Distracted Drivers Can Seriously Injure Pedestrians
Electronic devices in a vehicle—and sometimes other people—can divert a driver’s attention away from the road. We often see drivers talking on the phone while driving, listening to loud music, or sending text messages and emails.
Simply put, a distracted driver fails to watch the road attentively. Whenever a driver turns their attention away from the road—even for just a second or two—that may be sufficient time for them to miss seeing a pedestrian or another vehicle in the vicinity, causing a serious accident.
Distracted driving is an unfortunate cause of many motor vehicle crashes today. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving causes approximately 1,100 injuries every day across the United States.
Pedestrians are especially susceptible to serious injuries in distracted driving accidents. That is because, unlike motor vehicle occupants, pedestrians lack a thick metal shell or sturdy outer covering surrounding them in an accident. If a vehicle strikes them and knocks them to the ground, they may suffer extremely serious—and sometimes fatal—injuries. Moreover, they may need extensive medical procedures and physical therapy, all of which can lead to mounting medical bills, missed work time, and other serious consequences.
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident that resulted from distracted driving, you should speak to a knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorney near you right away. Your lawyer can immediately begin investigating the circumstances of your accident, including the accident location and how it likely occurred. Your attorney can then determine your eligibility for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Your lawyer can file a claim with the appropriate insurance company, field settlement offers, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit for monetary damages in court.
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The Potential Dangers of Distracted Driving
Smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other electronic devices have become extremely popular in recent years. However, with the increased popularity of these devices comes an increased risk of pedestrian accidents and injuries.
Smart devices frequently use notifications to alert individuals when they receive a text, instant message, or phone call. When drivers are behind the wheel, they often feel the temptation to check their devices and respond to messages.
Even though this may take only a short period, it can take the driver’s eyes off the road, delaying their reaction time if an emergency situation—such as an abrupt traffic back-up—arises. In fact, current research demonstrates that distracted driving characteristics resemble those that drivers experience when they operate their vehicles while intoxicated.
Those impairments include:
Lack of focus and concentration while driving
Delayed motor reflexes
Delayed reaction time
Whenever a driver fails to watch the road attentively, they may lose control of their vehicle—especially if they are traveling at a high rate of speed or around a sharp curve. Moreover, they may fail to notice a passenger in a marked intersection crosswalk or near the side of the road, negligently causing their vehicle to strike the pedestrian and knock them to the ground. Moreover, they may have trouble stopping their vehicle.
It is not uncommon for distracted drivers to practice other illegal driving maneuvers, including failing to yield the right-of-way to other drivers and pedestrians at the appropriate times, running stop signs and red traffic lights, exceeding the posted speed limit, and failing to avoid roadway hazards.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that resulted from distracted driving, you have legal options that you may be eligible to consider. First, your lawyer can investigate your accident circumstances and, if necessary, retain an accident reconstructionist to determine how your accident likely happened. Your lawyer can then assist you throughout the claims filing and litigation processes.
Since pedestrian accident investigations sometimes take a significant time, it is usually best to retain a pedestrian accident attorney to represent you as soon as possible after your accident.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
Not all distracted driving is exactly the same. In fact, there are three common types of distractions that a driver may experience: manual distractions, visual distractions, and cognitive distractions.
When drivers experience manual distractions, they take their hands completely off the steering wheel. Manual distractions while driving may include drinking, eating, putting on makeup, adjusting the radio, adjusting the dashboard controls, shaving, grooming one’s hair, or attempting to find something in the front passenger seat or backseat.
In addition to manual distractions, drivers sometimes experience cognitive distractions. These distractions do not involve a driver’s hands. However, they divert a driver’s mind away from the road. Cognitive distractions often include talking to someone on the phone—even with a Bluetooth-equipped device—or constant daydreaming. Talking to a passenger is another type of cognitive distraction, as well as road rage, when a driver becomes angry with someone else, usually because they are driving too slowly.
Likewise, some drivers experience visual distractions while behind the wheel. These distractions cause a driver to look at something inside or outside their vehicle besides the road. Common types of visual distractions include browsing the internet or checking emails on a cellular device or tablet. Texting is another common visual distraction, as well as looking at or programming a GPS device. Finally, watching videos and other media while driving is a serious distraction that may completely divert a driver’s attention off the road.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that texting while driving—including reading or sending a text message on an electronic device—takes an average of five seconds. This action is equivalent to driving 55 miles per hour across a football field.
