Pedestrian Struck By Vehicle: Is the driver automatically at fault?
Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are legally crossing the street. Whether on a sidewalk, in a crosswalk, walking, running, in a wheelchair, pushing a stroller, on roller skates/blades, or on a skateboard pedestrians are virtually unprotected. Serious injuries from pedestrian accidents can be life threatening and life altering. Each year there are nearly 5,000 fatalities due to pedestrian accidents in the US and thousands more victims sustain serious and/or permanent injuries with victims of the most serious injuries facing a lifetime of new challenges.
Children under age 16 are the most likely to be struck by a car, but elderly victims are the most likely to die as a result of a pedestrian or crosswalk accident. Most pedestrian accidents occur on the weekends during the evening hours. Pedestrian accidents in the late afternoon increase when daylight savings time is removed in the winter and the sun sets earlier.
No matter how minor or serious the crosswalk accident, or how it happened, pedestrian collision victims and their families often have questions about their legal rights and how to make sure that they received fair and reasonable compensation for injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. If you're visiting our website because you're a pedestrian accident victim, or a family member of someone who was struck by a motor vehicle, we hope this information begins to answer your some of your questions as you research your legal options and begin your journey to recovery.
If you or a family member has suffered as the result of a crosswalk or pedestrian accident in Washington state, attorney Chris Davis and the Davis Law Group, P.S. can help you. We are committed to helping injured pedestrians recover the just and fair compensation they are entitled to receive under the law. Call 206-727-4000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
A Crosswalk Collision Might Require a Legal Consultation
Not every pedestrian accident victim needs the assistance of a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer does not automatically mean that a lawsuit will be filed. More often than not attorneys are able to negotiate settlements for their clients without ever litigating the case.
When necessary, litigation not only serves the purpose of compensating an accident victim, but holding negligent persons and companies accountable for their actions. Lawsuits can help change the law. Pedestrian accident lawsuits can help facilitate change in awareness, behavior and the law which may help prevent future accidents, injuries, and deaths. Litigation often causes companies to make products safer. These changes can prevent others from suffering similar accidents and injuries in the future.
Washington State & King County Pedestrian Accident Research
- Each year in Washington State, pedestrian fatalities constitute 12 to 14% of all fatalities related to motor-vehicle collisions.
- In Washington State, 60 percent of collisions are located on city streets, where people are expected to travel on foot.
- But more than 30 percent of fatal collisions are on state roads that are typically considered regional or trans-regional facilities dedicated principally to vehicular traffic and designed accordingly (Washington State DOT 1997).
- During the six-year period between January 1995 and December 2000, there were 1,795 collisions involving more than 1,895 pedestrians in Washington State. Of that number 175 pedestrians were killed and 376 were disabled.
- 675 collisions with 714 pedestrians in King County occurred over the six-year period constitute more than 37 percent of state totals. The 56 pedestrian fatalities and 144 disabling injuries in the county account for 32 percent and 38 percent of state fatalities and injuries, respectively.
- For the five year period between 1995-2000, SR 99 (Aurora Avenue North) was the site of 43 percent of the pedestrian accident in King County and 16 percent for Washington State as a whole.
National Pedestrian Accident Statistics
There was a loss of 4,881 lives in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes in 2005, almost thirteen people every day of the year (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts). Though the number of pedestrian fatalities fell from 5,584 in 1995 to 4,881 in 2005, the fatalities in 2005 were the highest since 4,901 fatalities were recorded in 2001. The number of reported injuries involving pedestrians fell from 84,000 in 1995 to 64,000 in 2005. Only a fraction of pedestrian crashes that cause injury are ever recorded by the police.
- Pedestrian Deaths in 1995: 5,585 (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)
- Pedestrian Deaths in 2010: 4,280 (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)
- Pedestrian Injuries in 1995: 84,000 (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)
- Pedestrian Injuries in 2010: 70,000 (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts)
- According to Safe Kids USA, more than 15,500 children under the age of 14 are injured each year in pedestrian accidents
- In 2005, the total cost of pedestrian injuries and fatalities among children ages 14 and younger was approximately $1.2 billion (Safe Kids USA).
- 69 percent of pedestrians killed in 2009 were males.
- Almost three out of every four pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas (74 percent).
- The top four states for pedestrian fatalities are California, Florida, Texas, and New York. These four states make up 42 percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide while only accounting for 29 percent of the total traffic fatalities across the country.
- Nearly half (48 percent) of pedestrian fatalities occur on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Many reported pedestrian accidents are linked to negligent actions of drivers who fail to take proper precautions in crosswalks and other high foot traffic areas. These situations include (but aren't limited to):
- Inattention: A failure by drivers to check for pedestrians in crosswalks prior to driving through them.
- Unmarked Crosswalks: Intersections are a hotspot for pedestrian accidents---especially if there is not a clearly marked crosswalk which is synced to a traffic signal.
- Left-Hand Turns: Three times as many people get hit by cars turning left than by cars turning right because both parties are looking elsewhere: The drivers are busy negotiating the intersection and street-crossers are looking straight ahead.
- Right on Red: Motorists that are turning right at a right light often fail to make a complete stop and fail to see pedestrians.
- Dark Clothes: Nearly 50 percent of all pedestrian accidents happen on the weekends and 70 percent happen at night.
- Turning: Drivers choosing to make turns without paying attention to their surroundings.
Justice: Legal Rights of Victims of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accident victims and the families of pedestrians killed by motorists have turned to Davis Law Group for representation. Attorney Chris Davis, founder of Davis Law Group, is the author of Right of Way: The Essential Guide to Pedestrian Accident Law in Washington State. He is a fixture in the Seattle mediascape for legal commentary on Washington State pedestrian law.
Washington State Pedestrian Safety Laws, Codes, Rules & Regulations
- Vehicles Avoiding Pedestrians - Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway (RCW 46.61.245).
- Vehicles Yield to Pedestrians - Vehicles shall stop at intersections to allow pedestrians and bicycles to cross the road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk (RCW 46.61.235).
- Pedestrians Yielding to Vehicles - Pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway (RCW 46.61.240).
- Pedestrian Traffic Signals - Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and traffic control devices unless otherwise directed by a traffic or police officer (RCW 46.61.050).
- Sidewalks - Drivers and bicyclists must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks (RCW 46.61.261).
- Pedestrians on roadways - Pedestrians must use sidewalks when they are available. If sidewalks are not available, pedestrians must walk on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic (RCW 46.61.250).
- Bolting into traffic - No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb and move into traffic so that the driver can not stop (RCW 46.61.235).