Any average person walking the streets can find themselves the victim of being struck by an automobile. It can happen anywhere in the world, and unfortunately, that includes Utah. Every year, 30 people are killed by being struck by a car, with an additional 800 injured and in need of hospitalization and emergency care. It is a terrifying outcome, one that can be avoided by following a few simple guidelines and being aware of your surroundings. It can be a scary prospect, that some driver out there could end up hitting and killing you or a loved one for reasons beyond your control, which is why you should contact our group of experienced automobile lawyers if you or a loved one find yourselves the victim of one of these unfortunate pedestrian accidents.
The Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
It’s no secret that, we, as a society, suffer from information overload, of being assaulted by a litany of distractions that never seem to cease, and that the most persistent distractions come from the rectangular screens we carry in our pockets all day long, beckoning for our attention. Your attention span is finite, however, and you need as much of that attention as you can muster when you’re driving a car. Your automobile can quite literally be a dangerous weapon when handled improperly or without focus. Your cell phone might even be the least of your distractions when driving. Boisterous passengers, adjusting your radio or car’s settings, eating while driving, or even grooming yourself, brushing your hair, or putting on your makeup for the day, can all lead your attention from the road just long enough to make the biggest mistake of your life. Speeding ends up being one of the biggest causes of pedestrian accidents. It might be a simple, easy-to-grasp concept, but the faster you are driving your automobile when and if you strike a pedestrian, the much higher the risk of death occurs, with speeds of 60 mph and over guaranteeing death if an accident does occur. Finally, backing up is a major cause of pedestrian accidents, most specifically and most morbidly in children. This commonly occurs in suburban areas, when a person backing out of their driveway might not stop, take the extra few seconds to survey their surroundings, and make sure any children nearby are a safe distance away.
Must-Know Utah Laws Regarding Pedestrians
It’s important to know the rules and ways to conduct yourself when you are driving in a pedestrian-heavy area, so as to keep everyone safe and to follow the law in Utah. At marked and unmarked crosswalks or walkways, pedestrians will always have the right-of-way. Walkers may cross the street in any location unless specified otherwise. If a walker is crossing the street not using a crosswalk, they must generally yield to oncoming traffic themselves. The pedestrian is always the priority. Under Utah law, it is stressed that the driver must be the party who takes the most due diligence in avoiding an accident, even when the pedestrian may not be following their proper course of conduct. Ultimately, the driver must be the party to carry the most responsibility in the situation, since they are the ones who could ultimately cause the accident.
Where Pedestrian Accidents Occur Most Often
Pedestrian accidents occur often in suburban areas when they involve children, generally in driveways or a neighborhood subdivision. They are also quite likely to occur in urban areas and cities, places with large populations. Areas and streets in cities that are non-intersections happen to be where most pedestrian accidents occur. It was found that, in 70% of cases involving the deaths of pedestrians while they were running, jogging, or walking, the accidents were caused by automobiles. These incidents seemed to occur mostly at night as well, between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and when weather conditions were surprisingly clear. While those driving should still take responsibility for the situation more than anyone else involved, it is also the duty of pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings and to think clearly when crossing the roads in heavily trafficked areas.
When is a Driver At Fault for an Accident and When is a Pedestrian?
Often, pedestrians are determined to be liable in accidents more than drivers, usually by running out into an intersection without looking where they are going. Legally, they are determined at-fault if they are hit by an automobile after they cross a street while the “Do Not Cross” signal is going. Pedestrians may be at fault in other situations as well, such as when walking on a highway or freeway, places generally accepted to not be meant for pedestrian crossing. The driver is at-fault in almost every other scenario. Hitting a pedestrian after making a turn, drifting from the road, backing their car up, or merging is always the fault of the driver. Additionally, a driver may be charged with a hit-and-run if a pedestrian is struck and the driver refuses to stop or contact the police, even if the pedestrian is the party responsible in the incident.
Legal Options For A Pedestrian After A Utah Accident
When a pedestrian is struck by a car, their primary legal claim will probably be against the driver of the car that hit them. However, depending on the circumstances of the accident, he or she may be able to also file a claim against the municipality or city where the crash took place if unsafe roads or traffic control devices such as traffic lights or signs contributed to the incident. After providing some preliminary information, we are going to discuss both of these potential claims in a bit more depth.
Immediately Following the Accident
If you are harmed in kind of car crash, you should always contact the police, document the scene of the accident as well as the vehicle that hit you, take down the names of witnesses, and contact your insurance provider.
