The COVID-19 pandemic had far more impacts on our daily lives, and these effects are becoming apparent over time. One unexpected consequence of the pandemic was more dangerous roads. Observers expected the exact opposite effect. They had thought that fewer cars on the road would make things safer for other drivers and pedestrians, but the opposite occurred.
Now, pedestrian fatalities have climbed steadily with no limit in sight. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you might be entitled to financial compensation. First, you should contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney.
Pedestrian fatalities were already at multi-year highs before the pandemic. The number of people killed in pedestrian accidents increased even more after the start of COVID-19. While the prevailing initial thought was that fewer vehicles on the road might make things safer, the opposite has happened. People feel bold enough to act far more dangerously, raising the risks for everyone in the vicinity.
Drivers Are Taking Advantage of Less Traffic to Drive Riskier
Fewer cars in traffic have given drivers far more room to take unsafe and reckless driving habits to whole new levels. With less traffic, they have more room to weave in and out of traffic and speed. Police officers hesitated to enforce traffic laws for many months after the pandemic’s start, afraid to interact directly with motorists out of fear of getting COVID. The results were the typical actions and chances that people take when they think that someone is not watching or that they can get away with it.
Experts were initially shocked that the rate of serious accidents increased during the pandemic. In general, reckless driving had been on a steady increase. Without moralizing, civility in society has decreased in the 21st century. People are far less likely to follow societal norms, such as safe driving. People have taken the attitude that they will do what they want to do, regardless of the dangers for other people.
The situation took a turn for the worse at the beginning of COVID. The stress of the pandemic, combined with more freedom and less law enforcement, caused drivers to throw caution to the wind. Area drivers have reported far more incidents involving reckless drivers than in the past.
Pedestrian Accident Rates Have Skyrocketed
The numbers show that pedestrian fatalities rose 5 percent in 2020 to approximately 6700 people killed in these accidents. On the surface, this does not seem like a large increase.
However, two factors make this number far worse than it appears:
- The number of vehicle miles traveled in 2020 dropped as people complied with stay-at-home orders. Based on vehicle miles traveled, the fatality rate in 2020 actually increased by 21 percent.
- The 2019 number of pedestrian fatalities was already elevated, and the jump moved fatalities to a rate not seen in decades.
Although the 2021 statistics are not completely compiled as of this writing, the problem has continued to grow worse. States that tabulated data for the first nine months of 2021 showed the fatality rate growing even worse.
Why Pedestrian Accident Fatalities Are Increasing
Pedestrian fatalities had made a steady drop before bottoming out in 2008. Since then, they have been on a steady climb upward.
There are many reasons why pedestrian fatalities have risen sharply in the last decade or so, including:
- Every driver has a cell phone, and many of them use phones when they are behind the wheel, causing them not to see pedestrians.
- More people have moved into cities for urban living. They ditched their cars and started walking more. The increase in pedestrians caused more pedestrian fatalities.
- Cars are bigger, and the larger size means more of a chance that a pedestrian accident can be fatal.
- Temperatures have risen in the past decade, and more unseasonably warm weather leads to more people out walking.
- Motorists’ driving habits have gotten far worse, beyond just an increase in distracted driving.
- Tougher drunk driving laws have not been fully effective in cutting down on the number of accidents.
- More drivers are taking advantage of increased power in their cars in misguided and reckless attempts to race other drivers.
- Drivers are becoming increasingly reliant on safety features that keep them from crashing into other vehicles and are not focusing on pedestrian safety as much.
American automakers have stopped making most sedans in their entirety. Now, the emphasis is on size and speed to meet what Detroit thinks meets consumer tastes. This is great for the driver and the carmaker, but it is less so for pedestrians who get hit. Car manufacturers might be improving driver safety, but it comes at a cost for pedestrians.
Police Officers Do Not Strongly Enforce Reckless Driving Laws
In addition, law enforcement efforts to catch reckless drivers have been inconsistent and sometimes non-existent. There are accounts from across the country of witnesses who have seen reckless behavior daily, with no police officers pulling drivers over to stop it. Now that the pandemic is winding down and normal life is returning more, there is a hope that police officers will get far more serious about pulling over-aggressive drivers.
Pedestrians are also at risk because of a breakdown in societal order. While they are the law, things like stopping for pedestrians are also an aspect of human courtesy and safety. There is less regard for safety, and people have become more inclined to take care of themselves first. Drivers view the few seconds it takes to slow down and stop for a pedestrian as an inconvenience. In many ways, recklessness and selfishness go hand-in-hand and are increasing on our roads.
