Fighting for the Rights of Injured Pedestrians
When most people think of auto accidents, they usually don't think of people walking on foot. But a Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer will tell you that common collisions don't just involve two or more vehicles.
A fair percentage of car accidents only involve one motorist. Further, these types of accidents can often result in substantial damage and horrendous injuries. This is especially true when the accident involves a pedestrian.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, the Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers at Abels & Annes know that you are going through a difficult time. Medical bills are piling up, you're off of work, and you're hurt and in pain. Further, you might be getting calls from an auto insurance company and you don't know what to do.
The good news is that we are here to help. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes have been handling pedestrian accident cases for many years with great success. If you have a case, we are ready and willing to fight for you.
Visiting, working, or socializing in Chicago means walking for short and sometimes long distances among hundreds of cars and trucks traveling throughout the city. If you’ve recently fallen victim as a pedestrian, you are probably still in shock and processing this devastating and traumatic event and overwhelmed thinking about what comes next.
It’s always in your best interest to consult our Chicago pedestrian accident attorneys after suffering an injury at the hands of a negligent driver. Until you get the chance to discuss your case, we have put together the following answers to frequently asked questions about Chicago pedestrian accidents.
How Common Are Illinois Pedestrian Accidents?
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are far from rare. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, in 2012:
- 4,743 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in the United States;
- Pedestrian deaths accounted for 14% of all vehicle crash fatalities;
- 19% of pedestrian deaths were committed by hit-and-run drivers;
- 73% of pedestrian fatalities were in urban areas;
- 30% of fatalities occurred at intersections;
- 15% of pedestrians killed in crashes were 70 years old or older;
- 76,000 pedestrians were injured;
- Of the 76,000 injuries, 14,000 (or 18%) were to children under 15 years old;
- There were 2,943 pedestrian crashes in the City of Chicago alone;
Pedestrians do not only include those walking along city streets, but joggers, skateboarders, and people in wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Pedestrians also include anyone who may be on or near a roadway, such as people crossing the street to visit their neighbors, or children playing on the sidewalk.
What Are Common Causes of Chicago Pedestrian Accidents in Chicago?
Drivers have a duty of care while operating their vehicles that extend to more than just other cars. Drivers must also keep a lookout for the more vulnerable people on the roads, such as motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Here are the main causes:
In order to fully understand how serious pedestrian accidents are and how to prevent them, we also have to understand what causes pedestrian accidents.
Some leading causes of accidents involving pedestrians include:
Turning and merging accidents
A driver making a turn at an intersection or merging into a different lane may not notice a pedestrian in a crosswalk if they are not paying close enough attention. Intersections are one of the most dangerous places for anyone using the roadways. As you drive through an intersection or cross the road at an intersection, you should use extra caution.
Exiting a parking lot or driveway
Parking lots and driveways are another hotspot for pedestrian accidents. Parking lots obviously have a lot of moving pieces, as people pull in and out of spaces and get in and out of their cars heading to their destination. Drivers who fail to look for pedestrians while turning in or out of a parking lot or driveway could seriously injure another person. This common hazard also extends to drivers exiting parking garages or who are pulling away from a curb after they were parallel parked.
Failure to yield
A direct impact from a motorist who fails to stop at a stop sign or yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk can leave the victim with serious injuries that have life-long repercussions. Pedestrian collisions that occur at full speed can also cost a victim a lot more than injuries since they will likely end up with loads of medical debt, lost wages from missed work, and pain and suffering.
Speeding is one of the biggest dangers to pedestrians and other drivers on the road. As a vehicle’s speed increases, it becomes more difficult to stop suddenly. We all need to take a little more responsibility and slow down when we drive. This alone can save others and ourselves a lot of trouble.
An intoxicated driver's reaction time is severely reduced by the alcohol in their system. Drunk drivers are also more likely to be distracted and less likely to be aware of their surroundings. Because of this, drunk drivers are especially dangerous for pedestrians. Anyone who is walking at night or in an area that is known for heavy drinking should use extra caution to help keep themselves safe.
Whether it’s an icy road, or bad visibility from rain or snow, Chicago weather can cause pedestrian accidents. Any one of these weather elements can make it challenging for drivers to spot a pedestrian. Moreover, inclement weather makes it more difficult to stop or maneuver around a pedestrian to avoid a collision.
Delivery truck accidents
Accidents involving delivery trucks and pedestrians usually occur in residential areas. Since delivery drivers are pressed for time, they may be distracted or in a hurry when they pull in or out of their destination. This can be very dangerous for children and adults who are walking on sidewalks, in driveways, or along roadways.