Common Injuries in Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted driving accidents may cause debilitating injuries—especially if they are high-speed collisions. When a large vehicle strikes a pedestrian and knocks them to the ground, they may suffer broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, or a traumatic head and brain injury, such as a concussion.
They may also suffer severe internal organ damage, pelvic injuries, soft tissue contusions, and road rash.
Since every pedestrian accident is different, the injuries that one accident victim suffers may differ from those another accident victim suffers. Factors that influence the types of injuries accident victims sustain include the vehicle involved in the crash, as well as the vehicle speed.
In some instances, pedestrian accident victims suffer permanent injuries. A permanent injury will not improve fully over time and can cause the accident victim pain and other symptoms for the rest of their life. To establish that an injury is permanent, a medical doctor must be willing to state on the record, and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the injury is unlikely to get better with time.
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you should call 9-1-1 from the accident scene or have someone call for you. This will dispatch police and paramedics to the accident scene. When you go to the hospital emergency room, the provider on duty can order the necessary imaging studies, including MRIs, CAT scans, and X-rays, to fully diagnose your medical condition. The provider can then recommend future medical care if you need it.
While you focus your attention on getting the medical treatment you need, a knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorney in your area can start advocating for your legal interests. Your lawyer can begin the process by gathering your medical treatment records and bills to date, along with any wage loss documentation from your employer. Once your medical treatment is complete, your attorney can submit a settlement demand letter and a complete demand package to the insurance company and begin the settlement negotiation process on your behalf.
Common Locations for Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can occur just about anywhere that pedestrians are present. While many pedestrian collisions occur at traffic intersection crosswalks, other possible locations include parking lots, parking garages, bus stops, the side of the road, sidewalks, and along a curb.
Proving That a Distracted Driver Caused Your Accident
In any pedestrian accident claim or lawsuit, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. Specifically, the accident victim must establish that a driver was distracted and that, as a result, they caused the subject accident. Moreover, the accident victim must establish that they suffered at least one injury in the accident and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
One of the most difficult aspects of pedestrian accident claims is proving that the at-fault driver failed to watch the road attentively when the accident happened. However, you can satisfy your legal burden by retaining an accident reconstructionist or another expert to testify in your case. An accident reconstructionist can review police reports, speak with eyewitnesses to the occurrence, visit the accident scene, and prepare a detailed report that they can authenticate on the witness stand at trial.
In addition, you might obtain the at-fault driver’s cell phone records. If the records show that the at-fault driver was talking on the phone, sending a text message, or responding to an email, those records may be useful in proving your case at trial. A knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorney in your area can help you subpoena the at-fault driver’s cell phone records and assert a viable legal claim for distracted driving.
Likewise, you can obtain vehicle data from the at-fault driver’s vehicle. This data may establish that the driver was using a dashboard control, music system, or radio while driving.
You might also obtain social media records that provide an electronic activity trail for the at-fault driver. Your lawyer can use these records to establish that the other driver logged into their social media account while driving—and that they were not watching the road attentively.
Your lawyer can also obtain traffic camera footage or surveillance that shows the driver fiddling with an electronic device and not paying attention to the road.
Police reports and witness statements can also be helpful when it comes to proving distracted driving. For example, an eyewitness to the accident can testify in court that they saw the driver looking down—or to the side—while operating their vehicle. The witness may have also seen the driver sending a text message or talking on their phone without using a hands-free Bluetooth device.
Moreover, in a police report, the responding officer may include information about the at-fault driver’s possible distraction. Your lawyer can then subpoena the responding officer to testify in court about their observations and authenticate the police report they prepared.
Recoverable Damages in Pedestrian Accident Claims and Lawsuits
Victims of serious pedestrian accidents may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. The damages that a pedestrian accident victim recovers will depend upon the severity of the accident and their injuries, the total cost of their medical treatment, and the pain and suffering that they endured.
Common types of damages in pedestrian crash cases include compensation for:
Related medical expenses, both past and future
Loss of earning capacity
Past and future pain and suffering
Mental distress and emotional anguish
Permanent disfigurement or disability
Loss of the ability to use a body part
Loss of life enjoyment
Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
Not all of these damages are available in every pedestrian accident case. However, your lawyer can review your accident circumstances with you and determine which of these damages you can potentially recover in your case.
