When winter ends and warmer weather arrives, drivers should take note that with the warmer weather, pedestrian accident injuries begin to rise. As more people will take to the great outdoors for walks or a jog, the risk for pedestrian accidents increases with each warm day. In fact, 90 percent of pedestrian traffic incidents occur on sunny days. If you or one of your family members are injured by a negligent driver while walking, Hardy, Wolf & Downing, Maine’s premier pedestrian accident lawyers, with offices in Portland, Bangor, and Lewiston, has nearly 40 years of experience investigating and prosecuting pedestrian accidents.
Exercise Caution When Taking to the Streets
For Mainers, beyond the onset of black flies, spring into summer is a welcome time of year. Yet taking walks or traveling on foot to the corner store can have its risks. The statistics for pedestrian traffic accidents are sobering and grim. Nationally, the CDC estimated that 143,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries in 2017. Of that, nearly 6,000 were killed as a result of those injuries. That’s roughly about one death every hour and a half. Simply put—pedestrians don’t stand a chance when struck by a car.
As much as people need to exercise for their health, they need to exercise caution when they take to the streets for any reason. Though drivers are responsible by law for just about any conceivable pedestrian accident injuries, when someone is struck by a car, driver and pedestrian actions can factor into an accident. Both parties must have shown a “duty of care.” They have a legal responsibility to avoid any reasonably foreseeable circumstances that could cause harm to others.
Consider Duty of Care
The case for negligence in pedestrian-car accidents hinges on the legal concept of duty of care. No matter how obvious a case for negligence may be, the courts will look at the evidence to determine fault. Drivers, as well as pedestrians, must have exercised reasonable care in preventing or avoiding the accident. Both drivers and pedestrians must follow the rules of the road.
Drivers must exercise a duty of care when they are behind the wheel. Failure to be reasonably careful is considered negligence. A number of factors that contribute to driver negligence in pedestrian traffic accidents are speeding, distracted by texting, ignoring traffic conditions and striking a pedestrian in a construction zone, failing to signal while turning at an intersection or yielding to pedestrians on crosswalks or driving impaired under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even if a pedestrian is jaywalking, drivers will be held responsible. Drivers who negligently operate their vehicles could be held liable and required to pay damages for personal injury to the pedestrian.
If you are a pedestrian, you too must exercise a duty of care. There are a number of precautions to take when out for a walk. For starters, while walking or jogging, stay on designated walkways, sidewalks, and paths and stay out of the road. Don’t wander into the street or road to slip past someone without looking first. If no sidewalks are available where you live, always walk facing traffic. Day or evening, increase your visibility. Wear brightly colored clothing. In the early evening carry a flashlight or a reflective vest. Use designated crosswalks and pedestrian signals at intersections. Do not text while walking across the street. If your earbuds are plugged listening to your favorite music or podcast, never enter a roadway or cross a street without looking both ways.
With the warmer weather upon us, drivers need to be more cautious and aware of more people out walking. If you or one of your family members were involved in a pedestrian-auto accident, Hardy, Wolf & Downing to consult with one of our pedestrian accident attorneys serving Portland, Bangor, and Lewiston.