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Bay Area Drivers Rarely Charged for Pedestrian Accidents, Report Finds

Drivers who strike pedestrians in the Bay Area rarely face criminal charges, even when they are at fault, according to a recent report. An analysis conducted by the non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that less than half of all drivers who hit pedestrians in the Bay Area are ever charged with a crime. Furthermore, CIR found, those who are charged rarely face serious penalties if convicted.

Injuries To Pedestrians

Pedestrians involved in an accident with a motor vehicle are at a significant disadvantage because they don’t have the same protection that a vehicle occupant does. Seat belts, airbags, and crash avoidance systems are all designed to keep drivers safe, but pedestrians are left exposed and unprotected if they face an impact with a car. For this reason, pedestrians often sustain significant injuries in these types of accidents.

Here are some of the most common pedestrian accident injuries:

  • Soft tissue damage: It may take you less time to recover from this type of injury compared to others. Severe pain and long-term issues often persist with these types of injuries. Contusions, lacerations, strains, and tears all encompass this type of injury.
  • Broken bones and fractures: These types of injuries can be excruciating, leading to long-term complications. In severe cases, a pedestrian may suffer from a compound fracture where the bone punctures through the skin, or they may even require amputation.
  • Spinal cord injury: Injuries to the spine are severe and can result in permanent paralysis or be fatal. These types of injuries can be life-altering and cause additional health complications in the future.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Life-altering injuries like a concussion or TBI can occur from a single, forceful blow to the head. Common symptoms of this type of injury include dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and loss of consciousness.

A variety of factors involved in pedestrian accidents determine the severity of the victim’s injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to call our office and request a free, initial consultation with one of our expert attorneys.

Determining Liability In Pedestrian Accident Claims

California laws aim to protect pedestrians from driver negligence or other egregious behavior on the road. Drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing within marked or unmarked crosswalks or intersections. Because pedestrian accident cases typically fall under personal injury claims, it is necessary to prove that the vehicle’s driver acted negligently in your case, ultimately causing your injuries.

Here are some examples of driver negligence that could cause a pedestrian accident:

Upon taking your case, one of our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers will begin by collecting evidence, including police reports or witness statements, to put together a more comprehensive picture of the accident.

Once your lawyer understands precisely what happened, they will get to work determining who was at fault and to what degree. Initial consultations are always free, and there is no obligation to meet with one of our attorneys, who can provide you with personalized advice on how to handle your claim best.

What Types of Damages Are Available in Pedestrian Accident Cases?

Placing an exact dollar amount on the value of a pedestrian accident case is difficult, which is why hiring a pedestrian accident lawyer could mean the difference between accepting a lowball settlement offer and receiving the maximum amount of compensation in your case.

Two types of damages exist in pedestrian accident cases, including special and general damages. Special damages, also known as economic damages, are simple to determine and are calculated to the exact dollar amount. Medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning capacity are all damages available in pedestrian accident cases.

Seeking the advice of a medical professional immediately after being involved in a pedestrian accident is essential to your claim. You may not experience symptoms of your injuries right away. Still, suppose you decide to accept a settlement offer before having a physician evaluate the full extent of your injuries. In that case, you will be unable to collect for any future medical expenses or treatments.

Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are not as easy to calculate, and insurance companies often use what’s known as a sliding scale to determine their value. Some examples of general damages include emotional pain and suffering, general loss of enjoyment of life, long-term disability, paralysis, or disfigurement. Punitive damages apply in cases where the driver committed acts of gross negligence. These types of damages are awarded to deter similar future actions.

Few Charged, Fewer Punished

In its analysis, CIR examined thousands of Bay Area police and court records spanning a five-year period. Of 238 drivers found to be at fault or suspected of a crime in relation to traffic accidents, only 40 percent faced criminal charges. Among those who did face charges, the punishments they received were often minor.

According to the CIR analysis, less than 60 percent of drivers facing criminal charges for pedestrian accidents had their driver’s licenses revoked or suspended – even for a single day. In contrast, drivers arrested for DUI in California face automatic suspension of driving privileges. And while people convicted of accidental shootings in California often face lengthy prison sentences, only 13 drivers in the study were sentenced to more than a year in jail. Forty percent of convicted drivers spent no more than one day in jail.

One in Four Traffic Deaths is a Pedestrian

According to a 2011 report by Transportation for America, pedestrian fatalities made up more than 25 percent of all Bay Area traffic fatalities over the past decade. Only New York and Los Angeles had higher rates of pedestrian deaths in the United States. Approximately one in three pedestrians killed in the Bay Area between 2007 and 2011 were in a crosswalk at the time of the collision, according to another CIR analysis – a rate three times higher than the national average. Furthermore, Bay Area fatalities increased nearly 40 percent from 2010 to 2011.

Speed is one of the biggest factors affecting pedestrian accidents and the severity of any injuries that may result. According to a study conducted in 2010 by the London Department for Transport, a pedestrian’s chances of being killed by a vehicle traveling at 40 miles per hour are five times higher than if he or she were struck by a car traveling at 30 miles per hour. Correspondingly, a majority of traffic deaths in the U.S. occur on roads with posted speed limits of 40 miles per hour or above, according to TFA.

Compensation for Injured Pedestrians

California law provides that drivers who negligently injure or kill pedestrians can be held liable in civil court for the damage they cause, even if no criminal charges result from the crash. People who have been injured or lost a family member in a California pedestrian accident should speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about the possibility of seeking compensation for their lost income, medical expenses, and other harm resulting from the crash.

Pedestrian Accident FAQs

Do I need to see a doctor, even if I’m only feeling a little sore?

You may not experience symptoms of your injuries immediately after an accident, which is why it is essential to seek the advice of your primary care physician. Foregoing a medical evaluation could mean the difference between you being compensated for your injuries or having to pay-out-of-pocket for future medical expenses.

What should I do if I’m in an accident with a car as a pedestrian?

If you become involved or suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, the first thing you should do is call emergency services and request an ambulance if one is needed. Next, you should take down the driver’s details and collect evidence, including witness statements, contact information, and pictures of the scene of the accident, including all damages.

What is the leading cause of pedestrian fatalities?

Distracted driving, more explicitly driving while texting or talking on the phone, was cited as the leading cause of pedestrian fatalities by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How can I seek compensation for a loved one who was killed in a pedestrian accident?

Filing a wrongful death claim can help you recover compensation for the death of a loved one who was involved in a pedestrian accident with a motorist. With a wrongful death claim, you could receive compensation for expenses incurred before their death if it occurred in the hospital after the accident. These medical expenses may include hospital bills or surgery costs. You might also seek to receive compensation for the loss of companionship or any financial support previously provided by the deceased.

Will my pedestrian accident case settle out of court?

The large majority of pedestrian accidents settle out of court; however, our team is ready to go to trial on your behalf and fight for your right to receive full and fair compensation in your case.

Contact Us About Your Pedestrian Accident Claim

Our lawyers understand that you may feel overwhelmed and unable to deal with the complex details that are often involved in personal injury suits in the aftermath of an accident. Put your trust in our team of experienced attorneys who are ready to build a strong case on your behalf.

Call our office for your free, no-hassle consultation with a pedestrian accident attorney who can ensure that you receive fair compensation for the total value of your claim.

Pedestrian Accident

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