There have been two recent pedestrian accidents in Alameda. In one incident, a 17-year old girl was hit at the intersection of High St. and Encinal Avenue by a hit and run driver. In the other, a man was killed on Doolittle as he was walking along the side of the road (his car had been impounded by the Alameda police because he was an unlicensed driver). A number of Alameda residents have voiced concerns about the safety of Alameda streets. These recently well publicized cases bring a couple of points to mind. Are pedestrian accidents on the rise? What can be done to help further reduce the number of pedestrian collisions? If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, how can your auto insurance help you out?
Interestingly, the number of pedestrian accidents has actually declined over the past ten years. A study by the NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Association, showed a 14% decrease in the number of pedestrian fatalities nationwide since 2000. In 2009, there were 4,092 fatalities and an estimated 59,000 injuries due to pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian fatalities represented 12% of all motor vehicle related deaths. 48% of the pedestrian deaths involved alcohol use by either the pedestrian or the driver.
NHTSA recommends the following practices to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths.
- Drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing streets in marked or unmarked crosswalks. This is especially true in situations where drivers are turning right onto another street into the path of pedestrians.
- When possible pedestrians should cross at designated crosswalks. Always look left and right before crossing, and if a parked car is blocking your view, stop at the edge line of the vehicles and look before coming around it and entering the street.
- Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight or retro-reflective clothing.
- It is much safer to walk on the sidewalk, but if you must walk on the road, walk facing traffic.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, there may be responsibility on the part of the other driver, on behalf of public entities who maintain the roadway, or on behalf of your own auto insurance carrier if the accident involves a hit and run or uninsured driver.
Where an accident is caused by an insured driver, an injured person can make a personal injury claim against that person’s insurance company. In that claim the person can recover for their medical bills, lost wages, future lost earnings, and for pain and suffering.
Sometimes the pedestrian accident can be caused because the particular roadway, intersection or sidewalk was either designed poorly or was not properly maintained. If a dangerous condition of public property was a cause of the injury, a claim can be filed against the responsible entity responsible for maintaining the property. A government claim must be filed within six months of the date of the injury or it will be barred by law in most instances.
Finally, if an injury is caused by a hit and run driver, or an uninsured driver, you should have recourse to your own automobile insurance policy. This is true even if the person injured is a minor in the household and is not of driving age. Every auto policy in California is required by law to include uninsured motorist coverage unless the policy holder specifically declines the coverage in writing. This coverage will provide for compensation for all medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering damages up to the full amount of the amount covered.
As an Alameda personal injury lawyer, I have represented many injured pedestrians over the years. The injuries are often serious and permanent in their repercussions. By following the recommendations above, hopefully we can continue to help reduce the numbers of these types of injuries.