A recent article from the Washington Post discusses the great tension in DC between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Traffic violations are routine, aggressive behavior is common, and ultimately what we have are unsafe roads for everyone.
Early on in the article, we hear about the very real plight of pedestrians. Pedestrians have to deal with careless drivers and cyclists who violate traffic laws and behave inattentively or inconsiderately. Sidewalks aren’t safe from speeding cyclists, and at crosswalks, pedestrians who have the right of way may still find themselves dodging oncoming traffic, both motor vehicles and bikes.
Pedestrians are also especially vulnerable during accidents, because they have no protection against the impact of a collision. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011 there were tens of thousands of pedestrian injuries and thousands of deaths around the US, with 73% of the pedestrian deaths occurring in urban areas; in DC specifically, pedestrian fatalities made up a relatively high percentage of total traffic accident deaths.
Does their vulnerability on the road mean pedestrians are never at fault?
In general, there’s more of a burden on drivers to be careful and watch out for pedestrians. Drivers need to remain alert and know when to slow down.
However, in spite of their vulnerability on the road, pedestrians are sometimes held wholly or partly responsible for an accident. For example, if a pedestrian quickly darts in front of a cautious and law-abiding driver, and the distance between them is too small for the driver to brake on time, the pedestrian can be held at fault. This is especially true if the driver didn’t get a chance to see the pedestrian beforehand – for instance, if the pedestrian were jumping out on the road from between parked cars or from behind trees or shrubs.
When reviewing an accident, pedestrians may also be scrutinized for illegal or reckless behavior. For example, were they jaywalking at the time? Were they walking around while drunk, weaving in and out of a road with high-speed traffic?
If you’ve been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced DC accident lawyer. Regardless of whether or not you share fault for an accident, your lawyer will be able to fight for you to receive the compensation you need to cope with the aftermath of the accident. And if you think you’re partly responsible, be sure to review all the details with your attorney, who will give you advice on how to move forward with your case.
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