If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury after being hit as a pedestrian, contact our Denver personal injury attorney at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal today for a free case consultation. Call the office today to discuss your case at (303) 825-2223 or fill out the online form here.
Why You Should Talk To A Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
One of the most devastating types of motor vehicle accidents are accidents involving pedestrians. A pedestrian who is struck by a car or other type of motor vehicle can be seriously injured, maimed, permanently disabled, or even killed as a result of an accident. Unfortunately, it looks like pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, there was a 4% increase in pedestrian deaths from traffic accidents. This is following a general increase in traffic fatalities overall. The NHTSA’s early estimates are that about 35,200 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2015. U.S. News reports that “[n]early three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occur after dark.” Alcohol also can play a factor in pedestrian crashes. A third of the pedestrians who were killed in a motor vehicle accident “had been drinking alcohol”, while about 15% of drivers were under the influence with “blood alcohol content at the legal limit or higher.”
The Governor Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggested that the reason that there are more pedestrians out and about may be because of “[w]armer weather and shorter winters along with a greater awareness of health benefits may also be encouraging people to walk more.” In addition, the GHSA stated the “[t]he growing use of cellphones distracting drivers and walkers may also be partially to blame.” Lower gas prices and a better economy could be additional factors in the increase in crashes. However, this increase is not a one year anomaly, according to U.S. News. Rather, “pedestrian fatalities have been rising since 2005, and now account for 15 percent of total traffic deaths.”
If you or a loved one is struck by a motor vehicle while out walking, you may have significant and serious injuries to contend with. You could end up spending months in the hospital and going through rehabilitation, or you may be left with a permanent disability that no amount of rehabilitation will be able to help. Understandably, after such a devastating accident, you may want to seek compensation from the person responsible for your injuries. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you as you navigate through the legal system and insurance claims process. Contact us here for more information.
How Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
According to the most current available from the Centers for Disease Control, one American dies in a pedestrian crash every 1.6 hours. In addition, more than 100,000 individuals are treated in emergency rooms each year for non-fatal injuries resulting from a pedestrian accident.
These events have unique characteristics, several of which reflect elements of risk that seem obvious once reviewed.
- Almost three-fourths of pedestrian accidents happen at night, with the majority occurring between 6:00 pm and 12:00 pm.
- While pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur at intersections, almost 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities result from incidents that occur at non-intersection locations.
- Three times as many pedestrians are hit by cars that are turning left than by cars that are turning right.
- Hybrids and electric vehicles, which can make almost no sound, are 40 percent more likely to hit pedestrians.
- The driver or pedestrian, or both, were under the influence of alcohol in almost half of pedestrian accident fatalities.
Common Pedestrian Injuries
The great force that a moving automobile can exert against a body makes it inevitable that serious injuries will be the result of a pedestrian accident, and if the vehicle is moving at a faster speed, the consequences are even more deadly.
Injuries that result from pedestrian crashes include the following:
- Head trauma and traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones: Fractures to the arms, legs, hips, joints, and pelvis
- Damage to the teeth and jaw
- Spinal cord injuries (paralysis)
- Bruises, scrapes and lacerations
- Damage to internal organs and internal bleeding
The variables in such accidents are considerable, from the speed the vehicle is traveling, the type of vehicle, the exact location on the body that is struck, the age of the victim, and the potential for a secondary impact from another vehicle all play a part in the level of injuries to the cyclist.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Seek?
If it can be demonstrated that the injuries you received are the result of reckless or negligent behavior by the driver who hit you, a claim or lawsuit should be filed to seek full compensation for what occurred.
It is important to note that Colorado law (CRS 13-21-111), limits the damages a party can receive if they are found to have some degree of responsibility for the accident. If you are 25 percent responsible, your damages will be reduced by that amount. If you are 50 percent responsible, no damages will be rewarded. This is worth mentioning in regard to pedestrian accidents due to the fact that many of the most serious accidents occur at non-intersections.
You have the right to pursue damages to cover all of your medical costs, including any rehabilitation or ongoing care, pain and suffering and present and future lost income. If the person who caused the accident was involved in excessively reckless behavior, such as speeding, driving drunk, texting, or reckless driving, you may be able to pursue punitive damages – money paid to the victim in order to punish those who engage in acts of gross negligence.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me?
You don’t have much chance of negotiating the complexities of a pedestrian accident case without the help of an experienced Denver accident attorney.
If your injuries are serious, it is especially important to have legal help when dealing with insurance companies. Assembling the needed documentation relating to your accident and its impact on you, conducting any necessary investigations, and other legal issues can be arduous and length processes. There’s too much at risk to trust this work to any but the most qualified legal professionals.
Negligence In Pedestrian Accidents
If a driver hits a pedestrian, that driver was likely driving negligently. If a person is negligent, and as a result of that person’s negligence, someone else is injured or property is damaged, the negligent person can be held liable for the injuries or damage that he or she has caused. Negligence is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as “[t]he failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1133 (9th ed. 2009). For example, if a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian because the driver was on his phone and not paying attention, then the driver has likely failed to exercise the appropriate standard of care as the reasonably prudent person would not text or Snapchat while operating a motor vehicle. That phone-obsessed driver could be found negligent and be held responsible for damages.
In order to prove negligence, certain elements must be met. In Colorado, the plaintiff must show that “the defendant owed a legal duty of care; second, the defendant breached that duty; third, the plaintiff was injured; and fourth, the defendant’s breach caused that injury.” Vigil v. Franklin, 103 P.3d 322, 324 (Colo. 2004). If a plaintiff can prove all these elements, then the plaintiff may be able to hold the defendant liable for any injuries or damage that was caused by the defendant’s negligent conduct.
Comparative Negligence In Pedestrian Accidents
Sometimes there is more than one cause of an accident. If a plaintiff is partially at fault for his or her injuries, then there are some things that the plaintiff needs to be aware of. In some states, any negligence on the part of the plaintiff can completely bar the plaintiff from recovering damages from the defendant, even if the defendant is primarily the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. However, this is not the case in Colorado. Rather than following the harsh doctrine of contributorily negligence, Colorado follows the more fair doctrine of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence permits a plaintiff to be partially at fault and still recover for his or her injuries. However, any damages the plaintiff is awarded are reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault.
There are different kinds of comparative negligence. In Colorado, the state permits a plaintiff to recover damages even if he or she is negligent, “if such negligence was not as great as the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought.” C.R.S. 13-21-111 (2016). Thus, if a plaintiff is less negligent than the defendant, the plaintiff can still recover damages for his or her injury.
For example, let’s say Polly was walking towards an intersection crosswalk. The crosswalk sign had turned to the red hand, indicating that pedestrians should no longer cross. However, Polly ignored this sign and headed across the intersection anyway. Unfortunately, Daniel was making a right turn at the same time. Daniel had assumed Polly was going to wait when she reached the intersection. Daniel hit Polly with his car, knocking her down and causing a head injury as well as breaking several ribs. Polly files a lawsuit against Daniel for her injuries.
A jury decides that Polly is partially responsible for her injuries because she failed to follow the traffic signs. She is determined to be 35% at fault for her injuries, while Daniel is determined to be 65% at fault for the accident. Because Polly’s fault is less than Daniel’s, she can still recover damages for her injuries. Let’s say the jury awards Polly $100,000. Her award would then be reduced by 35%, so she would recover $65,000 instead of $100,000.