PEDESTRIAN INJURIES – Legal HELP IN COLORADO

Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Pedestrian motor vehicle crash deaths have increased 51 percent since reaching their low point in 2009. They now account for 17% of crash fatalities [1]. Unfortunately, such accidents are often lethal. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable party in a traffic accident. Their injuries may range from lacerations and broken bones to severe head injuries and loss of limbs.

If you are the victim of a pedestrian traffic accident, you may be eligible for compensation for the damages you have suffered.

Who Is at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?

A driver is not always liable for an accident at an intersection. Many people are unaware of just how right-of-way laws work. In many cases, the driver or the pedestrian thinks they always have the right-of-way, which is not true.

It can be the motor vehicle driver, the pedestrian, or both who could be at fault when pedestrian accidents happen. For example, either the driver or the pedestrian may have failed to observe traffic rules and regulations due to:

  • Distracted driving: for example, because they were texting, eating, talking with passengers, changing the radio station, daydreaming, etc.
  • Distracted walking: for example, because they were texting, reading, listening to music, etc.
  • Distracted biking
  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Marijuana consumption. Since legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, Colorado has seen a 12% increase in pedestrian fatalities, whereas the states that haven’t legalized marijuana consumption reported a collective 5.8% decrease [2].
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Dangerous roadways: for example, because of closed-off sidewalks due to construction, a lack of sidewalks, etc.
  • Broken or missing traffic signals
  • Bad weather

From the above, it becomes clear that, while drivers may be found liable for injuries caused by an error they committed while using the road, they are not always liable for hitting a pedestrian. In general, pedestrians are considered to be at fault when they miscalculated their actions, lost control (for example, by tripping), or committed an error such as failing to yield the right-of-way to vehicles and drivers who fail to see them.

Keep in mind that the term “pedestrian” can also apply to users of non-motorized modes of transportation on a public roadway, such as a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, rollerblades, skates, etc. A pedestrian, therefore, may be a person running, biking, skating, etc.

If you were injured in an accident involving a pedestrian or bicycle, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney right away. You may be able to sue for negligence and recover money for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Colorado Pedestrian Laws

Traffic signs and signals tell both drivers and pedestrians what to do. Just like drivers, pedestrians must obey them, too.

Pedestrians do, however, have the right-of-way in a crosswalk regardless of whether it is marked (i.e., white lines) or unmarked (i.e., an intersection). They have priority over all other vehicles, including bicycles, motorcycles, and emergency vehicles. Cars must come to a full stop and wait for pedestrians to cross an intersection, even if the driver can go around them.

Additionally, drivers making a turn must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians who are within 30 feet of the intersection.

Finally, a driver turning into a driveway or parking lot must yield to pedestrians who are already on the sidewalk or path. The driver must also yield to pedestrians who are about to enter the driveway or parking lot.

As for pedestrians, they must wait for the walk signal to change in their favor, and must always look both ways before crossing. If a pedestrian crosses against the walk signal, they could be liable for their own injuries.

Vehicular Manslaughter

A special case is that of vehicular manslaughter. A person commits vehicular manslaughter if they cause the death of another person by operating a motor vehicle recklessly.

In this context, recklessness refers to the state of mind where a person deliberately and unjustifiably pursues a course of action while consciously disregarding any risks flowing from such action. A reckless driver has chosen a course of action that constitutes a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.

If you were involved in an accident where someone died, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter. You may, however, be able to avoid criminal charges depending on the circumstances. Proving vehicular manslaughter can be tricky, as the state must show that you knew or believed that your conduct created a substantial risk of harm.

If you have been accused of vehicular manslaughter, you should consult with an attorney right away. An experienced lawyer can help you defend against these charges and understand the law.

Comparative Negligence and Pedestrians

Just like drivers, pedestrians have certain responsibilities, including the responsibility to use sidewalks and crossings safely. In case of an accident, the driver’s attorneys may try to show that the pedestrian was negligent—i.e. they ignored their responsibilities and were at fault. If, for example, you are a driver and crash as a result of swerving to avoid a pedestrian who ignored a red light and walked in the path of your car, you can seek compensation for your damages.

If this strategy is successful, then the court may decide on shared liability according to the comparative negligence rule. In such cases, the pedestrian is considered partially negligent or responsible for the accident. If their negligence is estimated to exceed 50%, they may be refused compensation for the accident. Indeed, they may even end up having to compensate the other party if they are found to be fully liable for the accident.

