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The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) reports that each year nearly 5,000 pedestrians die in motor vehicle-related accidents, and more than 78,000 pedestrians suffer injuries when hit by a car or truck. In addition to pedestrian-vehicle incidents, thousands of non-vehicular pedestrian accidents also occur annually. Poor property maintenance, sidewalk or parking lot defects and/or construction or other debris on walkways cause or contribute to these accidents.
Whether a vehicle or property defect causes an accident or injury, a pedestrian may recover damages for the injuries suffered if someone else's negligence caused or contributed to the incident. Negligence is the legal term for the failure to do (or not do) something that a reasonable person would, in a similar situation, in order to protect others from foreseeable risks. In order to establish negligence in a pedestrian accident, the injured person (the "plaintiff") must prove that the person at fault (the "defendant"):
Owed a legal duty to the plaintiff under the circumstances; and
Failed to fulfill ("breached") that legal duty through conduct or action (or through a failure to act); and
Caused an accident or injury involving the plaintiff; and
Harmed or injured the plaintiff as a result.
The outcome of each case will depend upon a careful analysis of the facts of each accident as they relate to each of these essential elements. When a pedestrian injury occurs, there may be more than one party with legal responsibility for the accident. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, those with potential liability include:
The driver of a vehicle that strikes a pedestrian;
The party responsible for maintaining the sidewalk, roadway or parking lot where the accident occurred;
The pedestrian himself or herself.
The early involvement of a personal injury attorney with experience helping injured pedestrians is the best way to assess and protect any potential legal claim.
If You are Involved in a Pedestrian Accident
Be aware that those who may be legally responsible for your injuries might try to blame you for the accident, by claiming that your own negligence was the cause of what happened. If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, you should do the following:
Call police immediately.
Do not leave the scene of the accident before help arrives.
Gather names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
Do not make any statements to anyone, including drivers and insurers.
Call a qualified and experienced pedestrian accident or personal injury attorney as soon as possible.