The Pandemic Has Caused Changes in Drivers’ Behavior
From a pandemic perspective, social isolation left people with a greater challenge in gauging risks. Personal conduct worsened because there were fewer social guardrails to keep people behaving properly. People also took on an “anything goes” attitude because fear of the virus overtook all else. Others looked at the pandemic as a suspension of overall societal rules.
Further, since the pandemic began drivers are stressed and frustrated with some of the changes in the overall world and their lives. Some may take out their frustrations behind the wheel, resulting in aggressive and inconsistent driving.
Government Steps to Improve Safety Were Not Enough
Some municipalities and governments are trying to make things safer for pedestrians through enhanced technology at crosswalks. They focus on pedestrian safety through engineering to make it easier for pedestrians to cross safely. However, these measures are often not enough to alleviate the fact that many dangerous intersections are death traps for pedestrians. The pedestrian safety measures they take are often cosmetic drops in the bucket.
The real problem is with drivers’ behavior. The government can increase enforcement against reckless driving to help protect pedestrians. However, these stepped-up enforcement campaigns have yet to happen.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries Cause Life-Changing Impacts
Many news stories focus on the increase in fatalities resulting from pedestrian accidents. Those who survive these accidents also have serious injuries that may cause long-term effects for the rest of their lives. Many never recover from pedestrian accidents, and they will never live the same life again.
Serious pedestrian accident injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Severe cuts and lacerations
TBIs and spinal cord injuries may never heal, causing permanent disruptions. The accident victim can be subject to a lifetime of pain, inconvenience, and anxiety. While focusing on pedestrian accident fatalities, many overlook that there are accident survivors with their lives forever altered due to severe injuries.
You May Obtain Financial Compensation After a Pedestrian Accident
If your loved one died in a pedestrian accident, your family is legally entitled to financial compensation if you can prove that the driver was negligent. In a wrongful death claim, you must first prove what happened before you can discuss actual compensation. Your attorney will gather evidence that can show that the driver’s mistake or recklessness was responsible for the crash. You may have to overcome attempts to blame the accident on you or your injured family member.
Wrongful death damages in a pedestrian accident should pay your family back for the losses they suffered when their loved one died at someone else’s hands.
These damages will include:
- The lost wages that your loved one would have earned had they lived and continued working
- Your family’s grief and trauma from the sudden loss of a loved one
- Payment for the loss of the love, support, and guidance from your family member
- Loss of consortium damages for the spouse
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you are legally entitled to full and fair compensation when the accident was someone else’s fault.
Pedestrian accident damages include:
- The complete cost of all medical bills
- Lost wages for time missed from your job or only earning less money than you otherwise would have
- Pain and suffering for physical discomfort, anxiety, and depression from the accident
- Payment for permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If your loved one died in a pedestrian accident, you might recover both wrongful death and the personal injury damages described above if time passed between the accident and your loved one’s death. The law allows an estate to bring a survival action, where the beneficiaries can recover the damages that their loved one suffered before they died.
These damages come in addition to wrongful death damages. Family members divide the proceeds of the survival action according to the terms of the estate, as opposed to how the law allocates wrongful death damages.
How to Maximize Your Pedestrian Accident Financial Compensation
Financial compensation for pedestrian accidents can skyrocket. A pedestrian accident without serious damages is a rarity. The higher the speed at which the vehicle is traveling, the more likely the accident will be fatal. It is essential to secure enough financial compensation to fully pay for all the damages suffered.
Regardless of how dangerously the motorist drove, insurance companies will make it difficult for you and your family to get the money you legally deserve after a pedestrian accident. In any pedestrian accident case, you need a lawyer to look out for and fight for your interests. Otherwise, you will be a victim a second time. This time will be to the insurance company looking out for its interests.
In any pedestrian accident case, you have two ways to secure financial compensation for your injuries:
- You can file a claim against the responsible driver’s insurance policy
- You can file a lawsuit in court against the responsible driver
Either way, you will likely deal with the driver’s insurance company as you fight for financial compensation. It almost always takes an intensive negotiation to settle your case because the insurance company makes getting your money very difficult. You may even need to take your case to trial in court (although personal injury trials are very rare as most cases will settle).
Even cases with very clear-cut liability require effort because proving someone responsible is only part of your legal battle. Often, the real fight is getting enough money. Hiring an experienced attorney who will stand up and fight for you is the best way to put yourself in a position to get the damages that you deserve.
As much as you might watch for reckless drivers while walking, they can come out of nowhere and cause injuries before you know what happened. Then, you face a long physical recovery and financial stress. Let your doctors handle your physical treatment, and hire a pedestrian accident attorney to handle your injury claim and seek financial recovery for you.
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