When it comes to staying safe on the roads, pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable people. Every year, thousands are hit by cars, and many of these accidents result in serious injuries or even death. Most of these accidents are preventable, however, and understanding the leading causes can help keep you safe. Negligence is the number one cause of pedestrian accidents. This can take many forms, but generally speaking, it occurs when a driver fails to take reasonable care to avoid harming others. However, proving negligence can be difficult, as it requires showing that the driver did not act as a reasonably careful person would have under the same circumstances.
In North Carolina, there are several specific laws in place to help protect pedestrians. For example, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are crossing at marked crosswalks or intersections with stoplights or stop signs. Consequently, if a driver hits a pedestrian who is crossing in one of these areas, the driver will likely be found at fault. There are several other factors that can contribute to these types of accidents and have further been discussed below.
Inattention or Distraction
Among the most common causes of pedestrian accidents worldwide is driver inattention or distraction. With the increased use of electronic devices such as phones, this has become a serious problem. Drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, or otherwise not paying attention to the road are much more likely to hit a pedestrian, especially if the pedestrian is crossing in an unmarked area.
Drivers going too fast have less time to react to potential hazards and can fail to spot pedestrians until it’s too late. This can lead to tragic accidents, even at low speeds. Motorists should be extremely careful, especially when driving through high-traffic areas or places where pedestrians are likely to be present.
Drunk drivers have slowed reflexes, impaired judgment, and poor coordination, which makes it more difficult for them to avoid an accident. Most courts are very strict when it comes to drunk driving, and a driver who hits a pedestrian while under the influence can be facing serious penalties, including punitive ones.
Other times, it is the pedestrian who makes the mistake. For example, jaywalking (crossing outside a crosswalk) can be dangerous, as drivers may not be expecting someone to be crossing in that area. Pedestrians should always use caution when crossing the street and make sure to only do so in marked crosswalks or at intersections with stoplights or stop signs. Being a contributory cause to an accident usually does not absolve a driver of liability, but it may result in a reduction of damages. However, North Carolina is among the very few states that have a pure contributory negligence rule, which means that if a pedestrian is even partially at fault for an accident, they cannot recover any damages from the driver. This can make it difficult to recover damages after an accident, so it is crucial to get in contact with a pedestrian accident lawyer at Riddle & Brantley in North Carolina to help ascertain liability.
Whereas North Carolina has several laws in place to help protect pedestrians, the number one leading cause of pedestrian accidents is driver negligence. Inattention and distraction, speeding, intoxication, and sometimes pedestrian error also contribute to these types of accidents. If you have been hit by a car while walking, it is important to seek legal counsel to help you understand your rights.