Pedestrian injury and fatality statistics
Pedestrians are much likelier to suffer severe injuries or to be killed when they are struck by cars or other vehicles. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pedestrians are one-and-one-half times likelier to be killed in car accidents during each trip that they take than are people who are occupying motor vehicles. In 2016, the CDC reports that 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. In 2015, 129,000 pedestrians sought treatment for non-fatal injuries in emergency departments in hospitals around the nation.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that 158 pedestrians were killed in collisions with vehicles in 2017. In addition, 986 pedestrians suffered injuries in accidents. In 38.6% of the accidents, the pedestrians did not contribute to them. Instead, the motorists were at fault. Pedestrians were at fault or were partially at fault in 60.9% of the injury and fatality accidents.
These statistics demonstrate the dangers to pedestrians of being injured or killed in accidents. They also illustrate that both the pedestrians and drivers may be at fault in causing their accidents, making it important for both to take steps to prevent pedestrian collisions from occurring.
South Carolina pedestrian laws
Under the laws of South Carolina, both pedestrians and motorists have certain duties when they are traveling on the roadways. Drivers in the state owe duties of care to pedestrians to do the following:
• Yield to pedestrians who are using crosswalks under S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-3130
• Under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3200, motorists must stop their vehicles when blind or disabled people are attempting to cross with canes or guide dogs
• Use caution and due care to avoid causing pedestrian accidents under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3230
• Not pass other vehicles that are stopped at crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3130(d)
• Avoid driving through safety zones under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3240
In addition to these pedestrian-specific duties that are owed by motorists, the motorists must also follow the traffic laws. This means that they should not speed, ignore traffic control devices, engage in distracted driving practices, drive while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or drive while they are drowsy. All of these types of driver behaviors can cause accidents, including pedestrian crashes.
Pedestrians have the following responsibilities:
• Follow all traffic control devices and signals under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3110
• Use tunnels, bridges, or crosswalk when possible or yield to vehicles in areas without crosswalks under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3150
• Use the right half of the crosswalks under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3140
• Not cross roads in a diagonal unless the road and crosswalk are designed for such crossings under S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-3150
Like drivers, pedestrians also have a number of other responsibilities. If they are walking at night, they should wear clothing that is visible. Pedestrians should avoid walking while they are intoxicated and should avoid using headphones or texting while they are crossing the streets.
Common causes of accidents involving pedestrians in Myrtle Beach
There are a number of common causes of accidents involving pedestrians in Myrtle Beach, including the following:
- Motorists failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Drivers running through traffic lights and stop signs
- Drivers failing to check for pedestrians when they turn at intersections
- Driver distraction
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Failing to notice pedestrians
- Pedestrians wearing dark clothing at night
- Pedestrians talking or texting on their phones while they cross streets
- Pedestrians who are intoxicated
- Crossing streets at areas other than crosswalks or intersections
- Poor visibility due to bushes, trees, and other visual obstructions
- Faulty road design
- Lack of sidewalks
Both pedestrians and drivers need to understand the causes of accidents and remain alert so that they can avoid them.
What occurs after pedestrian accidents?
After a pedestrian accident, the driver’s insurance company may try to dispute liability in an effort to avoid paying the injured victim’s claim or the claim of the victim’s family members. Insurance companies frequently try to blame the pedestrian instead of admitting that the driver was at fault. An insurance company may also try to argue that the pedestrian’s injuries are not as severe as he or she claims.
In some cases, the motorist’s insurance policy will not be sufficient to cover all of the losses that the pedestrian has suffered. Pedestrians who are injured in accidents may suffer catastrophic injuries and require ongoing medical care that can quickly exhaust the policy limits. If the pedestrian has underinsured motorist coverage, he or she can submit a claim to his or her own insurance company in addition to filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s policy. Underinsured motorist coverage will pay the difference between the policy limits of the at-fault driver’s policy up to the policy limits of the UIM coverage.
After the accident, the insurance company will try to contact the injured pedestrian. The insurance representative may ask the injured victim to give a recorded statement or to sign an authorization for the release of his or her medical records. Injured people should never agree to give recorded statements or to sign authorizations. They also should not agree to accept an offer of settlement without first talking to an experienced injury lawyer. An attorney can handle the negotiations for the victim on his or her behalf and might be better-positioned to properly value the claim.
How a personal injury attorney might be able to help
Personal injury lawyers in South Carolina who are experienced with handling pedestrian accident claims may have a thorough understanding of the defense strategies that are commonly used by insurance companies. This can help them to anticipate and counter the arguments that might be raised by the defendants. Lawyers may also work with accident reconstruction experts, investigators, and medical experts to build strong cases that clearly show the liability of the motorist and the extent of the pedestrians’ injuries. Even if a case does not go to trial, preparing it thoroughly may help the attorney to secure a fair settlement that pays for all of the victim’s economic and noneconomic losses. If the insurance company fails to make a fair offer of settlement, the attorney may file a formal lawsuit and litigate for his or her client through the court process and trial. Contact a personal injury lawyer at the Lovely Law Firm today for a free consultation.