Receiving Medical Treatment
If you are in pain after being struck by a motor vehicle, you should always seek immediate medical attention. If the pain is particularly severe, you may even need to take a trip to the emergency room. Whatever the case, you should seek your primary care provider as soon as you can following a crash. You shouldn’t wait. Insurance adjusters — as well as the court — will often assume that if you did not seek immediate medical help after the incident, you were not seriously injured. Because of this, it is important for your health, as well as your legal rights, to receive proper medical help and get all sustained injuries and medical treatment documented in your medical records.
Who Pays For Your Medical Expenses?
In the state of Utah, who pays for your immediate medical bills following a vehicle accident will be your insurance company through your no-fault insurance coverage. No-fault states, such as Utah, require that all drivers maintain no-fault coverage through their auto insurance provider so that, in the event of an accident, they will be able to have their treatment covered up to the limit set on the policy. If the injured party decides to file suit against the at-fault party, and he or she wins their suit, this money will be repaid to the insurer.
Filing an Injury Claim Against the Driver
When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the driver of the car that struck the pedestrian is often however, not always considered to be responsible for the incident, even in the case that the pedestrian was not using a designated crosswalk. This is because the negligence and traffic laws in Utah require that drivers pay attention to their surroundings and heed hazards on the roadway. A pedestrian would definitely qualify as a roadway hazard. Essentially, other motorists have a legal duty to see and avoid hazards on the road and provide for the safety of others. If a driver hits a pedestrian using a crosswalk, the crash will almost always be the fault of the driver. A driver who strikes a pedestrian in a crosswalk will have next to no chance of avoiding responsibility. Even if the pedestrian was not using a designated crosswalk when he or she was struck, the pedestrian will still likely have a strong chance of winning the case as long as he or she was paying proper attention to the roadway and not simply run out into the road leading up to the accident. However, a pedestrian does not have the right to go into the street and have cars stop for him or her if the pedestrian is not using a designated crosswalk. In the state of Utah, jaywalking is illegal. The pedestrian is required to use common sense. If a pedestrian crosses the street other than in a marked crosswalk and was not paying proper attention or using common sense, the pedestrian is likely to lose their case against the driver.
Filing a Claim Against the Local Municipality
Certain auto-pedestrian accidents may be found to be the fault of the city or township due to the layout of a street or because of inadequate traffic control devices such as traffic lights or stop signs. A broken traffic light would be a fairly obvious example. If, for some reason, both the pedestrian and the oncoming vehicle have green lights, and the pedestrian crosses the street without seeing that the oncoming vehicle also has a green light, then a negligence claim against the city could be possible. However, if the pedestrian sees that the oncoming vehicle also had a green light and still chose to cross, then he or she would not have a strong chance of having a successful case against the city. A poorly located crosswalk could also be another example of municipal negligence. Imagine that there is a crosswalk located right past a curve on a busy roadway and that there is no street sign to alert oncoming vehicles that a crosswalk is located just beyond the curve. This is an example of poor municipal planning, and it would be deemed a safety hazard. Drivers would come barreling over the curve without knowing there is a designated crosswalk coming up very shortly.
Pedestrian accidents are on the rise in the state of Utah, with a marked 15 percent increase from 2010 to 2011. Out of 866 pedestrians who were hit by a motor vehicle, 770 were injured while 32 were killed. Pedestrians are vulnerable to being injured in these vehicles due to lack of safety mechanisms in place and their disadvantage in size when compared to even a smaller passenger vehicle. Whatever the case, pedestrians may be eligible to regain lost compensation and recover after a terrible crash by contacting an experienced Salt Lake City pedestrian injury attorney. Drivers and motorists not only have a responsibility to yield for pedestrians in crosswalks, but also on sidewalks, in parking lots, and any other locations frequently occupied by both vehicles and pedestrians. Vehicles should do their best when yielding to come to a complete stop so that they may allow any and all pedestrians to safely cross the road without being injured. Drivers should be as diligent as possible by keeping an eye out for pedestrians suddenly appearing near their vehicle, especially in their blind spots. Unfortunately, automobile accidents involving pedestrians commonly cause long term injuries, even death. Here are some of the most common pedestrian accident injuries:
• Broken or fractured bones
• Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s)
• Bruises, contusions, cuts, and scrapes
• Hematomas and/or hemorrhages
• Torn, sprained ligaments and muscles
Pedestrian Accident Statistics: Salt Lake City, Ogden,
According to statistics released by the Utah Department of Health, over 30 pedestrians are killed each year in Utah and just fewer than 800 are injured in collisions involving motor vehicles. Below are a few of the major contributing factors behind pedestrian accidents:
• Distracted drivers
• Pedestrians unaware of their surroundings
• Drug or alcohol use
• Disregard of traffic signs or signals
• Cell phone use or loud music
• Failure to properly yield
• Walking on the incorrect side of the road
How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents
When you’re a driver, there are things that you can do to avoid a pedestrian accident. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
• Slow Down in Pedestrian Areas: Taking it slow when you see pedestrians can give you extra time to react. Pedestrians can be unpredictable. Even a fraction of a second can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding a pedestrian accident. Taking it slow can give you extra time to spot and respond to pedestrians in your path.
