Pedestrian accidents are often serious injury situations because the victim has zero protection other than possible barriers on a roadway or sidewalk. And they assuredly happen under a wide variety of circumstances. One of those circumstances is when they occur at night while visibility is low for motorists. This can happen in low-speed locations like city streets or out on the open highway when pedestrians are using the roadside as a pathway. Or even on well-lit pedestrian crossings.
Who is responsible? – As is often the case, it depends on the material details of the accident.
Pedestrian Accident Investigations
All pedestrian accidents are investigated by local law enforcement officers who will produce an accident report. However, the accident report does not determine fault. It determines the accident facts with a reconstruction officer assessment. In North Carolina, any injured accident victim who is found even 1% at fault will be denied any financial recovery, so the motorist must be totally at fault for accident causation. And the concept that pedestrians always have the right of way may not exactly apply.
While this is not an exhaustive list, examples of pedestrian fault in nighttime accidents can include:
- Crossing a street outside of designated walkways
- Crossing a street when a “do not walk” light is illuminated
- Walking on the right side of a highway
- Failure to wear reflective clothing of any type
- Intentionally walking into the roadway
- Stumbling and stepping off the pavement
What Can a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Do For You?
Luckily for injured pedestrians, final determination of fault for injuries is often assigned by a jury when a case goes to trial. However, clear cases of total driver fault are often settled well before this occurs. There are a number of Personal Injury Law firms in the New Bern, NC area and most should be qualified to investigate the accident independently and question any witnesses as well as the reconstruction officer if there is a discrepancy between investigations. The Personal Injury Lawyer may not always be trial-experienced however, so be sure to ask the question during your initial consultation with an attorney and before hiring them to represent your case.
Accident investigations will generally include an examination of accident scene reports, interviews with any witnesses to the accident, and possible depositions of witnesses. Where insurance providers agree with the findings of the reconstruction officer, and the findings are not in your favor, then your accident lawyer will have his or her work cut out in convincing a jury that the accident report contains errors. To avoid going to court and having the injured client assessed a major financial award by a sympathetic jury, insurance companies may agree to settle, even when there’s some portion of fault attributed to the injured person, but these cases are quite rare. [North Carolina’s ‘Contributory Negligence’ Laws come into effect when determining liability and the potential for financial damages.]
Never assume a pedestrian accident results in an automatic injury claim for the victim. The details matter significantly, and North Carolina insurance companies and defendants always contest the claim vigorously due to state negligence laws. Always call an experienced and aggressive North Carolina personal injury lawyer for comprehensive representation.
Pedestrian Accidents Resulting In Injury Claims and How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
You hear about accidents involving cars and pedestrians on the news every day. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationsays, there are approximately 17250 car crashes each day in the United States, with an unfortunate percentage of these accidents involving pedestrians.
Our Jacksonville office is located in Onslow County, North Carolina. According to an article posted on January 13, 2019 on the Jacksonville Daily Newswebsite (JDnews.com), motorcycles and pedestrians make up half of Onslow County’s fatal crashes. Our team of personal injury lawyers and legal assistants at Kellum Law Firm’s New Bern office have been helping pedestrian accident victims, and the spouses and surviving family members of those involved in fatal crashes, for many years.
It is always emotionally difficult when we hear about a vehicle accident involving a pedestrian. Clearly pedestrians don’t have the same physical protection that the drivers of cars do, thus their injuries from even relatively minor accidents can be quite severe. So how can these accidents be avoided in the first place?
What You Can Do As A Pedestrian:
Cross the street at a designated crosswalk. In North Carolina, pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections. Even small towns have crosswalks. Bigger towns and cities have traffic lights at major intersections plus many have Walk/ Don’t Walk indicators.
If you are walking or jogging at night, wear some type of reflective clothing or carry a flashlight. Do something/anything to make sure you are visible to motorists especially if you have to walk in the roadway. If you are out walking your dog, make sure it has a reflective collar or some sort of blinking device too.
Some serious pedestrian accidents happen after you have pulled over to the side of the road and gotten out of your vehicle. If you need to pull your vehicle to the side of the road for any reason, make sure you pull it off the road as far as you can. If you are waiting for a tow truck or police officer don’t stand near the road. Traffic speeding down the highway is not always paying attention to what is on the shoulder. Stand as far from the road as possible.
Make sure a driver sees you. Even if you are in a designated crosswalk, a driver may be distracted by something and not see you. Try to make eye contact with the driver so you know he sees you and is going to stop.
What Drivers Can Do
This is stating the obvious, but don’t drive after consuming ANY amount of alcohol. Even one drink slows your reaction time down, you don’t want to be the driver that hits the child chasing his ball into the road.
If the driver in front of you stops, don’t pass him/her without first coming to a stop behind them and adequately surveying the road ahead. You may assume that they are stopped because of an impending turn or that there may be a hazard in front of him/her that you cannot see, such as a pedestrian crossing in front of their vehicle. Always use extreme caution before passing a stopped vehicle.
Slow down in pedestrian areas. Pedestrians can be distracted too. They may be looking at their phone, or just in a hurry to get somewhere and may not be paying attention. So, if you are driving in an area where you can see pedestrians on the sidewalk, or perhaps adjacent a park, or a school, slow down and be on the lookout. And remember to follow the speed limits carefully, particularly around schools where the posted signs indicate lowered speed requirements during school times.
Be patient with older people and people with disabilities. Everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. It can be frustrating when you are at a traffic light that has turned green and there is an older person still crossing the street, but just take a deep breath and pretend it is your grandmother.
If you are a pedestrian that was injured by a vehicle or suffered a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident on the sidewalk, the lawyers at Kellum Law Firm can help. When injured, you may have bills mounting for medical care expenses and your situation may be worsened by an inability to work. Kellum Law Firm has attorneys that are experienced in dealing with pedestrian accidents and all manner of personal injury – contact us today.