Loading and unloading bus and rail passengers
In Chicago, over 1.5 million people ride the bus or rail every single day. As these passengers exit the bus or train and head to their destination, they can become a prime target for a collision. It’s up to both public transit riders and drivers to be safe and to make sure they are following all laws and ordinances designed to keep everyone safe. Nonetheless, vehicle drivers must be extraordinarily careful around passengers because of the disparity in harm that a pedestrian accident causes.
A distracted driver is a danger to pedestrians and everyone else using the roadways. Motorists that are texting or are distracted in any other way can easily take their eyes off the road long enough to cause serious consequences. The vast majority of day time collisions where a pedestrian was clearly visible were due to distracted driving. In most instances, these accidents are completely avoidable if the driver was being responsible and alert while behind the wheel.
Where do Most Child Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
Motorists need to be especially wary when driving through areas that are likely to have more children present, such as:
- Residential neighborhoods
- School zones
- Shopping areas
- Parks and playgrounds
- Recreational areas
This is critical, as young children are often less aware of their surroundings and of the dangers posed by moving vehicles. Also, it's difficult for drivers to spot kids because of their small stature.
[Learn More: Pedestrian Safety Tips for Kids]
It is also important for parents to educate their children about the dangers of vehicles and roadways. In particular, the dangers inherent in walking through parking lots (such as back-over accidents) and crossing streets. Parents accompanying their young toddlers along roadways should always have them by the hand or carry them, if at all possible.
How Can I Avoid Pedestrian Accidents?
Although it is impossible to account for the actions of those around you, there are several things you can do to help avoid becoming the victim of a pedestrian accident.
Here are several precautions to take to avoid getting hit by a car as a pedestrian:
- Cross the street in designated crosswalks
- Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right
- At stop light intersections, only cross when you have a walk signal
- When crossing the street, be defensive and assume the driver doesn't see you
- Try to make eye contact with the driver so that you know for sure that they see you
- Never cross midblock, especially when traveling on busy urban streets or streets with multiple lanes
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available
- Stay alert at all times. Try to limit distractions on your phone
- Only use one earbud at a time so you don’t lose all sense of hearing
- Don’t try to beat traffic. If you feel like you need to jog or speed up, you are cutting it too close
- Wear bright and reflective clothing at night
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways and parking garages or backing up in parking lots
Knowing what to do after you are hit by a car while on foot is important so that you can preserve your rights and legal options in case you are seriously injured or have other damages.
- Call the police and make a report
- Take down witness information at the scene
- Take photos and video of the accident scene
- Collect as much of your own evidence as possible, including names, police reports, and so on
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible
- Call a pedestrian accident attorney
- Don't speak to an auto insurance company until you've had a consultation with a lawyer
As more and more people turn to either public transportation or walking as an alternative to commuting by car, more pedestrians end up on the public roadways. This is particularly true in urban areas like Chicago, where people often walk from bus stops, “L” stops, or rail stations to their homes or places of employment.
Too frequently, pedestrians are hit by motorists who are too distracted to notice them crossing the street or walking behind a vehicle. And when this happens, it will be the pedestrian, not the motorist, who pays the price.
The pedestrian injury attorneys at Abels & Annes have extensive experience representing those who are injured in this type of accident. We can pursue a personal injury claim on your behalf, or a wrongful death suit on behalf of a loved one who has been killed in a pedestrian accident in Chicago, Cook County, or any other of the surrounding communities.
I felt okay after a driver hit me. Do I need to see a doctor?
Pedestrians have no protection from cars or other vehicles if they are struck. Even if your pain is not that significant, you still need to get checked out by a physician for invisible injuries such as internal bleeding, organ damage, neck and back injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Also, the adrenaline rush from a vehicle striking you likely masked your pain for some time.
If you’re involved in a devastating incident such as being hit by a car, your body will rush with adrenaline to help you process the shock. This can mask your pain for hours or even days. That’s why it’s so important to have a medical professional check you out and run diagnostic tests immediately after an accident.
Seeking medical treatment also means you have documented your injuries in your medical record, which serves as valuable evidence for insurance companies and the court, if necessary.
Any delay that you have in your treatment, even by a single day, can cause insurance companies to try to deny and diminish your claim. Don’t let insurance companies find an excuse to minimize your legitimate injuries. Seek medical attention right away.
How long do I have to take legal action against the driver who hit me?
Illinois law provides a two-year statute of limitations for injured accident victims to file a lawsuit against someone who causes them harm, but the law does allow for some exceptions. If you bring a suit beyond the two-year time-limit, it is highly unlikely a court will hear your case. Further, there are shorter one-year deadlines for certain defendants. Call us now to make sure you preserve your right to compensation
Motorists are most often liable for damages when they strike pedestrians. Yet, sometimes other parties are responsible or share liability with a driver. For example, a construction company could be liable if they knock down a stop sign or a traffic light and fail to make repairs or warn others of the danger, and cause a pedestrian accident.
