Pedestrian Injury Attorneys – Charleston, West Virginia
Pedestrian accidents in the United States have increased significantly in the last two years. In 2017, nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed on roadways, according to a 2017 study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Why are Pedestrian Accidents At Record Highs in West Virginia?
Pedestrian fatalities are at a 25-year-high. However, other types of traffic fatalities are dropping. So, why are more people getting injured and killed while walking when other vehicle crash related fatalities have decreased? The most likely reasons are:
1) Cell phone use, including texting, among both drivers and pedestrians
2) The dramatic increase in alcohol, drug use and abuse
For example, 33% of pedestrian fatalities involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol content above the legal driving limit. Drug use has almost doubled in America from 2011 to 2014. Heroin use has at least tripled from 2003 to 2014 in West Virginia and across the nation.
What to do if You are Injured as a Pedestrian?
Below are some additional steps to protect your rights:
- Call the police immediately. You want to make sure that you have an objective record of the incident as soon as possible after it occurs. Evidence and memories will begin to fade soon after the accident happens, so be sure to solidify as much as you can about what happened right after it happens.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident. There is a lot to be said for “shaking off” an accident or injury. The last thing you want to do is disrupt your day if you do not believe that you were injured badly, or at all. But sometimes injuries do not manifest themselves until later on, or a day or two later. So, it is better to be safe than sorry, and not leave the scene until a record has been made of the accident.
- Get names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Try as best you can to get the contact information for any person who witnessed the accident. Those people may be very helpful in the long run.
- Avoid making any statements to anyone about fault. There may be a strong inclination to make statements, in anger or otherwise, about who is at fault. Indeed, the driver who may be legally responsible may try to blame you. Who is at fault needs to be determined by law enforcement and your attorney.
- Consult with an experienced attorney. If you were injured, it’s important to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to see if you have a case. The professionals at The West Law Firm will be happy to provide you a FREE CASE REVIEW. To learn more, call The West Firm, West Virginia’s top personal injury attorneys, at 1-877-943-9378 (WEST).
What are the Rules of the Road Governing West Virginia Pedestrian Accidents?
Both drivers and pedestrians must exercise reasonable care when traveling the streets, roads, and highways. What that means is not always clear, however. Fortunately, there are many West Virginia rules of the road that provide guidance.
Drivers of course must obey all speed limits and road signs. Drivers must also not follow too closely, and they must always keep a proper lookout. Texting causes a lot of pedestrian accidents and is prohibited while driving in West Virginia as well as talking on the cell phone without a handsfree device.
Pedestrians must also behave reasonably, including waiting for walk signals and crossing in crosswalks. Another rule of the road for pedestrians is to walk on the left (against traffic) if practicable when there’s no sidewalk.
There is also a concept called comparative fault. That means that if a pedestrian’s negligence is partially responsible for an accident, then the compensation due that pedestrian is reduced by the percentage of the pedestrian’s fault.
West Virginia has a rather drastic comparative negligence statute. In West Virginia, if an injured person is 51% or more responsible for the accident, then he or she receives no recovery.
To give an example, when a driver is 70% responsible for an accident, and the pedestrian is 30% responsible, then the pedestrian’s recovery for any injury will be reduced by 30%. However, if a driver is 49% responsible and a pedestrian is 51% responsible for an accident, then the pedestrian is not eligible to recover any compensation for his or her injuries.
What Type Of Compensation Is Available for Wrongfully Injured Pedestrians?
If your injury was due to another person’s negligence, then you may be able to collect damages for all of your harms and losses such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future cost of medical care and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in limited circumstances (for example, if injured by a drunk driver)
The goal for a negligence lawsuit is to make the wrongfully injured whole, or get you as close to the position that you were in prior to the accident. In some cases, like the death of a loved one, sometimes the best that can be done for the surviving family members is monetary compensation to help offset the devastation that can follow such a loss.
How Long Should I Wait Before Talking to an Attorney?
Typically, if you’re injured, the sooner you speak to an attorney the better. There are several reasons for that. First, an attorney can help you investigate a possible negligence claim. The closer in time to the accident you engage an attorney, the better your attorney will be able to obtain the necessary evidence to prove your case.
Also, West Virginia law generally provides for a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. That usually means that you must file a lawsuit within two years of an accident, or you lose your ability to sue at all.
Talk to an attorney to learn what time limits are applicable to your case. It pays not to wait too long before reviewing your legal options after a pedestrian accident.
Safety Tips for Walking Safely on West Virginia Roadways
Careless drivers, careless pedestrians, poor street design, a lot of factors play into many of the roadways in West Virginia and in this country. Walking to a destination can be dangerous, particularly in a city or on rural roads. Here are a few tips to avoid being injured in a pedestrian accident in West Virginia.
- Walk on Designated Sidewalks and Walkways. Sidewalks and crosswalks are generally safe places to be for pedestrians. Drivers expect pedestrians in those areas, which keeps the odds of an accident down. If there is no sidewalk, then pedestrians should walk against (facing) oncoming traffic. That is the best way to keep drivers alert to your presence.
- Be Visible. Being noticeable could be that small extra factor that alerts a driver to your presence and avoids an accident. Some ways to achieve visibility include wearing bright clothing, making eye contact with a driver, and/or trying to not be in a blind spot. If you can’t see the driver’s face, the driver likely does not see you.
- Don’t Cross If You Are In Doubt. If you don’t think a driver sees you, or if you don’t think he or she will stop, don’t cross the street. It is always better to have a little patience and wait it out, rather than take a risk. You may be wise to find an alternate route if you have trouble crossing a busy intersection.
- Pay Attention — Avoid Distracted Walking. As mentioned earlier, when walking on a busy roadway, or where cars travel at high speeds, avoid losing awareness of your surroundings by playing the music loudly on your headphones, or engaging in a phone conversation. Safety first. The distractions can wait until you are in a safer environment.
- Avoid Walking Home Alone If You Were Drinking. Next to being distracted by your smart phone, having too much to drink is one of the leading causes of pedestrian injuries and deaths. Walking drunk can be as deadly as driving drunk.
Safety Tips to Avoid Hitting a Pedestrian
Here are some simple driving tips to help keep pedestrians in your community safe:
- No Phone. It is incredibly hard for us to do, but put away your phone. That includes navigation apps or changing the song you want to hear. If you get an important call, then you should think about pulling over to take the call. Distracted driving due to phones is becoming the most common reason for accidents these days.
- Expect Pedestrians and Keep a Proper Lookout
- Check Mirrors More Than Once. When backing out of driveways and parking lots, take the time to check behind you more than once. Constantly checking behind you can minimize the risk of a person surprising you.
- Drive At A Speed Appropriate to the Road Conditions. All too frequently, especially in West Virginia, drivers with four-wheel drive, or powerful SUVs believe that they can drive through challenging weather in the same manner as if it were a clear, sunny day. Not so. Roads are slippery when it rains and can lead to losing control of your vehicle. Allow for extra braking time and more room to stop in bad weather.
- Don’t Forget To Signal and Stop Fully. Make sure the pedestrians around you can predict what you are going to do. If you are making a turn, especially around pedestrians, signal before making the turn. That way, a pedestrian will know not to cross the street until it is safe. Also, stop fully at stop signs and proceed slowly through an intersection where there are pedestrians.
Get a Free Consultation with a Top Rated West Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer at West Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been wrongfully injured, or been a pedestrian accident, we invite you to call us for a Free Consultation. Call West Law Firm today at 1-877-943-9378. There’s No Fee unless and until we recover compensation for you.