Speed is usually the most critical factor in pedestrian injuries. If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is travelling slower than 30mph at the time of impact, the pedestrian death rate is less than 10 percent. But the fatality rate skyrockets to 90 percent if the tortfeasor is moving faster than 40mph.
Most pedestrian accidents involve high speeds, because most such incidents occur outside marked crosswalks and outside of intersections. Compounding this issue even further, most Fort Worth streets were designed to move vehicle traffic as fast as possible. So, they are mostly straight and have mostly high speed limits.
If you or a loved one was hurt in a pedestrian accident, it’s important to reach out to an experienced Fort Worth personal injury lawyer. These cases are difficult, but not impossible, to win.
Establishing Liability in Pedestrian Injury Claims
Negligence, or a lack of ordinary care, causes most pedestrian accidents. This lack of care could be a violation of a safety law, or a violation of the duty of reasonable care.
Distracted driving is a good example. Texas lawmakers recently approved a tougher distracted driving law which basically bans hand-held cell phone use while driving. So, drivers who use these devices and hit pedestrians may be liable for damages as a matter of law.
But this law does not cover other activities that are just as distracting, such as using a hands-free cell phone. If drivers over-use these devices and cause crashes, they could be liable for damages, even though such conduct is technically legal.
Victim/plaintiffs need evidence to prove their claims by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Such evidence usually includes the victim/plaintiff’s own testimony, the police accident report, and witness statements. Electronic evidence, such as video camera footage and Event Data Recorder information, could be vital as well.
Overcoming the Sudden Emergency Defense
In court documents, insurance company lawyers often claim that pedestrian victims “darted out into traffic” and the tortfeasor was unable to avoid the collision. This language sets up the sudden emergency defense, which has two basic elements:
- Reasonable reaction to
- A sudden emergency.
The first element is usually present in pedestrian accidents. When they hit people, most drivers pull over. The second element, however, is another story.
In this context, a “sudden emergency” is a hood fly-up or another completely unexpected situation. A jaywalking pedestrian does not fit this definition. Such people are more like stalled cars or large potholes. Drivers see these things on almost every trip, so they should be prepared to avoid them.
Therefore, the sudden emergency defense usually does not apply in pedestrian injury claims.
Injured pedestrians may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.