Even as we promote walking as a healthy alternative to driving, being a pedestrian is becoming increasingly dangerous. Sometimes, people don’t have a choice and must walk to work or school. The problem of pedestrians being killed or seriously injured on California roadways is only worsening.
Injuries from Pedestrians Being Hit by a Car
A 2017 study of traffic accidents across the state found that your chances of being struck and killed by a car or truck anywhere in California are roughly 2 in 100,000. In fact, 20% of all people killed in traffic accidents in California are pedestrians. This is especially disturbing given that pedestrian accidents are almost always avoidable. Recent crash data shows that the three most common injuries when pedestrians are hit by a car are:
- Injuries to the lower extremities;
- Injuries to the head, face, and neck (not including spinal injury); and
- Injuries to the upper extremities.
These injuries might include bruising, soft tissue damage, broken or fractured bones, sprains, strains, and organ damage. However, when an injury is more severe, it can lead to lifelong consequences.
A serious injury that occurs in pedestrian accidents is spinal cord damage. A spinal cord injury is damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end of the spinal canal. Severe spinal injuries are often life-altering and can result in partial or complete paralysis—or even death. The spine cannot sustain heavy impact, so a spinal cord injury often causes permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the injury site. In general, spinal injuries will require long-term care and rehabilitation.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Another serious injury occurring after a pedestrian accident is a traumatic brain injury or TBI. It’s not commonplace for pedestrians to wear helmets while walking down the street, so the head is especially vulnerable to impact. TBIs occur when the victim’s head impacts the vehicle or roadway during an accident. A mild TBI might result in short-term memory loss, disorientation, and headaches, but a severe TBI could prevent a victim from returning to their normal lives and even earning a living.
Disfiguring Facial Injuries and Scars
Broken glass, impact with the windshield, car’s body, or other hard surfaces could cause facial injuries during a pedestrian accident. People with facial injuries often experience significant pain and scars that may require expensive reconstructive procedures performed by a plastic surgeon. Even with the best possible treatment, a facial scar can affect someone’s appearance for the rest of their lives.
Limb Loss and Amputation
During a pedestrian accident, appendages (like a finger or toe) or extremities (an arm or leg) can be severed or severely damaged enough to require surgical amputation. Limb amputations are generally caused by high-speed accidents where the pedestrian hits the sharp edges of a car’s body. Amputations may also occur at much lower speeds when a part of the vehicle traps a limb during an accident. Limb loss and amputation permanently disable the victim, completely upending the victim’s life.
When a crash forces the body into an object or the body is hit by flying debris, damage to internal organs, like the chest, abdomen, or pelvis, may occur. The misplaced blood puts pressure on other organs and tissue. Depending on the severity and location, it can lead to weakness and dizziness, low blood pressure, organ failure, and death. Internal bleeding in the brain can result in a stroke. Internal bleeding requires emergency medical treatment.
Can I Recover Compensation for My Injuries from Being Hit by a Car?
A pedestrian accident can leave you with extensive injuries and countless questions about whether you have legal recourse. California does allow someone who has sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident to seek compensation if the driver was negligent. The process to get compensation starts with filing an insurance claim with the other driver’s auto insurance company. At this point, it is helpful to retain an attorney to help with your case. Without an attorney, you could receive less than your injuries are worth.
The insurance company and your attorney will investigate the cause of your accident. Generally, you are only entitled to compensation if you prove the person who hit you was negligent.
Negligence is a legal standard that requires a person to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. The responsibility is even greater for a driver because they are operating a potentially deadly vehicle. Failing to act with reasonable care while driving could lead to liability for any accident they cause.
Here are a few examples of driver negligence:
- Texting while driving,
- Failing to yield to pedestrians that have the right-of-way,
- Failing to obey traffics signs or signals, and
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Although pedestrians are not operating vehicles, they are still expected to exercise reasonable care. The second most common cause of pedestrian accidents is improperly crossing the road or intersection. When this happens, the pedestrian may have contributed to the accident. When a pedestrian contributes to an accident, under California law, the pedestrian can still receive compensation, but their percentage of fault lessens the compensation amount.
For example, if a pedestrian is found to be 25% at fault because they improperly crossed an intersection, the other at-fault party pays only 75% of the damages.
A Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help
Determining negligence and the percentage of fault is where a case gets tricky. Our firm can thoroughly evaluate the facts and evidence in your case and work with investigators to establish whether a driver’s negligent behavior caused your pedestrian accident and the potential percentage of fault for each party. The Frederick Law Firm has over 40 years of experience helping injury victims recover compensation for their injuries. We care deeply about the well-being of our clients and assist pedestrian accident victims throughout California’s central coast. Let us fight to get you financial compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.