Pedestrians Almost Always Have the Right of Way

Pedestrians always have the right of way - Brockton Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Noonan Law

Whether you’re walking through your neighborhood or hustling through downtown Boston on foot, you expect to arrive at your destination safely. You certainly don’t expect to be struck by a vehicle.

Nothing can ruin your day more than getting hit by a vehicle while walking. The resulting injuries are often severe and may even be life-threatening. Because you don’t have the protection of a car frame, your body absorbs the entire force of the impact with the vehicle. Even if the vehicle is traveling at a slow speed, you may potentially face life-altering, permanent injuries.

If you were in a pedestrian accident, you should speak with a skilled and trusted personal injury attorney in Massachusetts as soon as possible. The experienced legal team at theLaw Offices of Gerald J. Noonan is ready to enforce your legal rights.

Types of Pedestrian Accidents

In Massachusetts, pedestrians almost always have the right of way, which means that if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident, the driver of the vehicle that struck you is generally liable for the accident and your subsequent injuries.

Some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Texting
  • Failing to yield
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Speeding
  • Faulty vehicle maintenance

It’s not your fault that a negligent driver struck you. Make sure you retain adequate legal representation to help you get back on your feet and seek compensation.

Steps to Take Immediately After an Accident

If you or a loved one sustains an injury in a pedestrian accident, you should immediately take the following steps:

  • Call 911.First and foremost, you want to make sure everyone involved is okay, which starts with a call to emergency services. When you call 911, the dispatcher will send police and an ambulance, if needed, to your location. The police officers will write and file a police report. While this report may not specifically cite the negligent driver for being at fault in your accident, the report will provide detailed information about the accident scene, which may prove useful for us later when defending your claim.
  • Seek medical attention. Do not refuse medical attention, even if you think you are uninjured following an accident. Not only do you want to make sure that you’re alright, but also you want medical records of any injuries that you’ve sustained, which will enable your attorney to better calculate how much compensation you should seek in a personal injury claim.
  • Take pictures. If you’re healthy and feel safe doing so, take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, any property damage, and the vehicle that struck you. These pictures may prove extremely helpful later if you end up filing a lawsuit.
  • Get witness contact information. Witnesses may not stick around following an accident to wait for the police, but you may need their statements later to help prove that the driver was at fault in your accident. Ensuring that you get their contact information before they leave will provide your attorney with the opportunity to speak with them later.
  • Call the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan. You deserve an experienced personal injury attorney with proven results. At the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, we are here to help you get back on your feet following a pedestrian accident.

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Because pedestrians don’t have the protection of a vehicle frame around them, their bodies suffer the full vehicle impact in the event of a pedestrian accident. This can result in many types of injuries, including the following:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The most common TBI is a concussion, which occurs when you suffer a violent blow to the head or another part of the body that causes the brain to move.
  • Spinal cord injuries (SCI). A serious blow to the body can also cause SCI, which may result in paralysis if there is serious damage to an individual’s spinal cord. These injuries are generally severe and can result in life-altering consequences.
  • Broken bones. Broken bones are common in pedestrian-car accidents. While injured people can often make a full recovery, it may take a significant amount of time and can cause serious hardship in the meantime.
  • Death. The most extreme injury that an individual can face is death, which is most often caused by a combination of the force from the vehicle and the lack of protection that a pedestrian generally has while walking.

Every injury is unique and depends on the circumstances of the accident that caused it. However, it’s important to remember that, if you did not cause your accident, then you should not have to pay any of the bills associated with your recovery.

Head And Brain Injuries

Massachusetts law requires drivers to give pedestrians the right of way at intersections, so a pedestrian that crossed the street with a reasonable amount of care (i.e., first looking both ways), is almost always be entitled to damages if they were hit by a vehicle. In many cases, it turns out that the responsible driver was speeding, talking on his cell phone, or simply not paying attention—and he may also have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also may be the case that a traffic light malfunctioned, or that the municipality has already been alerted about an especially dangerous intersection and has done nothing to remedy the problem.