• Be Patient With Seniors and People With Challenges: A senior might need extra time to cross the street. They also may have difficulty seeing you. A person that’s blind might also require extra time and care. If you drive an electric car, it may be hard for a blind person to hear your vehicle. Leaving extra distance and time can help those with special circumstances stay safe on the roads.
• Look for Eye Contact: Pedestrians want to know that you’ve seen them before they cross the street. Looking to make eye contact with pedestrians can help you all communicate with each other about who’s going where on the roads. Making eye contact with each other can help you all have clear expectations and avoid confusion that can result in tragedy.
• Observe School Bus Rules and School Crossing Signs: There are special rules for drivers near school buses and in school zones because kids don’t always think to look both ways or avoid darting into a busy street. When a school crossing guard gives you a command, make sure you follow it. Likewise, school buses can be hard to see around, and you should never take the chance of disregarding a school bus stop sign.
• Don’t Make Assumptions If the Car in Front of You Stops: If the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly, it can be tempting to try and quickly drive around them. That’s a mistake because there might be a pedestrian in front of the first vehicle. You should leave enough following distance to be able to stop when the car in front of you stops. Trying to dart around traffic can result in disaster.
• Take the Weather Into Account: You can’t always stay home when the weather gets bad. Pedestrians can’t always stay home either. Be sure to leave extra time and following distance in adverse weather conditions. Giving yourself additional time to stop can be what you need to make sure that you’re able to adjust if your car acts in unpredictable ways because of the weather.
• Don’t Drive Under the Influence: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs reduces your reaction time. Pedestrians don’t know if drivers are under the influence. When you drive under the influence, you put yourself at risk as well as endanger the pedestrians and other drivers around you. Making sure you drive sober is not only what’s safe, but it’s also what the law requires. Injuring a pedestrian while you’re drunk driving results in serious penalties including the real possibility of significant time in prison.
Pedestrians can also take extra steps to avoid an accident. Here are a few tips to consider.
• Stick to Designated Crossing Areas: When you’re on foot, your best bet is to stick to designated pedestrian crossing areas. These areas have traffic control devices that allow you to cross safely.
• Don’t Expect Drivers to See You: Unfortunately, drivers don’t always pay attention as they should. They may even be under the influence. Your best bet is to make sure traffic stops before you cross an intersection even when you have the right of way.
• Look around Stopped Vehicles: The vehicle in front of you might see you and stop. While the car behind that should stop too, they might try to drive around the first vehicle quickly. Be careful of this possibility, and look for any additional vehicles as you continue through a crosswalk. Even if you’re moving around parked cars, it’s worth the extra look to make sure there aren’t other cars around you.
• Move Far Away If You Must Stop Your Car on a Street: Some of the most serious pedestrian accidents occur when drivers stop their vehicles on the side of a highway. Other drivers continue to travel at a high rate of speed, and they may not always be paying attention to what’s on the shoulder of the road. If you must stop your vehicle on the side of the road, make sure you leave as much space as possible between you and the roadway. Don’t stand right by the road. Leaving extra space between you and the street can give you and drivers the additional time to avoid an accident.
Determining Fault After an Accident
When a pedestrian accident occurs, it might be the driver’s fault, the pedestrian’s fault or the parties might share fault. Even if you’re partially to blame, you may still be able to bring a claim for your damages. An experienced attorney can help you examine the evidence to determine fault and evaluate your options for recovery.
Whether you’re driving or on foot, it’s important to stay safe on the roads. Slowing down and taking time to look can help you avoid an accident and potentially severe injuries. For those who have been injured in a pedestrian accident, it’s essential to contact a qualified law firm to discuss your case.
Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
When you need legal help with a pedestiran accident in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506