Pedestrian Accident Attorney in Biloxi
We are all pedestrians at some point, and this is when we tend to be most vulnerable. Sidewalks are fairly safe (for the most part), but there are many streets and roads in Mississippi that do not have them. There are also times when we have to cross the street at intersections, walk to our and from car that is parked in a lot or garage, or otherwise put ourselves in the potential path of a vehicle.
Pedestrian accidents are becoming increasingly common in Mississippi and throughout the country. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatalities from traffic events involving pedestrians are at their highest levels in nearly three decades. More than 6,000 individuals are killed each year in these types of accidents, which equates to an average of one pedestrian death every 88 minutes. In addition to the fatalities, more than 100,000 pedestrians are also treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal traffic related injuries.
If you or someone close to you was injured in a pedestrian accident, you may have a right to compensation. But before talking with anyone from an insurance company, it is important for you to understand your legal rights and options. Otherwise, you may lose out on the just compensation you deserve. Contact the Gardner Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
At the Gardner Law Firm, we understand that individuals who are involved in pedestrian accidents can end up with serious and catastrophic injuries, and we are here to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time. We have over 40 years of experience standing up for those who have suffered all types of personal injuries in Ocean Springs, Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, and communities throughout Southern Mississippi. Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of this area of law, and a proven track record of success with even the most complex cases.
What are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
One of the reasons crosswalk accidents and other accidents involving pedestrians have been on the rise in recent years is because there is simply more foot traffic than there used to be. Some of that is due to population growth, but it is also due to lifestyle choices and the desire among Americans to stay healthy by walking more.
A pedestrian accident is usually the fault of a motorist, but it could also be the fault of the person walking, a bicyclist or motorcyclist who collides into a pedestrian, or a third party such as the party responsible for maintaining safe walkways. Of course, sometimes there are uncontrollable external factors that contribute to the accident as well, such as inclement weather.
When a motorist is at fault for a pedestrian accident, it is usually for one of the following reasons:
- Aggressive/reckless driving: Many drivers are in a hurry and overly aggressive on the roads. This can cause them to take unnecessary chances, such as speeding through an intersection after the light has already turned red. Aggressive or reckless driving puts everyone on the road at risk, but especially pedestrians who have very little protection.
- Drowsy driving: Some people drive when they are tired and fatigued, usually due to lack of sleep. This is particularly common with those who drive commercially, such as over the road truck drivers. Drowsy drivers not only run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel, but even when they stay awake, they are less attentive to pedestrian crossings and other important details.
- Drunk driving: Those who drive after having too much to drink tend to make very poor decisions while behind the wheel. Some become reckless and run stop signs and stoplights, while others get drowsy and maybe even fall asleep. All of these driving behaviors are very hazardous for those who are out walking.
- Distracted driving: One of the factors that is widely believed to be driving the vast increase in pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. And these days, cell phones are one of the deadliest distractions that motorists have. Texting while driving and similar activities demand a driver’s full attention, which distracts them from what is happening on the road.
When a pedestrian contributes to a traffic-related accident, it is usually for one of these reasons:
- Improper crossings: Sometimes, pedestrians cross the street at an intersection when the light is red and there is a car coming. At other times, they may cross in places that are illegal and/or there is no designated crosswalk.
- Distractions/inattentiveness: Like drivers, pedestrians are also overly distracted by their cell phones. Looking down at their phone to send and receive text, watch videos, or take selfies can cause them not to see an oncoming vehicle or another object. Having headphones on exacerbates the problem when it inhibits their ability to hear anything that is going on.
- Intoxication: Pedestrians, especially those out walking at night, may be just as likely (or more) as drivers to be intoxicated. This may cause them to stumble, look down, and not watch where they are going when they are walking.
In 2018 (the most recent year we have full records for), there were 6,227 pedestrian fatalities across the US. This was the highest number of pedestrian deaths in nearly three decades, and it represented a 30% increase over the 4,109 pedestrians that were killed in 2009 (only a decade earlier). Mississippi also saw a significant pedestrian fatality rate increase in 2018, and the Magnolia State has led the nation in overall traffic fatalities in all but three years since 1999.
The alarming rise in pedestrian fatalities should concern everyone. Pedestrians do not have a steel cage to protect them when they are out walking, and they are the most vulnerable to serious injuries and fatalities from traffic accidents. Younger children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to severe injury, and those who are age 65 and older account for approximately 20% of all pedestrian accident deaths.
What is Driving the Rise in Pedestrian Fatalities?
