Research Reveals Alarming Rise in U.S. Pedestrian Fatalities

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A report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has revealed that the volume of pedestrian deaths across the United States increased at a rate of 19 percent during the years between 2009 and 2014. This represents an alarming change of 19 percent, despite the fact that during the same time period, overall traffic deaths declined by roughly 4 percent.

Though the national-level findings give rise for real concern, the data on pedestrian fatalities in South Carolina are even more troubling. For 2014, the Palmetto State ranked sixth highest in such deaths, indicating a serious problem in need of immediate attention.

Important facts concerning pedestrian accidents

The undeniable differences between pedestrians and motor vehicles can set the stage for catastrophic accidents and lasting injury. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that in 2012, more than 4,700 individuals lost their lives in traffic accidents, an an additional 76,000 suffered injuries.

This dangerous trend shows no signs of slowing in South Carolina either, with analysis of data from the first six months of 2015 characterized by a 31% increase from the same period in 2014. Pedestrians of all ages are at significant risk when encountering motorists on the roadways, and it is important to keep in mind that:

  • nighttime is the most dangerous part of the day for pedestrians

  • most incidents do not occur at intersections, but at other parts of the street

  • weather is not typically a factor

  • alcohol or other types of driver impairment will often be involved

Injuries common in pedestrian-vehicle incidents

It is often the case that a pedestrian who his hit by a motor vehicle will suffer profound, if not fatal harm.

Some of the most typical sorts of injuries sustained in these events include:

  • traumatic brain injury

  • lacerations and permanent scars

  • bone fractures, including those of the pelvis and legs

  • spinal damage and/or paralysis

  • blood vessel damage necessitating amputation

  • disfigurement

  • emotional trauma

Even those who are able to survive their injuries often have lengthy, painful and costly recovery periods ahead of them. Lingering cognitive losses and physical disabilities can stop such victims from returning to their previous lifestyle or employment situation. Massive medical expenses and rehabilitation bills can place the finances of entire families in real peril.

Liability considerations in pedestrian accidents

Similarly to other types of personal injury cases, establishing liability in accidents involving pedestrians is a highly fact-specific endeavor. Pedestrians are required to follow all applicable laws and proceed cautiously when sharing the streets with others, and there are times when the negligence of others is not the cause of the harm they sustain. Drivers need to give pedestrians the right of way, but that is not to say that pedestrians have no duty to protect themselves through conscientious behaviors. When a pedestrian does not take such care, it may be difficult to prove motorist liability following an accident.

Of course, if a driver does not heed all traffic rules and regulations, operates a car while intoxicated or distracted or otherwise engages in negligence, and a pedestrian is injured or killed as a result, criminal and civil consequences can attach.

When tragedies like this occur, victims and families need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who is able to preserve crucial evidence, conduct eyewitness interviews, interpret medical records and mount aggressive arguments on their behalf. Even if an accident was the result of poorly maintained roadways or environmental dangers caused by a municipality’s negligence, a good lawyer will quickly set about exploring legal avenues for obtaining every available dollar of compensation.

Financial compensation available to victims

Though the GHSA report states that the South Carolina Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs is working in collaboration with the Highway Patrol to address issues related to pedestrian safety, these valuable prevention initiatives can do little to ease the pain of those who suffer serious harm. An aggressive legal advocate can fight for a victim’s right to receive payment for lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical bills, therapy costs and more. Families of those in fatal incidents may be able to receive financial support for dependents, emotional distress compensation as well as payment of funeral expenses.

Few things are more heartbreaking than seeing a loved one try to battle back after being injured by the negligence of another. Victims need to realize that legal assistance in such unfortunate circumstances is close at hand and can make the all the difference for themselves and their families.

South Carolina attorney Michael Jeffcoat is prepared to protect the rights of injured pedestrians and pursue fair financial recovery. To discuss your options for pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, call (803) 200-2000 to arrange a free case review.

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