Car accidents cause serious injuries and sometimes death to pedestrians. In fact, pedestrians make up 15 percent of all traffic casualties annually. Every year, about 60,000 pedestrians are injured in the United States, and more than 4,000 are killed in accidents. This means that a pedestrian suffers an injury every eight minutes, and every 113 minutes, one is killed.
Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs increase the likelihood of serious injury or even death of pedestrians. Unfortunately, even with the availability of rideshare services and other transportation methods, many people still drive under the influence of intoxicants. A person who is drunk or on drugs behind the wheel does not have the clarity of mind or vision to see a pedestrian in their path.
An intoxicated person might also miss a red light or stop sign when the pedestrian is crossing, or they might swerve on the road, hitting a jogger or walker. In an accident, an intoxicated driver’s car can end up on the sidewalk or virtually anywhere, potentially hitting a pedestrian.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. Sometimes, the injured party is an innocent pedestrian. Distracted driving is typically when the operator of a vehicle is participating in other tasks, such as:
Drowsy driving is a widespread problem. People working odd hours or driving late into the night increase their chance of falling asleep at the wheel. Even if they do not fall asleep, a drowsy driver can easily miss seeing pedestrians or a traffic light that has turned red. They also may drift on the shoulder or even a sidewalk where a pedestrian is walking.
A driver may be in a hurry, showing off, or exhibiting road rage, all of which can be deadly. A motorist who is speeding, tailgating, changing lanes unsafely, or otherwise driving recklessly can easily injure or kill a pedestrian.
Vehicle drivers are responsible for pedestrian safety as well:
Injuries to pedestrians who are struck by a vehicle are almost always catastrophic. Pedestrians have zero protection from heavy vehicles. Common injuries include:
Not all pedestrian accidents occur on or near a road. Parking lots, sidewalks, entrances and exits to stores and restaurants, and other locales are all familiar places for pedestrian accidents. Anywhere a person can walk, or jog is a potential accident scene.
If you are involved in an accident as a pedestrian, your injuries can run from minor to severe. Some important steps to take after a pedestrian accident include:
After an accident in which a vehicle driver injured you, you need a legal advocate. Insurance companies are well-versed in minimizing their liability and placing blame on you.
A lawyer will speak with you to understand the details of the accident. They will generally let you know if you have a legal claim during the initial consultation. A legal claim can be with your own insurer or against the offending driver’s insurance company.
If you do have a legal claim, your lawyer will get to work immediately. They will:
Pennsylvania has special laws to protect pedestrians. Under these laws, the pedestrian’s medical bills are covered up to the amount of their auto insurance policy. An injured pedestrian hit by a vehicle can seek medical coverage by filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim. PIP coverage follows this order:
PIP claims cover medical expenses, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and funeral expenses in wrongful death claims.
Under Pennsylvania law, the minimum PIP policy requirement is $5,000 per person, but people will often purchase higher amounts, such as $10,000. Therefore, the maximum coverage depends on the policy amount.
If PIP benefits run out, the pedestrian may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver for compensation from the driver’s insurance company. This is a bodily injury liability claim, and you must make it within two years of the accident date.
Bodily injury liability is mandatory coverage for every Pennsylvania driver. This coverage will apply if the insured driver causes injuries to the pedestrian. The minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage is $15,000 per person and a maximum of $30,000 per accident.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you are urged to reach out to our Philadelphia pedestrian accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.