Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Comparative Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents Hit by a Car

When a moving vehicle strikes a pedestrian, catastrophic injuries usually result. Vehicles outweigh pedestrians by thousands of pounds and exert great force that the human body cannot generally withstand. Despite a “vehicle versus pedestrian” accident being most damaging to the pedestrian, a driver may try to defend his or her actions through comparative negligence.

Due to the intricacy of personal injury cases and skill with which some lawyers develop defenses for clients against plaintiff claims, it is important to engage the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer for an accident claim. An expert attorney will know your state laws well and can pursue fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Comparative Negligence Defined

Comparative negligence is a defense used in court to mitigate the amount of liability on the part of the defendant. In the past, the rule for auto accident cases was that a party could not recover damages if he or she contributed to their own injuries suffered during the accident. Although this rule is seldom followed in courts of most states, many states use comparative negligence to reduce the amount of recovery compensation a plaintiff can receive according to the amount of responsibility he or she held for the accident and resulting injuries.

As an example, a plaintiff in a car accident who is determined by the courts to be 20 percent at fault for that accident and resulting damages of $100,000 can only recover 80 percent of the damages, for $80,000. Some states permit plaintiffs to pursue damages if he or she was less than 50 percent to blame for the accident, as part of modified comparative negligence.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in the United States, with industry experts attributing distracted walking as at least partially responsible for the statistical increase. Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are the top three cities in the U.S. for pedestrian fatalities from motor vehicle accidents. In these, as in other urban area accidents, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that about 75 percent of pedestrian accidents occur in non-intersection locations and primarily at night.

Distracted Walking

Just as drivers can contribute or cause car accidents through distracted driving, pedestrians using a cell phone while walking can increase the likelihood of being fatally injured by a motor vehicle. Experts attribute increased accident involvement to texting, talking on the phone and even playing games on smartphone while walking. Pedestrians engaging in these activities become less aware of their surroundings and more likely to be injured in a collision with a vehicle.

Listening to music through earphones while walking, pedestrians cannot hear important sounds such as car horns, speeding vehicles, crossing detections and other alerts. If pedestrians are not being observant while walking, they may not see indications of impending collision.

One study reports that about 30 percent of all pedestrians hit by a car are distracted while walking because they are using their smartphone for texting, talking on the phone or listening to music.

Initiatives to Prevent Pedestrian Distraction and Comparative Negligence

Due to the dangers associated with distracted walking, the U.S. Department of Transportation has implemented safety program grants to cities around the country where an above average number of pedestrian deaths have occurred. The goal is to provide education, resource access and enforcement of distracted walking measures, so pedestrians may become more aware and alert while walking. Statistics of distracted walking support the need for these programs, particularly since it has been proven that pedestrians who are distracted require 18 percent more time to cross a street than those paying attention at the crossing. 

Comparative Negligence Due to Distracted Walking

When motor vehicle operators are involved in accidents with pedestrians and the pedestrian pursues a personal injury claim, the driver may try to use comparative negligence as a defense in their case. The claim may be that the pedestrian was distracted and contributed to the accident by disabling him or herself from avoiding injury. Pedestrians cannot usually be fully blamed, however. Motorists have a greater duty to ensure they operate their vehicle safely and provide pedestrians with right of way or other safety in order to avoid injury them.

But using a comparative negligence tactic can reduce the amount a pedestrian may gain from a personal injury case, even when they are due compensation for significant damages. The defense may try to reduce the amount they must pay for medical expenses, long-term care, rehabilitation costs, loss of compensation and pain and suffering.

Help with Your Personal Injury Claim

When involved in an accident with a car, pedestrians suffer many injuries that will negatively affect their lives for years to come. To ensure compensation for your damages suffered in an auto-pedestrian accident, it is important to ensure that you are supported in your case by an experienced personal injury law firm. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, long-term care, rehab costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Statutes of limitations apply in these cases, placing a time limit on your ability to file a claim. To ensure you are able to gain the compensation you deserve, work with a lawyer who knows Arizona personal injury law. Call the Cantor Crane Personal Injury Law Firm today at 602-254-2701 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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