In San Jose and across the country, motor vehicle operators are supposed to yield the right-of-way and accommodate pedestrians and people on foot. According to recent statistics, however, pedestrians face more danger now than in the 1980s.
A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows pedestrian deaths reached a four-decade high in the U.S. in 2021 – nearly 7,500 people or an average of 20 fatalities each day. That same report ranked California at the top of the list with 958 deaths in 2021. Locally, another report showed that nearly 50% of all traffic fatalities in San Jose involve a pedestrian death, including seven people in the first three weeks of 2022.
Personal injury attorney James Suits of Suits Litigation is dedicated to helping pedestrian accident victims and their families recover compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been seriously injured due to a negligent or reckless car, truck, or motorcycle driver, you need an experienced lawyer to handle your case.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
If all drivers complied with traffic laws, virtually all pedestrian accidents could be prevented. Unfortunately, the alarming number of pedestrian injuries each year demonstrates that too many drivers fail to take their responsibility seriously by:
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or marijuana.
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving.
- Failing to pay attention to the road, especially at night or in poor weather.
- Not yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks when they have the right of way.
- Blocking other drivers’ views of pedestrians.
- Backing up in parking lots and other locations without watching for pedestrians, especially young children.
Drunk Driving and Drugged Driving Kill
Not surprisingly, impaired drivers pose the greatest threat to pedestrians. The Centers for Disease Control determined that one of every ten pedestrian deaths involves a driver with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter, which exceeds the legal limit in all U.S. states.
The San Jose Police Department has declared that “in recent years, there’s been a disturbingly high number of pedestrian fatalities,” citing alcohol and drug influence as leading factors.
Where Do Most Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
Pedestrian accidents frequently happen on state and city roads, near areas with larger populations and where traffic congestion can be the highest. In 2020, for instance, over 70% of total pedestrian accidents arose on city streets, while another 20% occurred on state routes. The remaining pedestrian accidents occurred on highways and larger thoroughfares.
Parking lots can be dangerous, too. A National Safety Poll U.S. poll asked U.S. drivers about their activities while driving through parking lots. Responses included:
- Programming GPS navigation systems – 66%.
- Personal grooming (59% of teens, 53% of adults).
- Texting – 56%.
- Using social media – 52%.
- Sending or receiving email – 50%.
- Taking photos or watching videos – 49%.
The number of accidents increases around the holidays, starting with Black Friday when consumers flock to malls and shopping centers.
Initiating a San Jose Pedestrian Injury Claim
If a motor vehicle injured you while walking in San Jose or elsewhere in California, you could bring legal action against the operator and owner of that vehicle. But you should never initiate a claim without consulting an attorney. Auto insurers don’t make money by paying compensation to the people their policyholders harm and are not on your side.
Sometimes, carriers settle claims before a lawsuit is filed, but the data shows you will receive a lower payout than if a lawyer represented you. If a case is brought to court, you must prove that the driver violated a duty of care and that the driver’s breach of that duty caused your injuries. In many pedestrian accident claims, meeting that threshold isn’t difficult.
Recoverable Damages in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Once you prove the driver or another party is liable for your pedestrian accident injuries, you must next establish the damages you sustained because of the other party’s liability.
Damages are primarily separated into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the financial harm you suffer, such as:
- Past and future medical care and treatment.
- Lost income, beginning with the accident and into the future.
- Lost earning capacity.
- Replacement services (related to household or daily living costs).
- Costs of activities you can no longer do yourself.
Non-economic damages cover injuries that are more difficult to place a value on, including:
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental and emotional distress.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Your spouse’s loss of consortium.
To reduce the amount of money it may have to pay, an insurance company may argue that the pedestrian shares responsibility for the accident. Under California’s comparative negligence law, pedestrians who are partially to blame for a collision will have their damages award reduced by their percentage of fault.
This is where having the assistance of an experienced San Jose personal injury lawyer can be helpful. An attorney will advocate with the insurance company and the court on your behalf, explaining why you were not at fault, potentially increasing the settlement award offered by the insurance company.
Consult California Pedestrian Accident Lawyer James Suits Today
If you or someone you care about was recently injured by a motor vehicle while walking, please contact veteran pedestrian injury attorney James Suits for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights. At Suits Litigation, we take an individualized approach to every matter we handle and every client we represent. We get to know you, your family, and how the accident affects your life.
California law gives you only a short amount of time to bring a legal claim. To learn more about how we can help you, call us today to schedule an initial meeting.