While many traffic accidents can cause the victims serious injuries, accidents involving a car and a pedestrian can be particularly devastating. The pedestrian’s complete lack of protection can leave them especially vulnerable to injury. In fact, of the hundreds of pedestrian-vehicle accidents that happen each year in suburban Cook County, almost 25 percent of them result in fatal or incapacitating injuries, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s crash summary report. Pedestrians should be aware of the common causes and consequences of traffic accidents, as well as the legal ramifications of one, in order to keep themselves safe.
Causes and Consequences of Pedestrian Traffic Accidents
Traffic accidents involving pedestrians have a wide variety of different causes. One of the most common causes is simple carelessness on the part of the driver. Failing to stay alert for pedestrians at crosswalks and in the street can lead to serious accidents. Evening and night driving can also exacerbate these problems because the low light makes people more difficult to see.
This is especially true for elderly drivers whose increased risk for vision problems already makes them more likely to be involved in car accidents. Violations of traffic laws are also common causes of pedestrian injury, especially driving under the influence and speeding. Accidents resulting from speeding can be particularly problematic because the higher speeds can cause more severe injuries to the unprotected pedestrian.
When these accidents do happen, the injuries that arise can be quite serious. Pedestrians can experience a range of injuries, including:
- Broken bones;
- Head trauma;
- Brain injuries;
- Disfigurements; and
- Injuries to the neck, back, and spinal cord.
The Legal Side of Pedestrian Traffic Accidents
These sorts of accidents can give rise to personal injury claims on the part of the pedestrian if they suffer a serious enough injury. The personal injury case will hinge on the legal concept of “negligence.” This means that the driver, or their insurance, will likely have to compensate the pedestrian for their injuries if the court finds that the driver acted negligently, meaning that they acted without reasonable care for the other people around them. This concept is also important when judging the pedestrian’s actions, because the pedestrian may have been negligent as well.
For instances in which both the pedestrian and the driver were negligent, Illinois judges fault based on “comparative negligence.” The doctrine of comparative negligence means that a person’s ability to recover for their injuries is reduced if they were also acting carelessly. For example, if a pedestrian is 20 percent responsible for their injuries, they would only be able to recover 80 percent of their costs. Furthermore, if a pedestrian is more than 50 percent responsible for their own injuries, they cannot recover at all.
If you have recently been involved in a pedestrian-automobile accident, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney in your area. We represent clients in matters like this in many northwest suburban towns, such as Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, and Arlington Heights.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.