I was jaywalking. Could I still have a viable Chicago pedestrian accident claim?
Yes. Not using a crosswalk does not immediately disqualify you from seeking damages for your injuries. Drivers have an elevated duty of care towards those with whom they share the road, meaning they must carefully watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Depending on the exact circumstances, the court might reduce your award if they rule in your favor. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can evaluate your case to provide you with a better idea of how your case may play out.
The value of a claim varies from case to case, depending on the underlying facts and circumstances of each event.
One of the biggest factors that will determine how much your pedestrian accident case is worth is the severity of your injuries. Soft tissue damage, back and neck injuries, brain injuries, and fatal accidents will all have a different value because of the different level of medical care required, pain and suffering, and the impact on a victim’s life.
The amount of time you miss from work is also another major component. You are eligible to recover compensation for any time that you were not able to earn income because of your pedestrian accident. This includes time spent recovering and attending healthcare appointments. It may also include future lost wages if your injuries negatively impact your earning potential.
Your attorney will include your medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic losses, as well as losses such as pain and suffering and emotional distress, which are not easily quantified. A general rule of thumb is that the more severe your injuries and losses you’ve suffered, the higher the value of your claim.
Do I have to testify in court?
The vast majority of traffic accident cases, including those involving pedestrians, settle long before going to trial. Yet, sometimes insurance companies refuse to offer full and fair compensation, so settlement is not an option. If this occurs with your case, you may be required to attend court and testify.
Do I need a lawyer for my Chicago pedestrian accident case?
Yes, you will want an attorney fighting for your rights. Lawyers are trained negotiators who typically have intimate knowledge about Illinois court systems, allowing them to better serve their clients. Our experienced Chicago pedestrian lawyers know how to deal with insurance companies, negotiate a better settlement than you would on your own, and protect you from the dubious tactics they use to devalue or deny claims.
Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers typically do not charge an upfront retainer to their clients. Instead, they take clients on a contingent fee basis. This means instead of paying out-of-pocket for up-front attorney fees, your lawyer will instead deduct attorney fees from any compensation he or she secures for you in the form of a settlement or court-awarded damages. Further, there is no fee unless you win your case.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the driver’s insurance carrier?
Insurance companies want to avoid paying out claims. When they know their policyholder is liable for damages, they use every strategy available to pay the least amount possible. This includes making quick offers to injured accident victims who have medical bills piling up while they are unable to work due to their injuries.
Early settlement offers are typically much lower than the value of your claim. Also, when you accept an offer, you sign away your right to bring a lawsuit. It’s in your best interest to consult with our Chicago pedestrian accident attorneys before accepting an offer from the driver’s insurance carrier.
How long will it take to resolve my Chicago pedestrian accident claim?
Each case is different. Cases involving clear liability may take less time. Other factors that affect the timeline include the availability of eyewitnesses and experts to testify and the extent to which the insurance company and defense are cooperating with your Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer. Further, big injury and high value cases typically take longer to resolve if there is a significant insurance policy to pursue. Finally, an injury lawyer will typically not want to settle your case if you are still undergoing medical treatment. This is because it makes no sense to settle when the value of your claim is still increasing.
What types of compensation can I receive if I prevail in a Chicago pedestrian accident lawsuit?
If you reach a settlement or the court rules in your favor, you can receive compensation for losses related to your pedestrian accident and injuries, including:
- Medical treatment costs
- Lost wages
- Estimated future medical treatment costs
- Estimated future lost wages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- And more
A Chicago pedestrian accident is a life-altering event when victims suffer severe injuries. Contact an experienced Chicago pedestrian accident attorney today who can help you get the compensation you deserve.
If you or someone close to you has suffered an accident as a pedestrian, visit our firm for a free, no-obligation consultation. These can be very complex cases, and hiring a law firm familiar with the issues involved in pedestrian accidents in the Chicago area is your best option for obtaining the compensation you deserve.
Our Chicago pedestrian accident lawyers have a proven track record of success in litigating personal injury and wrongful death claims on behalf of clients and families living with the tragedy of a serious or fatal accident.
Contact Abels & Annes, P.C., toll-free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO, or locally in Chicago at (312) 924-7575, or use the form here on this website. At Abels & Annes, we stand on our record of success.
- Pedestrian Safety Tips for Kids
- Crosswalk Accidents Involving Pedestrians
- Hit-and-Run Accidents Involving Pedestrians
- Pedestrian Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers
- Pedestrian Accidents Caused by Stop Light Violations