There are a lot of reasons why experts believe pedestrian deaths are increasing:
More People Walking
One major reason there are more pedestrian accidents and fatalities is that there are more people out walking than ever before. This is partly due to the increase in population, and partly due to trends and lifestyle preferences. Our society is very health conscious, and many people enjoy going out for a walk for exercise or leisure. Walking is also encouraged by activity tracking watches like Fitbits that track the number of daily steps people take. And people are also concerned these days about protecting the environment and decreasing carbon emissions, so they often choose to walk or bike to work and to other places when possible.
More Vehicles on the Road
In addition to the growing number of pedestrians, there has also been an increase in the number of cars and trucks on the road. Improved economic conditions, lower fuel prices, and easy access to financing have given more people the opportunity to purchase their own vehicle rather than using public transportation.
Larger Vehicles on the Road
For much the same reasons mentioned in the previous point, a growing number of Americans are choosing to purchase SUVs and other large vehicles when they go to buy a new car. In 2013, 32% of the vehicles that were on the roads were SUVs. This figure is expected to break 50% by the end of this year. Pedestrian accident fatalities involving SUVs have increased by 50% over the past five years, and according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, SUVs are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to kill a pedestrian than a car.
Widespread Smartphone Use
Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days, and we all like to stay connected when we are on the go. A large percentage of motorists (more than 60% in some surveys) admit to having sent or received a text while driving, and many pedestrians get distracted by their phones as well. A driver who is distracted by a text can easily fail to see someone crossing the street in front of them, especially when it is after dark. And a pedestrian who is too busy looking at their phone could fail to see a vehicle as well, or they could trip over an object or crack in the pavement while they are walking.
Because there are so many potential contributing factors, determining who was responsible for a pedestrian accident case can be challenging. For those involved, it is very important not to admit any kind of fault. This will be sorted out by the police and other experts after an investigation is conducted. The best thing to do, especially if you have injuries, is to get in touch with a seasoned attorney who will look out for your interests.
It may turn out that you share some of the fault for the accident. If that is the case, you may still be able to receive compensation for your injuries under Mississippi’s pure comparative negligence legal standard. However, your compensation award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage you are determined to be at fault. For example, if your total losses come to $150,000 and you are 20% at fault, your award would be reduced by $30,000.
Do Pedestrian Auto Accidents Increase during the Summer?
In Mississippi, we have good weather all year round, which is one of the reasons why our state has a high number of pedestrian accidents (as a percentage of our population). These types of accidents do tend to peak in the summertime, however, because kids are out of school, there are more tourists coming through the state, there are more inexperienced riders on the road (such as high school kids on summer break), and there are more families out and about enjoying summer vacation.
NHTSA data also shows a correlation between the season and the time of day pedestrian car crashes occur. During all seasons, the vast majority of pedestrian fatalities occur on the weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). But the season you are in seems to make a difference in the time of day when these types of accidents tend to occur:
- During the fall and winter months (September through February), the largest percentage of pedestrian traffic fatalities is between 6:00 and 8:59p.m.
- During the spring and summer months (March through August), the largest percentage of pedestrian fatalities is between 9:00 and 11:59p.m.
Many experts believe that the difference in the time of day in which it is most dangerous for pedestrians can be explained by daylight savings time and the extended daylight hours we enjoy during the spring and summer months. This results in more people being out walking later into the evening, and more people out driving as well.
Who Qualifies as a Pedestrian?
Although a pedestrian is typically someone traveling by foot, it could also include someone riding a bicycle, a skateboarder, a person in a manual or electronic wheelchair, or someone using roller skates or blades. They must also follow pedestrian safety laws such as using a controlled intersection to cross the street or waiting for traffic to stop at a non-controlled intersection.
When Both Parties Share Blame
Sometimes neither the driver nor the pedestrian is 100 percent at fault for the accident. For example, the pedestrian may have been guilty of jaywalking but the driver would not have hit him or her if not speeding. Because of the complexity of these situations, it’s in your best interest to work with a personal injury attorney from Gardner Law Firm whether you were the driver or the pedestrian involved in an accident.
Unlike some states that bar injured people from collecting damages if they shared any responsibility for the accident, Mississippi is a contributory negligence state. That means the judge or jury would reduce the amount of your lawsuit based on your percentage of blame. With so much at stake, it’s important to retain an experienced attorney who can prove that you share little or no blame in the accident and that you’re entitled to the highest possible compensation.
Speak with a Skilled and Knowledgeable Biloxi, MS Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Pedestrian accidents can be some of the deadliest traffic-related events, and those who are injured need strong legal counsel by their side fighting hard to protect their rights and interests. At the Gardner Law Firm, we ready to go to work for you. Call our office today at 228-436-6555 or message us online to schedule your free consultation and case assessment. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience, or we will come to you.
We handle all personal injury cases on a contingency basis – you only pay attorney fees if we win your case