Pedestrian Accidents That Result in a Wrongful Death Claim

June 3, 2021 | David Abels
Pedestrian Accidents That Result in a Wrongful Death Claim In recent years, the city of Phoenix has been taking steps to become a more walkable city. The idea is to make the city safer for pedestrians and bicyclists so that we can cut down on the number of injuries and deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents. While there are certain areas in Phoenix that have already taken steps to make the city safer for walkers, fatal pedestrian accidents still happen and still ravage families. Driver negligence is one of the main contributors of Arizona making the 2019 list of the top five deadliest states for pedestrians. If your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Although no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one, it can help remove some of the strain that comes along with the medical bills, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional trauma associated with losing a family member.

Causes of Pedestrian Deaths

Pedestrian fatalities often happen when a person who is walking is struck by a motor vehicle either because the driver did not see them or saw them too late. This can include being run over or struck by a car, hit by a motorcyclist, or hit by an object that a driver has displaced during a collision. Although all these are possible, the most common type of pedestrian accident (and the one that leads to the most deaths) is related to a pedestrian being struck directly by a car that did not see them. The average vehicle weighs over 4,000 pounds, so it is no surprise that most pedestrians need immediate medical attention for a fighting chance to recover. What initially appears as abdominal pain, nausea, and shortness of breath may actually be signs of internal injuries. Organs can be crushed by the force of an accident or punctured by a broken bone, which can lead to major blood loss. If onlookers or other parties to the accident don’t act fast, these kinds of injuries quickly turn fatal.

What Factors Put Pedestrians at the Highest Risk of Death?

  • Drivers or pedestrians that are impaired by alcohol or drugs. About 47% of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death involved alcohol.
  • Older adults and children. Pedestrians aged 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths. Likewise, one in five children killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
  • Speeding vehicles
  • Crossing at non-intersections
  • Distracted drivers
  • Crossing at night
  • Commuting on foot in a crowded urban area
*Stats from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Injuries That Lead to Pedestrian Death

When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle and sustains fatal injuries, they may die immediately at the accident scene or succumb to their injuries later at the hospital. Some of the most common types of injuries that cause pedestrian deaths include:

Internal Injuries

When internal injuries occur, irreparable damage to the organs and severe blood loss can happen quickly. Depending on the severity of the injury, the affected pedestrian could pass away in just five minutes or in a matter of days because of internal injuries caused by being struck by a motor vehicle.

Spinal Cord Injuries

When the spinal cord is severely damaged, it can cause a person to die immediately as the nerves to the brain are severed. However, not all pedestrians who sustain spinal cord injuries pass away immediately after an accident. Nonetheless, serious spinal cord injuries reduce life expectancy. They make patients more vulnerable to conditions like pneumonia, osteoporosis, and pulmonary embolisms, all of which can be grounds for a wrongful death claim.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

In a pedestrian accident, a severe brain injury is likely since the person being struck has no protection against the heaviness and hardness of the car striking them. When a pedestrian is hit by a car, their head may make direct contact with the vehicle, hit the pavement, or get jolted around the skull enough that it causes irreparable damage. Just the force of being thrust by a vehicle is enough to lead to swelling, fluid build up, and nerve damage in the brain, all of which can cause the victim to die on the spot or later in the hospital.

Common Causes of Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Crashes

Pedestrians can be hit and killed by vehicles in an endless amount of scenarios. But there are some common causes of pedestrian accidents that are more likely to lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. These include:

Drunk Driving

Every day in the United States, drunk drivers claim the lives of 29 people. Some of these victims are pedestrians. When a pedestrian is crossing the street, they are almost always careful to watch for cars and to make sure it is their turn to cross. When a driver is drunk, they may not notice a red light or stop sign and end up hitting a pedestrian without their being able to act defensively.

Distracted Driving

Drivers who are on their phones, applying make-up, eating, or otherwise not paying attention to the road, are a serious risk to pedestrians and to everyone else around them. Since a distracted driver is not watching where they are going, it’s not hard to imagine how they can end up hitting an unsuspecting pedestrian.


It is obvious that a speeding driver is more likely to be involved in an accident with another car or pedestrian than someone who is traveling at the speed limit. Drivers who are speeding have less opportunity to see pedestrians around them and less time to come to a complete stop. The faster a driver is travelling, the more likely they are to kill a pedestrian due to a decreased stopping capability and a greater force. The average risk of death at an impact speed of 23 MPH is 10%. At 50 MPH, the average risk of death jumps to 75%.

Lack of Visibility and Unexpected Crossings

Pedestrians that cross the road at night or cross the road in an area that was not designed for pedestrian crossing are more likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle. Because of this, pedestrians moving around at night should always wear light colors, carry a flashlight if possible, and always cross at designated intersections.

Places Where Pedestrian Deaths Commonly Occur

A quarter of pedestrian deaths occur at intersections. Intersection accidents often happen when impatient drivers do not observe traffic signals or when drivers do not look before making a turn. Pedestrian collisions also frequently happen in parking lots and parking garages, since there is a high concentration of pedestrians and cars. And finally, urban areas where there are lots of people coming and going are more dangerous for pedestrians. For example, downtown Phoenix tends to have more foot traffic than other parts of the city. Pedestrian traffic increases the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car.

Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

According to Arizona law, several types of survivors are eligible to make a wrongful death claim. Those parties include:
  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Legal guardian
Alternatively, survivors can allow a legal representative to file and oversee a wrongful death claim on their behalf.

What Compensation Can I Get for a Pedestrian Wrongful Death Case?

If your loved one was hit and killed as a pedestrian and the case fits the parameters of a wrongful death, you may be able to recover compensation for any damages you incurred. This compensation may include:
  • Medical bills for the deceased before their passing
  • Lost income due to the loved one passing away
  • Funeral costs expenses
  • Lost medical benefits
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Any other reasonable damages

Hiring a Lawyer for a Pedestrian Wrongful Death Case

If you’re a surviving family member of a loved one who was hit and killed whether on foot or in a vehicle, hiring a lawyer for your wrongful death case can help you through this difficult time. The attorneys at Abels & Annes are passionate about getting justice for families who’ve been affected by a wrongful death. We are dedicated to proving your claim and collecting the highest available compensation for you. For a free initial consultation, call us at 855-749-5299 or contact us online.
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David Abels


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.

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