A typical example of shared liability is if the accident happened while you were trying to cross the street in an area where the driver had right of way. Other common examples of potential pedestrian liability include walking on a high-speed road where no pedestrians are allowed, not respecting traffic lights, and walking on the right side of a rural road instead of the left side as the law states.

Proving That the At-Fault Driver Was Negligent

Accidents involving pedestrians often occur because either or both of the parties failed to respect the right of way. Since pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections and crosswalks, it is perhaps unsurprising that only 18% of pedestrian deaths take place in intersections nationwide [3].

Unfortunately, drivers are often negligent in following the law. Just like the driver’s lawyer may try to prove that the pedestrian was negligent, the pedestrian’s attorney will have to prove that the driver was negligent. The attorney will also have to prove that the driver’s negligence resulted in the pedestrian’s personal injury—i.e. the injury was not preexisting or due to another factor.

In some cases, this is simple. If, for example, the pedestrian was hit by a car while crossing a crosswalk and had shown care by looking both ways before crossing, it is much easier to establish the driver’s liability. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

That is where a police report and the evidence the pedestrian collected at the scene of the accident becomes invaluable. For example, establishing the driver’s liability is much easier if the police report documents that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances at the time of the accident. The driver may also have been distracted by their mobile phone or other distraction, or they may have been speeding over the established speed limit. Finally, they may have failed to completely stop before a crosswalk to allow the pedestrian to cross at the crosswalk. All this information can be found in the police report or by talking to witnesses.

It is also important that the pedestrian has gone to the hospital following an injury, and that they have kept all receipts and medical information. One further complication arises from the fact that not all injuries are immediately noticeable. For example, a pedestrian may realize they have suffered an injury days after the accident.

Making sure that all the necessary information has been collected can be hard at the stressful time following an accident. That is why you should contact an experienced lawyer right away. Your attorney will guide you as to your next steps and ensure you have all the information you may need. Hiring a pedestrian traffic accident lawyer early will maximize your chances of filing a successful compensation claim.

An experienced traffic accident attorney can make all the difference between receiving the amount of compensation you deserve and very little—or none at all. Not only will an experienced lawyer help you collect all necessary evidence and protect you from any oversights, but they will also prepare your claim, thus letting you focus on the most important thing: recovering from the accident. Additionally, your attorney can advise you on the damages you can claim and handle communication and negotiation with insurance companies on your behalf. Should it become necessary, an experienced pedestrian accident attorney will also argue against comparative negligence in court.

State and Federal Safety Programs

The rise in pedestrian accidents has been noticed by both state and federal authorities, who have been trying to combat their causes using a number of grants and programs.

On a state level, the need to educate both pedestrians and drivers is clear, as Colorado has the fifth-highest percentage of pedestrian deaths that take place in intersections, reaching 29% (compared to 18% nationwide) [5]. Colorado supports four grants specific to pedestrian education, awareness, and enforcement. Additionally, the Office of Communications creates public relations materials and campaigns related to pedestrian education.

On the federal level, a number of federal programs aim at reducing pedestrian fatalities, including the following [4]:

  • Section 402. The State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program provides the states with the resources they need to meet their most pressing needs.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Focus States and Cities. Since 2004, the Safety Office of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has provided the cities and states with the highest pedestrian fatalities and/or fatality rates with extra resources in an effort to reduce pedestrian deaths. Part of this effort has included the How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, which helps state and local officials address pedestrian safety issues.
  • Section 405. Since 2017, approximately $14 million has been awarded to eligible states annually to decrease pedestrian crash fatalities. The states may use the funds to train law enforcement officials on pedestrian traffic laws, for pedestrian safety enforcement of these laws, and for education campaigns promoting pedestrian traffic laws.
  • Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). This program aims at a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads through engineering countermeasures.

Contact Legal Help in Colorado

The last thing you need is to stress over what happens after an accident involving a pedestrian. This is a time to focus on getting better; not worrying about missing deadlines and gathering paperwork.

Ross Ziev and the legal team at Legal Help in Colorado are experienced in pedestrian accidents. Our combined years of experience mean that your chances of success in getting a fair settlement are increased. We have acquired millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. Most importantly, we only get paid when we win your case, which means you can focus on getting better while we work on your case.

Reach out to us for a free initial consultation, irrespective of your income level or economic situation. Initial consultations are free and conducted with absolute confidence. We will listen to you, help you understand the law, and discuss your options, all without you having to pay any out-of-pocket fees. Contact Legal Help in Colorado online, call us at (303) 351-2567, or visit our offices at 6795 E. Tennessee Ave. #210, Denver, CO, 80224 to discuss your case!

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