Pedestrian Accident Attorney in Charleston, West Virginia
At some point, we are all pedestrians. Whether we commute to and from work, walk from the parking ramp or parking lot into a restaurant or shop, or go out on a walk for exercise or leisure, walking outdoors is something we all do from time to time. Going for a walk is generally good for our health, but unfortunately, being a pedestrian is becoming increasingly dangerous.
Pedestrian accidents have been on the rise in recent years, and this is largely because of preventable factors. After more than three decades of decline to a low point of 4,109 pedestrian deaths in 2009, we have now seen more than a decade of sharp increases in pedestrian fatalities, with the number of deaths consistently topping 6,000 annually.
Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable to serious injuries and fatalities during a traffic related accident, and this makes the recent upward trends especially disturbing. Without a steel cage to protect them, there is not much that prevents a pedestrian from hitting a hard surface after being struck by a vehicle. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a pedestrian or crosswalk accident, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney, so you are fully versed on your legal rights and options.
At the office of The Masters Law Firm, we understand that a pedestrian accident injury can take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families, and we are here to provide strong legal representation and moral support during this difficult time. Our award-winning attorneys have several decades of experience successfully representing victims of pedestrian accidents and those who have suffered all other types of personal injuries in West Virginia. We put that experience to work to prepare the strongest possible claim on your behalf and to explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation.
What is Causing the Increase in Pedestrian Accidents?
In West Virginia and throughout the country, pedestrian crashes are becoming all too common. Some of the reasons that pedestrian accidents occur include:
- Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit gives drivers less time to react when an unexpected situation arises on the roadways. In addition, when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian while traveling at a faster speed, it vastly increases the chances of a serious or fatal injury.
- Aggressive/Reckless Driving: Driving aggressively or recklessly is another surefire way to heighten the risk of a vehicle accident. Examples of aggressive or reckless driving behaviors include excessive speeding, following too closely/tailgating, refusal to yield the right-of-way, making dangerous or illegal turns, and running stop lights or stop signs.
- Distractions: Many pedestrian crashes happen because of distractions on the part of either the driver or pedestrian. Examples include texting or other forms of electronic messaging on a smartphone, eating or drinking, grooming, and looking down to locate or pick up a lost object.
- Chemical Impairment: Alcohol is a contributing factor in roughly half of all pedestrian accidents. In about two thirds of these cases, it is an intoxicated driver that causes the crash. In the other one-third of cases, an intoxicated pedestrian plays a role.
- Drowsy Driving: These days, many motorists are tired or fatigued when they get behind the wheel. This happens because they do not get enough sleep, which for an adult means at least six hours, and for a teen it means seven hours. Drowsy driving is very dangerous, because most people do not know the point at which they cross from being barely awake to falling asleep at the wheel. And even when a drowsy driver does not fall asleep, they still have impaired peripheral vision, which can cause them to miss important details on the road, such as a pedestrian crossing in front of them.
A report by NPR cites three major reasons for the recent increase in pedestrian deaths:
- Growth in Pedestrian Traffic: The population of the US has grown significantly over the past decade or two. Our society has also become more health conscious and walking outdoors is a preferred form of exercise. This means that in West Virginia and most other states, we have more people out walking than ever before.
- Larger Vehicles: Over the past decade, the price of fuel has dropped, and at the same time, the economy has improved. These two factors have resulted in more Americans purchasing SUVs and other large vehicles. These types of vehicles have a higher ground clearance, which makes it more difficult to see someone who was crossing the street. In addition, when a pedestrian is struck by a large vehicle, there is a greater chance of serious injuries.
- Smartphone Activity: In our modern age, there is a seemingly insatiable desire to “stay connected”. And for far too many motorists (and pedestrians as well for that matter), the temptation to send and receive electronic messages on their smartphones is overwhelming. Motorists and pedestrians also frequently use their phones in other ways, such as to take selfies, watch videos, and read GPS navigation systems. Most experts believe that distracted driving and distracted walking that is triggered by smart phone use are among the primary factors that is driving the increase in pedestrian accidents.
Pursuing a Pedestrian Accident Injury Claim in West Virginia
Those who get injured in a pedestrian crash are entitled to compensation not only for direct monetary losses such as medical costs and lost earnings, but also for noneconomic losses such as physical and emotional pain-and-suffering, diminished quality of life, and permanent injury. In rarer cases in which the actions of the party responsible for the injury were willful, malicious, or grossly negligent, punitive damages might also be awarded as punishment for their wrongdoing and to help deter them (and others) from committing similarly egregious actions in the future.
West Virginia uses a modified form of comparative negligence in personal injury cases. Under this standard, an injured person can recover damages as long as they are 50% or less at fault for the underlying accident. However, if they are partially to blame, their damage award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share in the accident. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in losses and you are determined to be 20% at fault, your damage award be reduced by $20,000 to a total of $80,000.
You can be sure that the other side will try to assign some of the responsibility for the accident to you in order to mitigate their losses. This is why it is important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to full and fair compensation can be protected.
Contact our Skilled and Knowledgeable West Virginia Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
If you or someone close to you got injured in a pedestrian crash in West Virginia, The Masters Law Firm is ready to go to work for you. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 304-371-7894. We look forward to serving you!