Risky Driving Since the PandemicSince far more people now work from home—or in a hybrid work environment—there are far fewer vehicles on roads post-COVID. However, with less traffic, many drivers have decided to take advantage of the situation and drive recklessly. Moreover, in the months right after the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, many police officers were afraid to crack down on aggressive and reckless driving, fearing that they might become infected themselves if they stopped too many vehicles. Reckless driving maneuvers that many drivers exhibit include speed violations, aggressive driving, tailgating, and road rage. Road rage happens when a driver reacts inappropriately to a real or imagined roadway scenario that arises. For example, if another driver operates their vehicle too slowly, the first driver may become enraged, begin honking their horn, and drive aggressively. Consequently, the enraged driver might inadvertently cause an accident that leads to serious injuries—and sometimes fatalities. In general, although it was unexpected, the pandemic has increased—rather than decreased—the number of reckless drivers on area roadways.
Skyrocketing Pedestrian Accident RatesPedestrian accident rates have skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics show that pedestrian accident fatalities increased by approximately 5 percent in 2020. Considering that increase, nearly 6,700 people lost their lives in pedestrian crashes. Although this number may not seem exceptionally high, several factors make this statistic far worse. First, the number of miles vehicles traveled back in 2020 decreased significantly since many people followed government-imposed stay-at-home orders. Moreover, when you look at the number of miles that vehicles traveled in 2020, the pedestrian accident fatality rate actually went up 21 percent. These unfortunate statistics show that reckless driving is actually becoming a far worse problem than ever before. There are several reasons why pedestrian fatalities have seen a steady increase in recent years. Some of those reasons include:
- Almost every driver has a cellular phone or smartphone, often distracting them from their primary duty of watching the road—and keeping them from seeing pedestrians and other vehicles.
- Many individuals have moved from the suburbs into cities and gotten rid of their cars, leading to a higher number of pedestrians.
- Many newer cars are far bigger than in previous years, increasing the chances of a fatality when a high-speed pedestrian accident occurs.
- Temperatures have steadily increased over the past ten years, leading to more pedestrians out and about on a regular basis.
- With the advent of newer safety features and technology in vehicles, drivers rely too much on those devices rather than using their eyes and ears.
People’s Changing AttitudesIt is also worth mentioning that many people’s attitudes have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These attitudes sometimes reflect in drivers’ actions and inactions. Since the pandemic began, many people have felt isolated and had more difficulty gauging risk. They also took on a more careless attitude, fearing the COVID-19 virus and becoming more reckless. Given their frustration with the pandemic, as well as major worldwide changes that were taking place, many individuals took their frustrations out while driving, causing an increase in reckless drivers and also pedestrian accidents.
Injuries That Pedestrian Accident Victims SufferCompared to motor vehicle drivers and passengers, pedestrians have very limited protection in an accident. Unlike vehicle occupants, pedestrians do not have an outer covering or shell that surrounds them when a vehicle hits them. In fact, they are directly exposed to the ground, and if a high-speed vehicle strikes them, they may fall and suffer serious injuries—some of which may be fatal. Even when a pedestrian does not suffer fatal injuries, they may still experience injuries that cause permanent effects. Sometimes, a pedestrian’s life may never be the same, as they may need to use a wheelchair or reside in an assisted living facility for the rest of their life. Some of the most common injuries that pedestrian accident victims suffer include internal organ injuries, bone fractures, severe lacerations and cuts, spinal cord injuries, paralysis injuries, and traumatic head injuries, including concussions. A permanent injury does not fully improve over time and can cause the accident victim to experience lifelong symptoms. To establish that a particular injury is permanent, a medical provider must be willing to state on the record, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the accident victim will not likely recover. The most common permanent injuries include spinal cord damage and traumatic head injuries. In many instances, these injuries never get better and cause accident victims to experience permanent disruptions in their life. As soon as possible after a pedestrian accident, you should follow up at a hospital emergency room or local urgent care center. You should seek this treatment even if you are not experiencing any major symptoms at that time. This is because many injuries, including traumatic head injuries, are not always symptomatic right away. It might take days or even weeks for symptoms to manifest, and your injury may become significantly worse in the meantime. When you seek prompt medical treatment after an accident, you also show the insurance company that your injuries are serious and worthy of monetary compensation. Also, when you follow up at a local emergency room, the medical provider on duty can order the necessary CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs, so that they can render an accurate medical diagnosis. If you need to undergo a surgical procedure, the provider can arrange for that. Finally, if you will likely require follow-up medical treatment, the provider can make the necessary recommendations. For instance, you may need to see your primary care doctor or follow up with a neurologist, orthopedist, or another medical specialist. While you focus on recovering from your pedestrian-accident injuries, your lawyer can start advocating for you. Specifically, your attorney may begin gathering your medical treatment records and bills to date, along with lost wage documentation from your employer and investigation documents. Once your medical treatment is complete, your attorney can submit a demand package to the insurance company and pursue favorable settlement compensation on your behalf.
