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Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
The pedestrian injury legal team at Shane Smith Law provides responsive and caring legal services for victims of pedestrian car wrecks, hit-and-run pedestrian crashes, and crosswalk accidents. If you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian accident in Georgia, we can provide the legal advice you need and refer you to medical specialists who can help you with your physical recovery from your injuries.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
The sad fact is that most pedestrian could be prevented if either the driver or the pedestrian took safety precautions. Some common types of pedestrian accidents in Georgia include:
- A pedestrian crosses the road outside of a cross walk: Drivers expect pedestrians to cross in cross walks; they may not think to watch out for pedestrians at other locations. When a pedestrian unexpectedly crosses the road, the driver may have to slam on their brakes.
- A driver backs over a child from a driveway or parking space: Backover accidents commonly occur when the driver of a large vehicle doesn't see a small child in his blind spot. The driver puts the car in reverse and backs over the child. These accidents are often fatal.
- Road design errors make it hard for a pedestrian to be seen: If roads are poorly designed or poorly lit, drivers may not see pedestrians until it is too late to stop. In some Atlanta suburbs a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks puts pedestrians at risk.
- A pedestrian is struck by a speeding driver: Many Atlanta pedestrian accidents involve drivers travelling at high speeds. A driver who is speeding has less time to process the presence of a pedestrian and requires more stopping distance. A speeding driver appears to have come out of nowhere. The pedestrian may have done everything he was supposed to, but one cannot plan for drivers who are breaking the law.
- Drunk driving accidents: About one-third of Georgia pedestrian accidents involve a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drunk pedestrians also contribute to pedestrian accidents.
- Low visibility: Bad weather, glaring sun, and night can reduce visibility. A driver who does not see a pedestrian will not stop.
Some lesser expected causes behind pedestrian accidents include the following:
- Poor conditions on the sidewalk or curb—If a city or property owner fails to properly maintain a strip of sidewalk or curb, pedestrians may slip, trip, or fall as a result of any dangerous conditions, and those owners may be held liable for their negligent maintenance.
- Falling objects—If an object falls from a window, roof, or awning, it may land on top of a pedestrian who is walking underneath. This can cause serious injury, especially if the object is heavy or large.
- Construction accidents—At times, construction crews may fail to properly mark off construction zones or may not take all the necessary precautions to keep pedestrians safe. As a result, pedestrians may be injured by construction vehicles, unstable ground or materials, power tools, or more.
- Open manhole covers—Pedestrians fall into open manhole covers several times a year, more often than you may think. If utility companies leave manhole covers open, off-kilter, or damaged without any warnings, they should be held liable for any resulting pedestrian injuries.
- Distracted walking—People all too often use a handheld mobile device to text, message, or browse the internet while they walk down the street. Such distracted pedestrians may injure themselves or others in the process.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Even if the situation involves partial fault—you stepped into a crosswalk without looking for cars, or hazardous conditions—the car spun out on ice and hit you on the sidewalk, you may be eligible to receive damages for your injuries. You may have been told that you don't have a case, or that many lawyers won't take pedestrian injury cases. These cases aren’t always easy, but Shane Smith will take on the challenge to protect your rights.
He understands that a pedestrian accident can cause serious injuries, including:
- Fractures: Fractures (or broken bones) are the most commonly sustained Atlanta pedestrian accident injury. Pedestrian accidents rarely cause clean, easily healed fractures; instead, pedestrian accident fractures often involve crushed bones and may require extensive hospitalization - even surgery. Sometimes limbs are so damaged that they must be amputated. These fractures are very painful and victims may be unable to work for an extended period of time. Even after the injury has healed, the victim may still require physical therapy or rehabilitation.
- Brain Injuries: Brain injury is likely to occur if a pedestrian's head a car or the road. Brain injury can also occur if the body is suddenly jolted or thrown. Sometimes brain injury is mild and the damage heals with rest, but often pedestrian accidents result in permanent brain damage and lifelong disability. The cost of treating a brain injury may be well over a million dollars.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Signals from the brain to the rest of the body and carries signals to the body from the brain. A pedestrian accident can leave the spinal cord crushed, torn, severed or otherwise damaged. Depending on the severity of the damage, such injuries can cause partial or complete paralysis. Many spinal cord injuries are permanent.
Other serious injuries can include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
Most of these injuries are costly and can be life altering. Victims of pedestrian accidents are often left with life-long disability, chronic pain and expensive medical bills. And, the sad fact is many of these injuries could have been avoided. We understand that an accident can disrupt your life and leave you feeling vulnerable. As your attorney, Shane Smith will make sure you understand all of your options and give you the power to make the important decisions in your case.
Factors That Impact the Severity of a Pedestrian Injuries
The severity of injuries in a pedestrian accident often depends on several factors, such as:
- Angle of the impact
- Speed of the car
- The part of the body that first makes contact with the car
- The height and center of gravity of the pedestrian
- The size and design of the vehicle
Typically, a collision between a pedestrian and the front of the car has three separate impacts if the pedestrian is an adult. First, the bumper of the car often hits the lower leg or knee region. Second, the pedestrian is usually thrown onto the hood and windshield area of the car and is at risk for head and upper body injuries. Finally, the pedestrian is usually has an impact with the ground as they bounce off the hood or over the top of a car.
