Car crashes cause plenty of damage on their own. But when a pedestrian is hit by something as large and heavy as a vehicle, the results can be truly catastrophic.
Pedestrians don’t have the same protection that occupants of cars do. Instead, they must rely on the attentiveness and respect of drivers when their paths cross. When someone neglects their responsibilities in traffic, pedestrians often suffer the worst consequences.
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do next. An experienced Southfield pedestrian accident lawyer can provide much-needed advice about your legal rights and options.
Reach out to Christensen Law in Southfield, MI for help. For years, our compassionate legal team has fought for the rights of injured people throughout Michigan. We’ll protect your interests and argue for full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Getting started is simple. Just call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
Every pedestrian accident is one too many — and unfortunately, these collisions are getting deadlier. The Federal Highway Administration reports that pedestrian deaths have increased 53 percent over the past decade.
Michigan’s statistics are disturbing as well. According to the 2019-2022 Michigan Pedestrian and Bicycle Act Safety Plan, nearly 2,500 collisions killed 158 pedestrians and injured 1,945 more in one year alone.
While every pedestrian accident is different, the majority are preventable tragedies that occur due to someone else’s negligence. Common types of pedestrian accidents include:
- Drunk driving accidents: Drunk drivers are more likely to speed, behave erratically, and fail to notice pedestrians crossing the street, especially in poor weather. These accidents are a leading cause of fatal pedestrian injuries.
- Distracted driving accidents: Drivers who are fiddling with the radio, texting, or talking on the cell phone are not focused fully on the road ahead of them. Distracted drivers are less likely to see or react safely near pedestrians.
- Reckless driving accidents: Speeding, weaving between lanes, and other forms of reckless driving are common in hurried, aggressive drivers. Unfortunately, the unpredictable nature of reckless drivers presents a huge risk to pedestrians.
- Left-hand turn accidents: When drivers turn left, they must cross traffic and accelerate into the turn. It can be hard for motorists to spot pedestrians when they’re also focused on avoiding oncoming traffic.
- Crosswalk accidents: Jaywalking or failing to heed crosswalk signals can create dangerous situations in traffic intersections.
- School zone accidents: Young children represent the highest risk group for pedestrian accidents due to their smaller size and impulsive natures. People driving through school zones have a greater duty of care to all pedestrians.
What Are the Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
Pedestrian accidents happen quickly and often have more than one cause. Drivers frequently collide with pedestrians due to inattention, but traffic law violations by both motorists and people on foot can heighten risk for everyone involved. Typical causes of many pedestrian accidents include:
- Running red lights: Drivers who run red lights or stop signs are a frequent cause of serious and fatal pedestrian injuries in intersections.
- Drunkenness or intoxication: Intoxicated drivers are undeniably a danger to pedestrians. But it’s important to note that pedestrians can also put themselves in danger when they’ve been drinking. According to the Michigan Pedestrian and Bicycle Act Safety Plan, 80 percent of pedestrians killed in accidents in a recent year had been drinking.
- Distractions or recklessness: Drivers who are fatigued, speeding, or texting are much less likely to notice pedestrians on the road. Likewise, those on foot who are absorbed in phone messages or other distractions put themselves at risk, too.
- Failure to yield the right of way: The old saying that “pedestrians always have the right of way” is a myth. In truth, the right of way changes depending on the traffic scenario. For this reason, it’s important for pedestrians and drivers alike to pay constant attention.
- Failure to signal turns: Turn signals are a crucial safety feature, and they’re not just for motorists. Drivers who neglect to signal their turns properly can blindside pedestrians close by, causing collisions that result in severe injuries.
- Disobeying traffic signs: Similar to those who run red lights, drivers or pedestrians who ignore traffic warnings like yield signs or crosswalk signals put pedestrians in harm’s way.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Standard passenger cars are big and heavy, with solid steel frames and an average weight of more than 4,000 pounds. But even a motorcycle or ordinary bicycle can be destructive when it collides with a human body at high speed.