Recovering the Damages You DeserveIn some pedestrian accident scenarios, accident victims suffer fatal injuries. When that happens, surviving family members may be eligible to recover various monetary damages through a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. As part of a wrongful death claim, you will need to demonstrate that a driver operated their vehicle recklessly under the circumstances and that, as a result, your loved one passed away. As part of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, a claimant may be eligible to recover the decedent’s anticipated lost wages if the claimant and their family depended upon the decedent for income. Claimants may also be eligible to recover compensation for the grief and trauma connected with their recent loss, as well as for the loss of the decedent’s guidance, support, and love. A surviving spouse may also be eligible to recover compensation for the loss of the deceased individual’s companionship and consortium. At other times, pedestrian accidents result in severe injuries. When that happens, the accident victim may be eligible for various damages. Those damages will depend upon various factors, including the circumstances surrounding the accident, the specific injuries the accident victim suffered, the medical treatment they underwent, the cost of their medical care, and whether they suffered a permanent injury. Common damages that pedestrian accident victims may recover include compensation for all related medical expenses, as well as lost wage compensation for the time they missed from work. If an accident victim had to switch jobs and take a pay cut due to the injuries they suffered, they might be eligible to bring a claim for loss of earning capacity. Moreover, pedestrian accident victims can recover monetary compensation for their mental distress, loss of life enjoyment, pain and suffering, inconvenience, permanent disfigurement or scarring, and loss of the ability to use a body part—such as with a full or partial paralysis injury. A knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorney in your area will do everything they can to help you maximize the compensation you recover in your wrongful death or personal injury claim. If the insurance company undervalues your claim and will not offer you the damages you deserve, your lawyer can threaten them with litigation and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in court.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit for DamagesFollowing a forceful pedestrian accident, an accident victim’s medical costs and other damages can increase significantly. Generally speaking, the faster the vehicle travels, the higher the likelihood that a pedestrian will suffer fatal injuries. In any pedestrian accident claim or lawsuit, there are two ways of recovering monetary damages. The first is by filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit in court against the at-fault driver. In either instance, you and your lawyer will deal directly with the insurance company adjuster for the at-fault driver. When dealing with an at-fault driver’s insurer, you can bet that the settlement adjuster will be difficult. In almost every situation, your lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster aggressively to get them in a position where they offer reasonable monetary compensation to settle the case. However, if that does not materialize, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in the court system. During litigation, your lawyer can assist you with answering written discovery questions, called interrogatories, and participating in a discovery deposition. If the settlement offer does not increase significantly by the end of the litigation, your lawyer can take your case to trial or, alternatively, pursue mediation or binding arbitration. Throughout your case, your attorney can help you make informed decisions that will best serve your personal and financial needs.
Drivers Are Taking Advantage of Less Traffic to Drive RiskierFewer 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 SkyrocketedThe 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.
Why Pedestrian Accident Fatalities Are IncreasingPedestrian 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.
Police Officers Do Not Strongly Enforce Reckless Driving LawsIn 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’ BehaviorFrom 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 EnoughSome 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 ImpactsMany 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
You May Obtain Financial Compensation After a Pedestrian AccidentIf 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
- 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
How to Maximize Your Pedestrian Accident Financial CompensationFinancial 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
Call an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney TodayIf you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, you are not alone. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney will be with you every step of the way and help you maximize the monetary damages you recover, either through settlement or litigation. Never wait to get medical treatment, and never wait to have a personal injury lawyer evaluate your legal options.
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