Understandably, being hit by a car can be a life-altering, traumatic experience. In the aftermath that follows an accident, a lawsuit might be the furthest thing from the injured victim's mind. But if the accident occurred due to someone else's negligence, and you've suffered serious injuries, it is important to keep your legal options open. At Sacramento & Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm we help people understand what their legal rights are and assist them in obtaining just compensation for their injuries and damages.
Statistics of Pedestrian Injuries
Despite the many laws that encourage safety on California roads, every year there are accidents that involve pedestrians. Studies show that pedestrian fatalities have been rising since 2005, and can account for 15% of total traffic deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that about three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occur after dark and the majority of these are male. In 2014 alone there were over 4,000 pedestrian deaths and over 65,000 pedestrian injuries that were reported in the United States. These statistics are a sobering reminder that, as with every mode of travel, there are some risks associated with walking.
Responsibility of Drivers
California drivers have an obligation to be extra cautious when pedestrians are sharing the road with them. In personal injury law drivers are held to what is called "duty of responsible care" or "due care." This means that drivers are held to a standard of what a normal, prudent and careful person would do in the same circumstance.
For example, a driver has the right to operate his or her vehicle up to the posted maximum speed limit on any given road or highway. On a residential street in Sacramento that speed limit is usually 25 miles per hour. For the most part, normal drivers would slow down if they see a pedestrian is sharing the road with them and has no access to a sidewalk. More caution is taken if a driver notes that the pedestrian happens to be a young child on a small bike. In fact, most prudent drivers would not only slow their vehicle but, if able, move further away from the child to ensure his or her safety.
Driver's Negligence of "Due Care"
A few of the most common factors contributing to driver negligence are:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians
- Failure to adhere to traffic signs or signals
- Failure to signal while turning
- Disregarding weather and/or traffic conditions
- Driving under the influence
Responsibility of Pedestrians
Pedestrians have an obligation to exercise reasonable care for their own safety. There are a wide variety of circumstances that can happen while traveling, the amount of care must be proportionate to the danger that is to be avoided or the possible consequences anticipated. Failing to do so can lead to contributory negligence being assessed against the pedestrian. This suggests that the pedestrian may have contributed to his or her injury by being negligent of the obvious and known conditions.
Pedestrian's Negligence or failure to exercise "Due Care"
A few of the most common factors contributing to pedestrian negligence are:
- Ignoring the signals for pedestrians at an intersection
- Entering traffic and disrupting the flow
- Failing to use marked crosswalks
- Darting in front of a vehicle
It is not uncommon for the responsible party to attempt to lay blame on an innocent pedestrian. There are many factors that can come into play that complicate a pedestrian accident. It is wise to seek legal counsel if you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian-auto accident.
Common Pedestrian Injuries
Although most pedestrian injuries occur at the primary point of impact, others occur in the secondary. What does this mean? Secondary injuries happen when the force of the impact propels the pedestrian into another solid object. For example, the initial impact broke the pedestrian's left leg, but the force of the impact flung him against the pavement (secondary impact) dislocating his shoulder and fracturing his skull.
Injuries most common to pedestrians are:
- Bruising, abrasions, and laceration to the body
- Broken bones: to feet, legs, hands, arms, neck, back, and arms
- Head injury: concussions, brain swelling, hemorrhages, open head injuries
- Facial fractures, facial bruising, lacerations, and abrasions
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Torn and/or sprained ligaments
- Hematomas (blood clots)
- Organ damage
Have you been injured?
If you've been involved in a pedestrian accident, you should do the following:
- Call the police
- Seek medical help if you have been injured
- Wait until help arrives
- If you are physically able, gather names and contact information of any witnesses
- Obtain a personal copy of your police report
- Contact the motorist's insurance company, report the accident, and file your claim. (Do not give a recorded statement)
- Contact your insurance company to and report the accident (Do not give a recorded statement)
Hiring a Pedestrian Injury Lawyer
Choose a pedestrian accident lawyer in Sacramento & Elk Grove who specializes in personal injury and wrongful death claims, not a general practice attorney. Why? Personal injury law is intricate. A lawyer who specializes in it has the skill, experience, and reputation with insurance companies that can maximize your recovery. Check the attorney's ratings from Martindale-Hubbell and Avvo. Choose a lawyer who is highly experienced and trustworthy. Attorney John M. O'Brien has the highest possible peer rating with Martindale-Hubble, 5/5 or AV Preeminent, and a perfect 10 (superb) Avvo rating.
At Sacramento & Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm, we understand what you are going through, and we know how to help. We are a results-oriented law firm, committed to justice for each and every client we represent. We care about our clients and are always prompt in returning your phone calls and emails. We keep you in the loop at every stage of the process.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT THEIR CASES
Exercising my legal rights to sue, I didn't know what to expect. I am grateful to Mr. O'Brien for always being available and making it an easy process. I will definitely choose him again.
Mr. O'Brien's reliable and trustworthy services were more than I could have hoped for. The settlement he obtained for my accident was beyond expectations. My family and I greatly appreciate your help!
Mr. O'Brien treated my case better than I imagined it was possible. Owing to his diligence and professionalism we settled rapidly. Also, the compensation received was more than I expected. Thank you!
No other lawyer returned my calls before. Mr. O'Brien was always available, that is why I felt he cares about me and my case. Also, it was obvious that he has plenty of experience.
We are grateful to Mr. Zehnder for solving our personal injury case. We were impressed by his personal care, patience, and dedication. We regret not having contacted Mr. Zehnder from the beginning.
Just a note to say "thank you," you made us (finally) feel like we were important! Thanks again for all of your time and efforts. Please tell Kathy and Brenda the same!
Joan & Bob
You and your staff made this process go very smoothly. Also, you went above and beyond and exceeded all expectations. I will definitely contact you for any future mishaps.
As I reflect back on the events of the past three years, I see what a huge part you have played in our lives and I am so grateful.