Any car collision has the potential to cause injuries, but pedestrian crashes are particularly devastating for the person on foot. Without the protection of seatbelts, airbags, and crumple zones, residents and visitors may suffer severe or deadly consequences that cause a lifetime of heartache for victims and their families.
Someone Is at Fault for a Pedestrian “Accident”
I know that while Washington DC strives to be a walkable city, drivers are not always ready to share the road—or even driveways and sidewalks—with people on foot. I have seen more than a few car-pedestrian crashes in my home neighborhood of Capitol Hill, and as an injury attorney, I can tell you one thing for sure: these are not “accidents.” Someone or something is to blame for the collision—and the evidence to prove it may be lost while you are laid up with your injuries.
These incidents are commonly caused by a driver’s negligence, such as:
- Distracted driving. Pedestrians should be able to expect to be safe in a crosswalk, but distracted drivers are a new menace to all of us. It only takes a second of inattention for a driver who is texting, talking on a cellphone, fiddling with the radio or GPS, or is otherwise not paying attention to cause a crash.
- Reckless driving. Speeding not only makes it harder to stop in time to avoid a collision, but it also makes injuries sustained in a crash more severe. A reckless driver moving too fast for conditions in a residential area or public concourse can strike one (or several) pedestrians, while those who tailgate or run stop signs can cause a knock-on effect that sends nearby cars into a pedestrian’s path.
- Failure to follow traffic laws. Drivers do not always have the right of way and are required to yield to pedestrians in an intersection. Unfortunately, drivers in a hurry may turn right or left without stopping, colliding with a pedestrian who has the right of way.
- Drunk or impaired driving. Since drunk drivers are likely to flee the scene after hitting someone, it’s no surprise that one in every five fatal pedestrian crashes in DC is caused by a hit-and-run. No person under the influence of drugs or alcohol should ever attempt to drive, and there are severe penalties when this behavior results in injuries or death.
- Failure to “see” a pedestrian. Often, a driver who does not “see” a pedestrian has failed to look for one. Backover collisions are common in parking lots simply because the driver does not check for people crossing behind the car before reversing. A driver may also not detect a pedestrian due to failure to consider poor weather, blind driveways, or entrances and exits where the sidewalk is obscured.
Pedestrian accidents can happen to anyone, but they are especially prevalent among elderly people who have stopped driving, are no longer comfortable riding bicycles, and now rely on walking as their main form of transportation. Crossing lights are timed for younger people, and those who walk more slowly face a greater risk of injury.
It is also important to recognize—as various City governments have—that vehicle height directly impacts the severity of injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident. For example, a pedestrian hit by a Honda Civic will probably be hit in the legs, while a pedestrian hit by a Ford F-150 on oversized wheels will likely be hit in the chest. It is often easier to recover from a leg injury than an assault to the torso, which may cause deadly organ damage. Women are at greater risk of organ damage because we women tend to be a little shorter, making our bodies more vulnerable to chest and torso impacts.
A DC Pedestrian Crash Attorney Who Has Your Back
If you've been hit by a car, you need an attorney who understands the injuries caused by a pedestrian collision and how they prevent you from living your life. Even minor crashes can result in head injuries, broken bones, spinal injuries, facial trauma, or skin abrasions for people who are walking, jogging, or simply standing near the road.
The good news is that recent changes in the law have made it easier for pedestrians to recover damages from careless drivers. In the past, DC had one of the harshest standards for liability in pedestrian cases, barring any pedestrian from recovering damages if they were even 1% at fault for the crash. In 2020, the mayor signed the Vulnerable User Collision Recovery Amendment Act, changing this standard to one of contributory negligence. Today, pedestrians who are partially at fault for a collision can still recover damages as long as the driver of the vehicle was mostly at fault.
Get the Help You Need
Kitchel Law, PLLC provides compassionate legal representation to injured pedestrians and their families throughout the Metro DC area. If you or someone you love was struck by a car while walking in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, or the surrounding areas, contact me today for the help you need.