Economic Damages May Help Cover the Cost of Medical Expenses

Pedestrians always bear the brunt of the impact in accidents when they are struck by a car or truck. Unfortunately, in most cases injured pedestrians usually sustain significant and catastrophic injuries that require extensive medical treatment resulting in significant medical expenses. Often times, injured pedestrians sustain life altering physical impairments that limit their ability to perform their job duties. This can result in a significant loss of income and earning capacity.

Non-Economic Losses Are Also Real, and You May be Entitled to Compensation

Non-economic losses involving pain and suffering, mental anguish, and an inability to engage in once favorite hobbies or activities not only diminishes the quality of the injured pedestrian’s life, it also impacts the lives of family members and loved ones that once shared in those activities.  In some cases, you may be entitled to compensation for non-economic losses, in addition to receiving compensation for economic damages (medical expenses and lost income).

Nighttime Accidents

Car Accidents Attorneys, Boston

When a car, truck or motorcycle hits a pedestrian, the accident is almost always the fault of the driver of the vehicle. By law, pedestrians in Massachusetts practically always have the right of way regardless of the circumstances of the accident.

Massachusetts law generally favors pedestrians by giving them the right of way:

  • G.L. c. 90, § 14—Upon approaching a pedestrian who is walking on the street and not upon a sidewalk, every person operating a motor vehicle shall slow down;
  • 720 CMR 9.06(28) &350 CMR 4.01(8) –Failing to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian

Pedestrian Appears Suddenly From Darkness

A motor vehicle operator will be found responsible for a pedestrian accident if the evidence shows the pedestrian was in view of the operator for enough time before the collision to allow the operator to safely stop or avoid the pedestrian.

Jaywalking Accidents

Jaywalking Pedestrian Accident Victim AttorneyA driver might be responsible for a pedestrian accident even if the pedestrian did not use an available crosswalk and crossed the street at a point between crosswalks.  That is because a pedestrian has a right to travel anywhere on a highway or street and not merely on the crosswalk.

It should be noted that from the pedestrian’s point of view, a violation of the jaywalking statute (M.G.L. c. 90, § 18A) cannot be used as evidence in court to prove a pedestrian was negligent and therefore responsible for the accident.

Drivers in Massachusetts always have an obligation to be on the lookout for pedestrians and must exercise care when driving in order to avoid pedestrian accident. Driving a car at an unreasonable rate of speed in all the circumstances may be evidence of the operator’s negligence, as may her failure to slow when approaching a pedestrian. A driver will likely be considered negligent and responsible for a pedestrian accident if he violates any of the following laws:

  • G.L. c. 90, § 14—Upon approaching a pedestrian who walking on the street and not upon a sidewalk, every person operating a motor vehicle shall slow down;
  • 720 CMR 9.06(28) &350 CMR 4.01(8) –Failing to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian

Driver’s have been found responsible in Massachusetts for the following pedestrian accidents:

  • Driver responsible when a pedestrian saw an oncoming car and formed a mistaken but reasonable judgment that he could safely pass in front of the car, or that he reasonably relied on the motorist to see him and stop in time to avoid accident him;
  • Driver responsible even when a pedestrian stepped into the path of an approaching car, in a case where the approaching car accelerated quickly after the pedestrian moved from the place of safety into the car’s eventual path or travel;
  • Driver responsible even when a pedestrian on a rainy night, having seen a truck approaching him from about 200 feet away and to his left, crossed a wide street, and having come nearly to the white line in the middle of the way, paused there to avoid stepping into the path of automobiles approaching from their right, and where at that point was hit and  injured by the defendant truck driver.

Intersection Accidents

A pedestrian is 4 times more likely to be struck by a left turning vehicle at an intersection than a vehicle taking a right turn at an intersection. So what is it about left turns that makes them so dangerous?

One of the biggest causes of left turning pedestrian intersection accidents deals with the fact that a left turning driver has a green the same time as a pedestrian has a walk light. This puts both the driver and the pedestrian in the intersection at the same time. In this situation, the pedestrian always has the right of way.

