The term “accident” typically conjures up images of automobile or motorcycle crashes. However, pedestrian accidents are not only prevalent, but can cause serious injury and even death, as the unshielded body absorbs total impact. In fact, data shows that in Arizona alone last year, there were a reported 1,399 pedestrian accidents, resulting in 1,236 pedestrian injuries and 161 pedestrian fatalities. With staggering numbers and no sign of decline, it’s critical to not only understand how and why pedestrian accidents occur, but also how to protect yourself and your rights if you are a victim of a pedestrian accident.
How Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
A common misconception about pedestrian accidents is that they only occur at night, with pedestrians being scarcely visible to motorists. On the contrary, most pedestrian accidents happen during daytime hours, with many of the incidents involving pedestrians being struck while crossing the road, typically at a designated crosswalk. Additionally, crosswalk accidents, regardless of whether they occur during the day or night, account for over half of the annual pedestrian accident fatalities recorded. Pedestrians are also commonly struck and injured while walking with and against the flow of traffic, and even standing immobile on the street or sidewalk.
Although passenger-vehicle accidents are pervasive, non-vehicle related accidents also pose a threat to pedestrians. For example, poorly maintained or defective sidewalks, construction, hazardous property conditions, and even debris-littered walkways can lead to serious injuries for pedestrians.
Arizona Laws and Victim’s Rights
If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, it’s important to recognize and identify contributing factors in order to protect your rights as a victim. Arizona has in place a stringent set of laws that must be observed by both pedestrians and drivers. Awareness and adherence to rules is critical when it comes to determining liability and knowing how to proceed from a legal standpoint.
When it comes to driver compliance, for example, drivers are required to exercise caution and care at all times, which may include modifying speed during times of inclement weather, using their horn to warn pedestrians, and being vigilant when it comes to the observance of children and hurt or confused pedestrians on a roadway. Failure to do so can undoubtedly place fault with the driver when a pedestrian is injured in an accident.
As far as vehicle-pedestrian crosswalk protocol is concerned, by law, drivers must yield to pedestrians, slow down, and even stop if necessary to allow pedestrians the right of way when conditions permit. When such laws are breached due to driver distraction, impairment, or excessive speed, pedestrians are put in grave danger of being injured, resulting in the motorist being likely found negligent.
Like drivers, pedestrians are also legally required to uphold Arizona traffic laws currently in place. For example, pedestrians must follow all traffic signals and only cross the street at a marked crosswalk in areas of roadway governed by adjacent intersections. Furthermore, at intersections or tunnels, in which a crosswalk is not made available, pedestrians are to yield the right-of-way to motorists. And, under no circumstances should pedestrians compromise safety by walking or running into a roadway where a vehicle is unable to slow down or avoid close contact. A pedestrian’s failure to comply with established traffic laws can adversely impact victim rights and claim outcomes, as the driver may not be found at fault.
What to Do If You’re Involved in a Pedestrian Accident
Pedestrian accidents can be physically and emotionally debilitating. Regardless of how the accident transpired, it’s crucial that you act immediately if you are injured. If you fail to act, you may sacrifice your rights as a victim and even risk exceeding the statute of limitations to file a claim.
The first step is to contact police and remain at the scene until help arrives. Be sure to collect and compile the names and contact information of any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Next, it’s prudent to secure an experienced injury attorney right away to represent you, protect your rights as a victim, and ensure that your claim is prepared and prosecuted in a timely fashion.
To learn more about how we can help you if you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, click here and call us today.