The most typical injuries in adult pedestrian accidents include musculoskeletal injuries such as leg fractures and tears in knee ligaments, as well as head and neck trauma, including traumatic brain injury. Children are more likely to suffer head and neck injuries than adults because of the differences in their centers of gravity and the position of the impact on their bodies.
Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents
Many times, drivers are at fault in pedestrian accidents. Common reasons a driver was at fault include:
- Running red lights or ignoring other traffic signals
- Failing to obey pedestrian right-of-way rules in crosswalks
- Driving while texting or otherwise distracted
- Driving while intoxicated
However, sometimes, the pedestrian is actually the one at fault in the accident. Common reasons pedestrians cause accidents include:
- Jaywalking (crossing without a crosswalk)
- Crossing when there is a Do Not Walk signal
- Walking along freeways or other roads that prohibit pedestrian traffic
- Walking while intoxicated
In many situations, both the driver and pedestrian may have contributed to the accident. In those cases, the pedestrian can usually recover as long as the driver is found to be more at fault.
Accident evidence is the key in effectively filing a claim in a pedestrian accident case. Georgia law entitles an injured pedestrian to collect damages if he is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
Compelling evidence illustrating that a pedestrian was not at fault determines the success of a claim. Pedestrians who are distracted by a cell phone, wearing earphones or who were jaywalking at the time of an accident have a more difficult case than those who were alert and had the right-of-way at the time of the accident.
Evidence can be obtained that will help in a pedestrian accident claim. This can include:
- Police reports, including toxicology results (if tests were administered by the police)
- Eyewitness accounts
- Accident scene photographs, including skid marks
- Security camera videotapes or still photos from a traffic cam
Important Georgia Pedestrian-Related Laws
Georgia laws aim to protect pedestrians. According to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) Section 40-6-93, drivers should "...exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian...and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person."
Similarly, O.C.G.A. Sec. 40-6-92 states that a pedestrian who is jaywalking or is already in the street when their light turns red (or the pedestrian signal changes to "Don't Walk") nevertheless has the right of way; vehicles must allow the pedestrian to finish crossing even though they may have a green light or green arrow. Even pedestrians using a crosswalk are supposed to yield to cars unless the pedestrians had already begun crossing. In other words, pedestrians must yield to cars if the pedestrians are not yet in the road and cars are approaching.
Many pedestrian injuries may require surgery, physical therapy, and doctor’s visits. In addition, people may have to miss time from work and lose out on income on which they are depending.
Some examples of medical costs that often accompany pedestrian injuries include:
- Surgery to correct the deformity and improve the alignment
- Orthopedic doctor visits
- Casting a broken bone
- Physical therapy
- Ongoing tests and follow-up visits
Other financial factors that must be considered include:
- Lost wages
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Funeral costs in the event of a fatal accident
Should I hire an attorney?Victims should seek the assistance of a pedestrian accident attorney to protect their rights by securing police reports, eyewitness testimony, and physical evidence and to deal with insurance representatives.
Will my auto insurance cover my injuries as a pedestrian?
Some auto insurance policies offer and cover damages suffered from a Georgia pedestrian accident. Uninsured motorist coverage may provide injured pedestrians with compensation if a driver does not have any or enough liability coverage to pay for the medical and associated damages suffered by the pedestrians. However, a complete and thorough investigation into both the at-fault party and the pedestrian to determine what the damages are and if coverage exists and what the levels might be.
How is fault determined in a pedestrian accident?
Fault is normally determined by the police and/or emergency responder’s report. Sincere there are so many variables and when a pedestrian becomes injured and certainly when a pedestrian is killed, neutral third-party law enforcement and medical professionals' reports, along with witnesses, traffic cameras, and other sources of evidence will be used to determine what happened to figure out which party or parties are at fault.
Will a pedestrian receive damages if he is at fault for the accident?
Under Georgia's contributory negligence system, a pedestrian may still be entitled to recover damages even if he is partially at fault. In the comparative fault system, a pedestrian's recovery is reduced by the percentage of the pedestrian at fault up to 49 percent. A pedestrian who is determined to have been at least 50 percent at fault for the accident would be precluded from receiving a damage award. However, if a pedestrian is found to be 25 percent at fault and his damages (past and anticipated medical expenses, loss of income, lost future earnings, pain, and suffering, etc.) are $200,000 then the damages would be reduced by 25 percent to $150,000.
Does a pedestrian always have the right of way?
Georgia law protects pedestrians but there are circumstances where a pedestrian may contribute to or be the cause of the accident. Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) Section 40-6-93 states that drivers should "...exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian...and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person." However, a pedestrian who does not behave as a reasonably prudent person would under the same circumstances may be held partially or entirely at fault.
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