Making a left turn in a motor vehicle is one of the most dangerous maneuvers a driver can make on the road. Making a left turn at an intersection with traffic signals is even more dangerous. What’s amazing is that approximately 25% of all pedestrian intersection accidents occur when a car is making a left hand turn at the intersection. Therefore, a left turning motor vehicle at intersection represents a considerable threat to pedestrians.

A pedestrian is 4 times more likely to be struck by a left turning vehicle at an intersection than a vehicle taking a right turn at an intersection. So what is it about left turns that makes them so dangerous?

Taking left turns at intersections is more demanding than taking right turns for a few reasons. Most drivers have more problems visually detecting pedestrians while making left turns at intersections. One reason is that drivers tend to turn their head to the right more than the left when taking left turns. A driver’s peripheral vision is also reduced more so when taking a left turn than a right turn which limits their ability to detect pedestrians in their peripheral vision. Also, the metal frame that surrounds the windshield (A-pillar) along with the driver’s side door frame creates a visual impediment that obstructs the driver’s view to the left. This creates a blind spot that can obscure a pedestrian crossing on the left.

One of the biggest causes of left turning pedestrian intersection accidents deals with the fact that a left turning driver has a green the same time as a pedestrian has a walk light. This puts both the driver and the pedestrian in the intersection at the same time. In this situation, the pedestrian always has the right of way.

Traffic Laws

The following is list of some of the traffic laws that give pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks:

  • The pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk—M.G.L. c. 89, § 11
  • Vehicle operators shall not enter a crosswalk unless crossing can be completed—720 CMR 9.06(6)(b)
  • Vehicle operators shall not pass a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk—M.G.L. c. 89, § 1, 350 CMR 4.01(8)
  • Vehicle Operator must yield to pedestrian at crosswalk—720 CMR 9.06(27)

Crosswalk Accidents

Insurance Companies May Try To Blame The Victim

Crosswalk Accident AttorneysInsurance companies are notorious for looking for ways to avoid paying on a claim, or offering “low-ball” settlements.  One of their strategies is to assign as much blame as possible to the victim.  Pedestrian accident statistics are sobering to both victims and to insurance companies who pay on claims.  According to Luis Martinez, an accident reconstructionist:

“Since 1975, between 14 and 17 percent of motor vehicle deaths have been pedestrians. Pedestrians accidents are exceeded only by falls and motor vehicle accidents as a cause of accidental deaths. The annual cost of pedestrians accidents to society exceed one billion dollars.”

Insurance companies often have to bear the brunt of the cost of accident claims, and in order to make profits, need to put their own interests above those of accident victims.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Although fatal pedestrian accidents has declined nearly 23% between 1995 and 2010, roughly one pedestrian is still killed in a roadway accident in the United States every 115 minutes. That brings the total to 4,500 annual pedestrian deaths every year.

A non-fatal pedestrian accident occurs every ten minutes in the United States. Although reckless or negligent driving is usually the cause of most pedestrian accidents, carelessness on the part of pedestrians accounts for a fair share of the pedestrian accidents that happen throughout the country every year.

In order to decrease the number of pedestrian accidents that occur every year, both drivers and pedestrians must realize that they each have a set of responsibilities. It’s important for pedestrians to realize that they have a responsibility to obey traffic signals and lights.

There are many situations in which pedestrian accidents occur. The majority of pedestrian accidents occur when pedestrians are crossing the road. The following are some of the circumstances:

  • 22.3 % of pedestrian crossing accidents occur when there is no pedestrian signal or crosswalk;
  • 21.7 % of pedestrian crossing accidents occur when there is a pedestrian signal;
  • 9.9 % of pedestrian crossing accidents occur when a pedestrian fails to comply with pedestrian signal;
  • 5.7 % of pedestrian crossing accidents occur when there is a crosswalk but no pedestrian signal;
  • 6% of pedestrian accidents occur when a pedestrian is exiting a parked car;
  • 0.2% of pedestrian accidents occur when children are getting on or off a school bus.

Pedestrian Laws in MA

There is no law in Massachusetts requiring a pedestrian, when lawfully using the road, to be continuously looking or listening to determine if cars or trucks are approaching.