Between the years of 2006 and 2015, the number of pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents rose from 61,000 to 70,000 (an increase of almost 15 percent).
In 2015, there were more than 5,000 pedestrian fatalities (caused by motor vehicle accidents), which is the largest number of such fatalities since 1996.
Although total traffic fatalities decreased by nearly 18 percent in the years from 2006 to 2015, pedestrian fatalities rose by 12 percent.
In other words, pedestrian accidents are on the rise, and distracted drivers play a significant role in this trend.
It’s established that, as a pedestrian, you’re vulnerable to accidents. If you’ve been injured because of a distracted driver’s negligence, you need legal counsel. These claims are complicated, but your rights and your rightful compensation matter. The dedicated legal team at the Law Offices of Abels and Annes is committed to helping you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
Distracted driving is on the rise and appears to be reaching epidemic proportions. The advent of the great and powerful smartphone seems to be leading the charge. As we rely more and more heavily on our phones, some of us – drivers included – are finding them more and more difficult to put down.
Because distracted driving has become such a momentous problem, the U.S. government has created an entire website that’s devoted to the issue, distraction.gov. Distracted driving is defined as any driving in which the driver’s attention is focused on something other than the all-important task of driving safely. The distractions themselves are divided into three primary classifications:
Distractions that are manual, such as holding your phone in your hand;
Distractions that are visual, such as looking at your phone; and
Distractions that are cognitive, such as reading a text on your phone.
Smartphones, in other words, represent the mother lode when it comes to distractions. When you engage with your smartphone, you employ your eyes, your hands, and your thought processes. When you’re driving, your eyes, your hands, and your thought processes should all be trained on driving safely.
Drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident;
Drivers who dial and drive are 3 times more likely to be involved in an accident; and
Drivers who chat on their phones while driving are nearly 30 percent more likely to be involved in an accident.
As these statistics testify, pedestrians beware!
Staying Safe Out There
As a pedestrian, you are vulnerable to accidents caused by distracted drivers, but there are steps you can take to help yourself stay safe out there:
Look alive when you take to Chicago’s streets on foot – stay alert to the traffic all around you and always follow all posted pedestrian signs, signals, and warnings;
Always cross at marked crosswalks (or other designated pedestrian walkways) whenever they are available;
Remember that crossing with a group – because it’s easier for oncoming traffic to see – is safer than crossing solo;
Wear comfortable, supportive, non-slip footwear to help ensure that you can move swiftly to the other side of the street;
If you must walk after dark, always incorporate a prominent piece of reflective clothing into your attire; and
Don’t walk under the influence of distraction – as a pedestrian you play an important role in keeping yourself safe, and your focus should always be on arriving safely at your destination and not on your smartphone or any other distraction.
As a pedestrian, you are especially vulnerable to serious injury in any accident involving a motor vehicle. Always make the safest choices available to you.
Drivers’ Duty of Care
In Illinois, drivers owe a duty of care to pedestrians, which includes exercising due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian. This does not, however, mean that pedestrians have a free pass to enter any crosswalk whenever they so choose. The law explicitly states that pedestrians can’t suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle. As a pedestrian, the best way to stay safe is to always follow the rules of the road – remember that distracted drivers are out there and that they’re dangerous.
Call an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney in Your Area for Legal Representation Today
If you suffered injuries in a recent pedestrian accident that resulted from distracted driving, time is of the essence. Your lawyer can help you file a prompt claim or lawsuit well within the applicable statutory time period. Your attorney can then assist you during settlement negotiations and, if necessary, represent you at all legal proceedings in court.
The best thing you can do following a pedestrian is to seek medical care and then consult with a personal injury lawyer who can protect your legal rights.
When you head out on foot, you probably don’t give a whole bunch of thought to your safety. After all, you’re not getting behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle – you’re simply taking a walk down the street. As a pedestrian, however, you’re especially vulnerable to the vehicles all around you. When you’re on foot, there’s absolutely nothing to protect you from the impact of an accident. As our roads become more and more crowded and as more and more drivers succumb to driving while distracted, pedestrians face ever more dangers. When you’re hoofing it, always make safety your top priority.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.