vehicles by giving pedestrians the right of way in various areas. Although pedestrians have the right of way, serious pedestrian accidents still occur.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can come in various types. Collisions between pedestrians and bicycles or motorcycles can injure both parties. Collisions between pedestrians and cars, trucks, or sports utility vehicles usually result in serious injury to the pedestrian and no injury to the vehicle’s occupants.
The circumstances at the scene can also vary. Motor vehicle collisions with pedestrians often leave the motor vehicle operable, so drivers often attempt to flee the scene after colliding with a pedestrian. This deprives the pedestrian of a person capable of providing first aid. In more deserted conditions, this can deprive the pedestrian with his or her only chance at first aid.
Pedestrians and the Law
According to an auto accident lawyer West Palm Beach based firm, the important factors in determining how a vehicle collision with a pedestrian occurs are the location of the accident, the circumstances of the collision, whether the collision was intentional, and whether the driver stays around at the end of a collision.
Under various state laws, pedestrians have the right of way in most areas. Pedestrians have the right of way in parking lots, on sidewalks, at intersections, at crosswalks, and in various other areas. Usually, when a driver strikes a pedestrian who has the right of way, the driver has driven negligently. Drivers have a duty to drive reasonably, and ignoring the right of way is a blatant violation of that duty. This includes unmarked intersections and in some states, the entire surface street.
The circumstances of the collision can determine whether the driver has breached his or her duty to drive reasonably. If a pedestrian is standing in a well-lit area of the road and the driver carelessly drives into the pedestrian, the driver will be negligent. If the driver has no time to react to a pedestrian leaping in front of the vehicle, then the driver probably will not have breached any duty of care.
In rare occasions, the vehicle collision is not an accident; instead, the driver intentionally drives into the pedestrian. In this case, the driver will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, or attempted murder, depending upon the verbiage of the local statutes. This also makes the driver civilly liable for battery, although the serious criminal charges will probably overshadow a lawsuit.
Whether a driver remains at the end of a collision is also important. States have statutes prohibiting drivers from leaving the scene of an accident. Ordinarily, this is a misdemeanor. If the pedestrian is injured, the hit and run can constitute a felony in some states. In civil court, this will also make the driver look less sympathetic to the jury.
Pedestrian accidents can result in serious injury and an inability to work. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, it will usually be the fault of the vehicle’s driver. Pedestrians who are injured at the hands of a motorist should contact an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled local attorney can advise a potential plaintiff on the best course of action to recover for financial losses.
Katie Hewatt is legal researcher and contributing author for Steinger, Iscoe & Green, an auto accident lawyer West Palm Beach based law firm that specializes in personal injury cases including but not limited to pedestrian accidents, auto accidents, bicycle accidents, and motorcycle accidents. The attorneys at Steinger, Iscoe & Green are experienced with pedestrian accidents and will handle every aspect of your case including extensive investigation into your accident.