Walking is our most basic form of travel. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly more risky. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, during the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 53 percent. A pleasant walk with your dog, an enjoyable shopping spree, standing at the bus stop to meet your child getting off the school bus, or just a satisfying stroll in the outdoors, can turn into a life-changing nightmare if you or a loved one is hit by a vehicle.
If this happened to you because a driver has been negligent or willfully careless, you should not feel that you have to deal with all of the consequences by yourself. A compassionate local attorney can help you recover and get your life back to normal. A knowledgeable and compassionate Decatur pedestrian accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve, and that fairness requires.
Preventing Collisions Between Cars and Pedestrians
Drivers owe a general duty of care when traveling on Illinois roads. 625 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/11-1003.1 states that all drivers must use reasonable caution to avoid hitting those walking in, across, or alongside a roadway. If necessary, motor vehicle operators must sound their horns and take other evasive action to prevent a collision. When children or other vulnerable groups (intoxicated, incapacitated, etc.) are present, drivers may need extra vigilance.
Automobile operators must also recognize that 625 ILCS 5/11-1002(a) & -1008 grant pedestrians the right of way on sidewalks and in crosswalks when there are no traffic control signals. Therefore, vehicles must yield to people walking in crosswalks and when drivers need to travel over a sidewalk to access a driveway, garage, or street.
Responsibility of Pedestrians
Even with their general duty of care, drivers are not the only ones obligated to act appropriately to avoid crashes. 65 ILCS 5/11-1001, -1002(b), and -1003 require pedestrians to follow certain safety guidelines as well. These include:
- Obey all traffic control devices
- Use crosswalks when available
- Refrain from suddenly stepping out into the street in front of a moving vehicle
- Yield to vehicles if crossing outside of a crosswalk
- Use overhead tunnels or walkways if available or give the right of way if the walker chooses not to utilize such safety features
- Avoid crossing intersections diagonally
A pedestrian’s failure to abide by these laws might translate into a contributing factor to the accident. If this occurs, the court might apply Illinois comparative fault law to reduce the amount awarded to reflect the plaintiff’s involvement. Under 735 ILCS 5/2-1116, if their share of responsibility exceeds 50 percent, they may not recover any damages. Those injured may avoid such harsh results by working with a reputable pedestrian collision attorney in the area.
Common Types of Injuries in Accidents Involving People Walking
People are afforded no protection against much larger and heavier automobiles. Individuals may be tossed into the air, up onto windshields, run over, or pinned underneath or between the car and another object. The result is often catastrophic injuries to the pedestrian.
Additionally, you do not have to be out for a walk to be considered a pedestrian. For the purposes of accident personal injury law, an injury victim who was not in another motor vehicle at the time of the accident is considered a pedestrian. For example, cleaning the ice off your windshield, changing a tire, riding in a wheelchair, etc., would all qualify. And, when a pedestrian, under any circumstances, is struck by someone in any kind of vehicle, it is usually the pedestrian who is injured. The responsible and negligent driver often walks away. The pedestrian on the other hand, often suffers serious and life altering injuries, even when hit at slow speeds. These can include:
- deep cuts or lacerations
- muscle sprains or other soft tissue injuries, like severe bruising (contusions)
- broken bones or other severe orthopedic injuries like tendon ruptures
- dental or other facial injuries
- eye injuries and loss of vision
- internal bleeding or organ damage
- head trauma, like concussions or more severe traumatic brain injury
- neck or spine injuries, including paralysis
- in the worst case, wrongful death
These injuries can lead to lifelong changes, including disfigurement, rehabilitation, and even permanent disability. A hardworking local attorney could help an injured pedestrian seek financial compensation for past and future losses stemming from the accident.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Negligent and careless driving can take many forms, all equally dangerous when a pedestrian is struck:
- running red lights or stop signs
- failure to heed pedestrians in or stop at crosswalks
- making illegal turns or failing to signal
- speeding, especially when ignoring school zone signs
- distracted driving (for example, eating or texting while driving)
- driver fatigue, or falling asleep at the wheel
- drunk driving or drug impaired driving
- parking lot pedestrian injuries are common when a driver reverses without checking for them
- vehicle malfunctions, such as defective or bad maintenance of equipment like lights, brakes, tires, etc.
- reckless and aggressive driving, such as passing another car stopped at a crosswalk
- sadly, nowadays some pedestrians are even deliberately and maliciously hit by vehicles.
