Have you been injured as a pedestrian in Atlanta, GA? It’s important that you fully understand your legal rights and options. Do not hesitate to contact the experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Hasner Law for immediate legal assistance. You may have the right to seek compensation, and we can help you fight to maximize your recovery.
We offer a free consultation, so give our Atlanta law firm a call to schedule yours today.
Statistics Pedestrian Accidents in Georgia
According to the state of Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the number of traffic-related deaths is declining. But, unfortunately, the number of pedestrian deaths has been increasing. Specifically, the number has gone up 60% over the last 5 years.
Note that these numbers are consistent with the trend across the United States. Nationally, the number of pedestrian fatalities has increased by 35% since 2008. All other types of traffic fatalities are on the decline.
Georgia is in the top 5 among states with the most pedestrian deaths. In fact, these states, including California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona, account for nearly 50% of the pedestrian deaths occurring nationally.
Officials believe that distracted driving is to blame for these high numbers. In particular, its the use of cellphones while operating a vehicle. This causes the driver to fail to see a pedestrian crossing the road and leads to an accident. But, note that this assumption is speculative and has not been proven conclusively.
Keep in mind that 75% of fatal accidents involving pedestrians occur at night. In addition, more than half (60%) occur in a local street or on state highways, as opposed to interstate or county roads. Alcohol is often involved, both among drivers and pedestrians. Specifically, 32% of pedestrians and 17% of drivers had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of at least 0.08 at the time of the accident.
It may be surprising to learn that the vast majority of pedestrian fatalities (72%) did not occur in intersections. Further, for fatalities that happened on an interstate, most occurred while the motorist was standing outside their vehicle. This might be while waiting for a tow truck to arrive or while changing a flat tire.
Georgia State Law for Pedestrians
State law provides regulations on how pedestrians may legally use crosswalks and roads. Specifically, when crossing the street where there is a traffic signal, the pedestrian must follow the traffic signals. This means that the pedestrian must first wait for the walking sign and then proceed through a marked crosswalk. A pedestrian may not cross the street diagonally, unless specifically authorized.
Note that pedestrians must give vehicles sufficient space to yield. This means that you cannot leave the curb or other point of safety directly in front of a moving car. By contrast, if you are in a crosswalk and following all traffic signals, cars must yield the right of way to you. If there is no crosswalk, you must yield to oncoming cars, unless they have already safely entered the roadway.
Jaywalking Is Legal in Georgia
Interestingly enough, jaywalking is not illegal in Georgia. However, both drivers and pedestrians are required to be careful in sharing the road. This means that pedestrians must yield and drivers should anticipate potential pedestrians.
Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit Based on Negligence
If you are injured by a driver while walking outside, you may be able to file a claim. But, in order for your lawsuit to be successful, you must prove that the driver acted negligently. Negligence refers to someone failing to take reasonable care in minimizing the risk of injury to others. You must also show that this negligent behavior caused your injury.
In other words, you must prove that the driver wasn’t exercising reasonable care while driving and, as a result, this carelessness led to you being harmed.
An example might be if the driver reached into the backseat of the car while crossing an intersection. If this took his or her attention off of the road, it would not be considered reasonable care under the circumstances.
Negligence Per Se and Your Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Case
The matter becomes a little more straightforward in cases where a driver violated the law. For example, if the driver failed to yield at a crosswalk or ran a red light, this would be considered “negligence per se.” This simply means that the law presumes the driver to be negligent without any further evidence.
But, note that the law that was violated must be one that was designed to protect pedestrians. So, for example, if the driver had an outstanding warrant for unpaid parking tickets at the time of the accident, this could not be a basis for finding him negligent per se. This is because the violation has nothing to do with how reasonable his driving was at the time of the accident.
Proving Causation Is An Essential Component of Your Injury Claim
It’s important to remember that negligent behavior alone is not enough. You must prove that the behavior of the negligent driver actually caused your injury. For example, assume you slipped on a patch of ice and hurt yourself in a crosswalk at the same time a driver ran a red light. In this case, the driver’s negligence could not be said to have caused your injury.
At Hasner Law, our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys will carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding your pedestrian accident. If you were struck by a car, we’ll do everything we can to gather the evidence that’s necessary to get you the money you deserve. Give us a quick call today to schedule a time to discuss your injury claim in more detail.
What Happens If I’m Partly Responsible For My Atlanta Pedestrian Accident?
In some cases, both the driver and the pedestrian may share fault for an accident. An example would be if a driver was texting while driving and a pedestrian crossed an intersection on a red light. Note that in Georgia, the pedestrian could still be successful in a lawsuit against the driver. In fact, a plaintiff may recover so long as he or she was not more than 50% at fault.
Bear in mind that allocating fault in a negligence case is not always clearcut. In many cases, it can be used as a defense tactic by the driver’s attorney to try to limit your damages. But, remember, everything comes down to the degree to which each person’s actions were considered reasonable under the circumstances.
So, for example, if you were wearing all black attire and walking in the street at night time, this might be deemed unreasonable behavior for failure to follow adequate safety precautions. In this case, your damages may be reduced based on your degree of fault.
This means that If a jury finds that you were 25% to blame for your injuries and calculates your damages to be $1 Million, you would only be awarded $75,000. However, remember that if you are found to be 51% at fault, you are entitled to nothing.
Now, some Georgia pedestrian accidents involve more than two people at fault. For example, there may have been another driver that rear-ended the vehicle that struck you. Or, perhaps there was a traffic signal that was malfunctioning at the time of the car accident. As you can see, these types of cases can become quite complicated. For that reason, it’s best to discuss your unique situation with a qualified Atlanta personal injury attorney.
What Damages Can I Get After a Pedestrian Accident in Georgia?
If you are injured in a pedestrian accident in Georgia, you may be entitled to financial compensation. These are referred to as damages and there are a few different types that you can be awarded in a lawsuit.
The first type of damages are economic damages. These have an objective monetary amount, and include medical expenses, such as:
- Hospital bills
- Physical therapy
Economic damages also include amounts for destroyed property, and lost income during periods where you were unable to work due to the injury.
You may also be entitled to certain non-economic damages. These amounts would be for pain and suffering that were caused by the accident. Calculating these awards is much more subjective and looks at factors such as the distress caused by the injury and loss of enjoyment of life.
Damages Available After a Fatal Pedestrian Accident
Note that in cases where a loved one dies in a pedestrian accident, the spouse and/or minor children can bring a wrongful death action against the driver. The damages that can be awarded in wrongful death cases would be lost wages and benefits the victim would have earned had he or she continued to live.
There are also amounts for loss of care and companionship. These would be intangible benefits from losing a loved one. Finally, a family member may also be able to recover money for medical expenses related to the injury and funeral/burial costs.
Contact Our Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Today
Collisions involving motor vehicles can lead to injuries like broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. While we may consider drivers and passengers to be at the greatest risk for harm, pedestrians also share the roadways and can be involved in traffic accidents.
When a pedestrian is hit by a car, it can be easy to assume that the driver was the one at fault. However, this isn’t always the case. Further, if you are the injured party, working with an insurance company to get the damages you are entitled to can be difficult. For that reason, it’s important to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident, contact our law firm today for a free consultation. We have experience dealing with insurance companies and negotiating the settlement you deserve.
Keep in mind that there is a 2-year deadline on personal injury cases in Georgia. This is known as the statute of limitations, and it can prevent you from filing a claim. So don’t delay in reaching out to us. But, there are exceptions to this rule, so contact us even if you believe the deadline has passed.