Pedestrians are small, lightweight, and certainly don’t have high-tech safety features to cushion them in a collision. That means injuries they sustain are frequently serious, if not life-changing. Some of the most common pedestrian accidents injuries include:
- Head injuries (e.g., concussions and traumatic brain injuries)
- Skull fractures, facial injuries, scarring, and disfigurement
- Neck and shoulder injuries (e.g., whiplash)
- Spinal cord injuries (e.g., paralysis, herniated discs, nerve damage)
- Arm and leg injuries (e.g., fractures or amputations)
- Back injuries (e.g., sprains, strains)
- Abdominal injuries (e.g., internal bleeding)
- Emotional distress (e.g., PTSD or depression)
- Wrongful death
Pedestrian Liability: Is the Pedestrian Ever at Fault?
It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which someone traveling on foot could be entirely responsible for hitting a motor vehicle. Just like anyone else, pedestrians are expected to follow certain rules when they travel along public paths.
In Michigan, pedestrians have the right of way when they are on the same half of the road as an approaching vehicle. They should:
- Cross streets only at designated crosswalks or crossing areas. Look left, right, then left again before proceeding.
- Walk on the side of the road as far to the left as possible, against oncoming traffic, or along paved shoulders if no sidewalks are available.
- Avoid walking on the main traveled portion of a highway.
- Obey relevant traffic signs and signals.
- Stop to look both ways down a street if vehicles are at a stop and blocking the view.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Wear highly visible or reflective clothing at night.
- Stay observant in parking areas, especially when walking with small children.
No Fault Laws vs. Third-Party Pedestrian Accident Lawsuits
Michigan is a no-fault state when it comes to auto accidents. Under the law, pedestrians can seek compensation for injuries sustained in collisions through the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from their own car insurance policies.
In large cities like Detroit, many pedestrians don’t own cars and rely on public transportation to get around town. Since they have no auto insurance policy, they can file for PIP benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan up to a maximum of $250,000.
However, if the injuries are catastrophic, a pedestrian may be eligible to file a third-party negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver(s). However, even if a driver clearly bears the overwhelming majority of fault in a pedestrian accident, his or her insurance provider may point to any pedestrian traffic violations as proof that the driver should not be held responsible. Michigan’s modified comparative negligence laws are in place to help resolve these disputes.
Modified comparative negligence gives an injured victim a chance to recover compensation even if he or she partly to blame for the accident. However, the damages will be reduced based on the portion of fault he or she is assigned for the accident.
If a pedestrian is deemed more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, he or she could still recover compensation for medical expenses and future lost earnings. But the law would not allow the victims to claim any non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
The process of determining fault is complicated and highly subjective, so you should never make any assumptions or admissions about your own guilt before consulting with a skilled pedestrian accident attorney.
What Damages Can Be Recovered After Being Hit by a Car?
Since no two collisions are the same, there’s no such thing as a standard settlement amount for pedestrian injuries.
Many factors can influence the ultimate settlement amount. The severity of the injuries, the length and nature of any resulting medical treatments, and how the accident has affected the victim’s daily life all play a role.
In Michigan, pedestrians can obtain compensation for:
- Economic losses: This includes financial losses such as current and future medical expenses that are not covered by no-fault insurance, lost income not covered by no-fault insurance, loss of future earnings, and daily stipends to assist with the expenses of household chores.
- Noneconomic losses: These benefits cover the human costs of suffering from things like physical pain, emotional distress, decreased quality or enjoyment of life, and cases of wrongful death.
Working with a proven lawyer after a pedestrian accident can help ensure that an appropriate value on your case is placed on your case and that you don’t settle for less than what you deserve.
Contact a Southfield Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
Have you been hurt? A Southfield pedestrian accident injury lawyer at Christensen Law will fights for the compensation you are owed for your injuries.
Call or fill out our online contact form now for your free initial case review.