It is highly important that a pedestrian who was struck by a negligent driver seeks prompt representation from a Decatur attorney.
Pedestrian Accident FAQs
What should I do after a pedestrian accident?
The actions you take if you or a loved one was struck by a vehicle affect not just health, but also your ability to get fair compensation for the injuries. Some suggestions:
- Get all the medical care you need to get better. Get evaluated as soon as possible and follow the medical advice you’re given.
- Don’t let the fear of costs or the uncertainty about who will be responsible for payments prevent you from getting proper evaluation and treatment.
- Keep track of all other monetary losses and expenses resulting from the injuries, including lost work or wages, and expenses for services you cannot do now, such as pet care, lawn care, household cleaning, etc.
- As soon as you can, write down as much as you can remember about the accident itself. Make notes of any conversations you had with people involved in the accident or with witnesses. Preserve any evidence, such as clothing and physical items present at the scene, and any photographs of the site or your injuries.
- Certainly report the accident to your car insurance agent promptly. But remember that insurance companies and adjusters have a goal to minimize any claim payments. Never admit any fault or give a written or recorded statement to any insurance provider without legal advice from your own attorney. That is the only one that will truly act in your best interests. Just report the basic facts about the accident – the who, where, and when. Let the details wait until you’ve consulted with your lawyer.
What kind of damages can be recovered?
A skilled personal injury attorney is critical to ensuring that you recover for all of the damages allowed under Illinois law. These include:
- the expense of any necessary medical care, treatment, or services you have received or are reasonably certain to need in the future
- the value of any wages, profits, earnings, or benefits you lost because of the accident or are likely to lose in the future
- if there is evidence that life expectancy has been shortened by the injuries, this has been recognized as a separate compensable damage
- the cost of caretaking expenses or other necessary help resulting from the injuries, now or in the future
- compensation for “loss of normal life”, things you can no longer do — any temporary or permanent diminished ability to enjoy your life, including the ability to pursue the pleasurable aspects of life
- reimbursement for current or future disabilities resulting from the accident injuries
- compensation when the injury puts you at an increased risk of future harm
- disfigurement is recognized as a separate element of damages in Illinois when scarring or other kinds of disfiguring injuries occur.
- compensation for pain and suffering you experienced because of the injuries
- an award for emotional distress caused by the injury
- if, you lost a loved one, you’re entitled to compensation for the wrongful death caused by the responsible party.
What kinds of insurance coverage are there when a vehicle hits a pedestrian?
There are a number of possibilities, and I can help guide you through all of the options available for recovery from insurance companies. Some of the most likely sources of coverage include:
- You can probably recover from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance on their auto policy.
- You may have uninsured or under insured coverage(UM/UIM) on your own auto insurance policy that often provides coverage even when you weren’t driving in your car, but were injured by a car while walking or riding your bicycle
- You may have medical payments coverage(med pay) on your own auto policy that may provide coverage if you’re hit by another car while a pedestrian.
- If the at-fault driver was driving a work vehicle or operating a vehicle in the course of their job, you may be able to recover from their employer’s liability insurance
- If you’re struck as a pedestrian in the course of your work, you may be eligible to recover from your company’s workers compensation
But remember that any insurance company will try to minimize claim payments. Your best bet to get fair compensation is to let an experienced accident injury attorney represent your interests.
What can a Decatur pedestrian accident attorney do for you?
You already know that dealing with the aftermath of a pedestrian accident is complicated, and you have already felt the stress caused by the disruptions in your life. Don’t deal with this by yourself. You have enough to do to make sure that everyone gets well and back to as normal a life as possible. We know the law and have the experience to deal with the insurance companies and all of the paperwork. We can carefully listen to you to evaluate your situation, gather the evidence, prove fault, collect all the documents to fully assess your damages and losses, build your case, make your claim, and work to successfully resolve it in your favor. We are often able to resolve these cases through negotiation, without the need to go to court.
How much will it cost to get representation by a Decatur pedestrian accident lawyer?
We usually represent clients in these cases on a contingency fee basis. There are no charges to you upfront and we are only paid from the settlement if and when there is a successful recovery for you. That means that you can afford to get the representation you need now to go up against the insurance companies and their legal teams.
Seek Guidance from a Decatur Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Once you have received the medical care necessary to address your immediate needs, your focus may now be on seeking damages. A Decatur pedestrian accident lawyer at our firm could provide reliable guidance as you move forward with your legal claim. Whether in settlement negotiations or court, our team could represent your best interests to help you get the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free consultation.