Breakdown lanes are located on the side of streets and highways and are only supposed to be used by cars, trucks or motorcycles in the event of an emergency. Breakdown lanes are usually clearly marked by a yellow or white strip of paint. Vehicles should only travel in a breakdown lane in the event of an emergency. A car should never enter the breakdown in order to pass a car on the right. A driver should never stop in the breakdown lane in order to make a phone call or take a nap.

Pedestrians are allowed to walk in the breakdown lane along the side of the road. Often times there is no sidewalk and pedestrians have to resort to walking in the breakdown lane, shoulder or even the side of the road.

Massachusetts courts have found that a pedestrian walking on the street at nighttime rather than walking on the sidewalk, may be held to be in the exercise of due care, even where there is no necessity shown for using the street rather than the sidewalk. As a result, a pedestrian walking along the side of the road with his back to approaching traffic isn’t at fault if he or she is hit by a car.

Accident Settlement Offers

Immediately following a pedestrian accident, the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident will usually contact the injured individual and offer an initial settlement amount to close the claim. Insurance companies know that injured individuals who are unable to work during their recovery need quick cash due to their mounting medical bills. These companies will take advantage of the situation and offer a low initial settlement offer that rarely accounts for future costs.

Never accept an insurance company’s settlement offer until you speak with a trusted personal injury lawyer. If you accept the initial offer, it most likely won’t cover your future expenses. While you may need cash to pay your immediate medical bills, you must consider the cost of all of your medical bills, not just those that you’ve already received.

Accepting a settlement offer will likely also prohibit you from filing a claim against the insurance company in the future, which means that you will be on the hook for all of your future medical bills. If you retain the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan for your personal injury claim, we will fight to secure you compensation for the full cost of your injuries, so you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket.

Compensation for Your Injuries

When you’re injured as a pedestrian, you deserve to make a full and complete recovery without having to pay for any of your medical expenses. That’s where we come in; we fight to protect your rights.

We will work hard to secure compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Loss of companionship
  • Medical bills

Retaining a trusted personal injury lawyer can only help you with your personal injury claim. At The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan, we help take the legal stress off of your shoulders, so you can focus on your recovery. Furthermore, you don’t have to pay us anything up-front; we only get paid if we help you secure compensation for your injuries.

Responsibilities Of Drivers And Cyclists

Pedestrians walking on foot have a right to use sidewalks and crosswalks without fear that they will be hit by a negligently or carelessly operated motor vehicle. Although pedestrian accidents can occur in a parking lot, driveway or sidewalk the majority of these accidents occur when a pedestrian makes an attempt to cross the street.

Massachusetts law generally favors pedestrians by giving them the right of way:

  • The operator of a car, truck, tractor-trailer, motorcycle, moped, segway, or even a bicycle usually has a duty to yield to a pedestrian.
  • Motor vehicles must yield the right of way to pedestrians when they are in the crosswalk attempting to cross the street, or have a traffic signal at an intersection in their favor.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

Pedestrians however do have their own set of rules to follow and may be responsible for the accident if they are found to have violated some of the few rules that favor a motor vehicles right of way. Because of the high rates of speed involved in highway travel pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles when attempting to cross a state highway on foot. Also, in heavily populated and trafficked cities, local ordinances may require pedestrians to cross the street at designated crosswalks. Failure to adhere to these ordinances may result in a jaywalking violation.

Pedestrians involved in an accident with a motor vehicle of any kind almost always suffer severe injuries. Typical pedestrian accidents result in broken bones and fractures, head and brain injuries, paralysis and even death. Recovering from these injuries usually takes months on end, if not years, and requires extensive medical surgeries, diagnostic testing (MRI, Cat Scans) and post accident rehabilitation services like physical and occupation therapy.

We Are Ready to Fight for You

If you’ve sustained an injury in a pedestrian accident, you should focus on your recovery and let your attorney deal with the legal details of your personal injury claim.

We have helped many clients just like you get fair compensation for their injuries. Call The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan today at (508) 588-0422, or contact us online, to speak with an experienced member of our legal team regarding your accident and legal options.