With our offices being located in college towns and at the beaches, we see a lot of pedestrians walking around, particularly when the weather gets nice. Unfortunately, automobile drivers disregard pedestrian right-of-ways, travel at unsafe speeds, or don’t pay proper attention, and pedestrians end up getting struck by cars leading to catastrophic damages. Pedestrians also need to look out for their own safety when walking by keeping a proper lookout; walking on a sidewalk or if no sidewalk is available, into oncoming traffic; wearing bright or reflective clothing particularly after dark; and crossing in designated pedestrian crosswalks. Sometimes despite taking every effort to be cautious, however, cars, trucks, and other vehicles strike pedestrians leading to serious injuries or death.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports nearly 5,000 deaths per year from pedestrian-vehicle crashes and nearly 70,000 injuries. Those statistics are staggering especially considering fewer than 10 percent of trips are made on foot.
Sadly, a number of children are also struck by cars when they are out playing. This is often due to speeding motorist or inattentive drivers. Special negligence laws apply to children who are injured in North Carolina, including laws on liability and recovery of any money. It is important if your child is injured while playing or walking in the street that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who can assist you with navigating special laws that apply to children.
The causes of pedestrian accidents vary, but generally, the causes we see most often when a driver is at fault for hitting a pedestrian are:
- Speed – simply put, the faster the vehicle is moving, the less likely a driver can see a pedestrian, the more likely they are to lose control of the car, and the less time it gives the driver or the pedestrian to take action to avoid a collision;
- Alcohol consumption or other impairment by the driver causing the driver to leave the road or not yield the right of way;
- Failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian;
- Distraction of the driver either from texting, passengers, or other causes;
- Poor visibility either from bad weather, fog on windshield, or other cause.
Under North Carolina law, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections and driveways. While pedestrians have a duty to look before crossing and exercise reasonable care to protect their own safety, all too often vehicle drivers ignore the rights of pedestrians and fail to yield to them. Drivers are impatient, texting, not paying attention, or worse, drunk or impaired on medications or other drugs, and they either do not see the pedestrian or think the pedestrian will yield to them or get out of their way. When a car hits someone who is out walking, the damages are often severe and life changing for both the victim and the victim’s family.
Attorney Robert Rouse is an advocate for pedestrian safety both in and out of the office. The Law Offices of Robert D. Rouse, III, has successfully handled many cases involving pedestrians. If you or a loved one has been injured or if you have lost a loved one who was killed in a pedestrian accident, contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your legal rights with an experienced North Carolina accident attorney. If you cannot come to one of our office locations in Greenville or Morehead City, we can arrange to come to you.