The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reports that nearly 5,000 pedestrians die in collisions every year in the United States, and in 2012, more than 75,000 pedestrians sustained injuries after being hit by a car or a truck.
Why is it so risky to be a pedestrian? If you’re injured as a pedestrian, what are your rights? Can you seek compensation for your injuries?
We are all pedestrians sometimes, and if you live in any congested big city like Boston, you know that simply walking across the street can be a death-defying experience.
But careless and negligent drivers aren’t the only perils pedestrians face in big cities.
Every year, scores of pedestrians are also injured because of the poor street, sidewalk, and parking lot maintenance, ongoing construction, abandoned debris, and a variety of other far-too-common hazards.
When a negligent driver hits a pedestrian, if the accident isn’t fatal, a pedestrian may sustain neck and back injuries, head trauma and brain injuries, internal injuries, and multiple broken bones, bruises, and abrasions.
Pedestrians don’t wear safety protection and don’t anticipate being injured, so the pedestrians who are injured by negligent drivers are quite likely to sustain disabling, catastrophic injuries.
WHAT ARE INJURED VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE ENTITLED TO?
Thus, for pedestrians in Boston and every other city, constant vigilance is absolutely necessary.
If a driver is speeding, texting, intoxicated, or negligent in some other way and injures a pedestrian, that motorist may be held accountable for the accident and the pedestrian’s personal injury or injuries.
In Massachusetts, if you are injured by another person’s negligence while you are a pedestrian, seek medical treatment immediately.
Then, as quickly as possible, discuss your legal rights and options with an experienced Boston personal injury attorney.
In this state, the injured victims of negligence are entitled by law to full compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, and all other accident-and-injury-related losses and damages.
Even though injured pedestrians and other victims of negligence are legally “entitled” to compensation in Massachusetts, in order to acquire that compensation, victims may have to prove in court that another person’s negligence was a direct cause of their personal injury or injuries.
HOW CAN A BOSTON PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY HELP?
If you are injured by negligence, a Boston personal injury attorney will work with the negligent party, that party’s attorney, and that party’s insurance company to negotiate an out-of-court settlement that is acceptable to everyone involved.
Most pedestrian accident cases are resolved via settlement, but if no acceptable settlement is offered, a personal injury attorney will take your case to trial and advocate aggressively for the justice and compensation you deserve.
What constitutes negligence under Massachusetts law?
To prove negligence in a personal injury case arising from a pedestrian accident, the injured pedestrian (called the “plaintiff”) and his or her personal injury attorney must present evidence to demonstrate that the party allegedly at fault (called the “defendant”):
- owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff in that situation
- breached that duty through negligent action or negligent inaction
- caused an accident that injured the plaintiff
Of course, pedestrians must exercise caution for their own safety. If you walk into traffic and you’re injured because you were staring at your smartphone, the only negligence is yours, and you have no claim against another party.
However, in some cases where a pedestrian is injured, there may be more than one party with legal responsibility for the accident.
WHO CAN BE HELD LIABLE FOR A PEDESTRIAN’S INJURIES?
Depending on the circumstances, potentially liable parties include the driver of the vehicle striking a pedestrian, the owner of that vehicle (if different from the driver), the employer of that driver (if the driver was acting in the “scope and course” of his or her employment at the time of the mishap), and the party or parties responsible for maintaining the street, sidewalk, or parking lot where the incident took place.
Both pedestrians and motorists must adhere to the traffic rules and exercise caution.
In many accidents involving pedestrians, the fault may seem obvious to the casual observer, but the courts in Massachusetts consider a number of factors when applying the law and determining who was at fault in any particular case.
If you file a personal injury claim against a negligent driver who has injured you, that driver may claim that he or she was not negligent and that the negligence was yours.
If you are injured in such circumstances, there won’t be an attorney at the accident scene to advise you, so you must take these steps to gather evidence and protect your rights:
- First, get medical attention immediately.
- Secondly, call the police immediately.
- Do not leave the scene before help arrives.
- Try to obtain the names and contact details of any eyewitnesses.
- Don’t make any statements or sign any insurance papers before you have legal advice.
When you are a pedestrian, adhere to a few reasonable safety recommendations.
Don’t become distracted while walking. Where possible, use sidewalks and cross at crosswalks.
Look both ways when you cross and never jaywalk.
After dark, carry a flashlight and wear brightly-colored clothes.
HOW CAN DRIVERS HELP?
What can drivers do to avoid accidents with pedestrians?
Don’t talk or text on your phone when you drive, and avoid any distractions caused by an audio system, a GPS system, children, or pets.
Don’t groom, read, or eat when you drive. Never consume alcohol or any intoxicating drug before driving.
Routinely check your vehicle’s lights, wipers, brakes, and tires.
Obey the traffic laws at all times.
If you are injured by a negligent driver in Massachusetts, ask a qualified Boston personal injury attorney to review the particulars of your case and to explain your rights and options.
Your attorney will protect your rights, determine who may be liable for your injuries, and fight on your behalf for the compensation you need and are entitled to by Massachusetts law.
Usually, when a personal injury claim prevails, compensation is paid for all current and future medical expenses arising from the accident, all current and future lost wages, and all other expenses and losses arising from the accident.
If you’ve been injured by negligence in Massachusetts, get the legal help you need. It’s your right, and if you’re a victim of negligence in this state, the law is on your side.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.