Chicago’s green spaces and relatively flat streets make it one of the country’s most walkable cities. While traveling on foot should be risk free as long as basic rules are being obeyed, all too often pedestrians are vulnerable to accidents that can cause serious, sometimes even fatal, injuries. In many cases, distracted driving or other forms of driver negligence are to blame for pedestrian accidents.
Every year, thousands of pedestrians are injured or killed as a result of preventable traffic crashes.
According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report, an estimated 6,227 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2018, the highest number since 1990. There was a four percent overall increase in pedestrian deaths in terms of total car accident fatalities in comparison to 2017.
Eighty people died on Illinois streets during the first six months of 2018, marking a 19 percent increase compared to the first half of 2017. In 2016, the state recorded 4,913 pedestrian accidents of which 160 were fatal. Illinois Department of Transportation data shows that Chicago has experienced a rise in pedestrian fatalities. There were 46 pedestrian deaths in the city in 2017 compared to the five-year average of 38 from 2010 to 2015.
Overall, pedestrian deaths in the United States are at a 30-year high. Experts have attributed the spike to an increase in distractions like smartphone use among both motorists and pedestrians. Another growing trend is the presence of SUVs on the road. Since 2013, there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of SUVs that have played a role in pedestrian deaths. Pedestrians hit by larger, heavier vehicles are generally more likely to suffer severe, and possibly fatal, injuries than those struck by smaller cars.
A number of unsafe driving behaviors are also responsible for the increase in pedestrian fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that alcohol was a factor in 47 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents in the country in 2017. In addition, failure to yield right of way was a cause of almost 30 percent of such crashes nationwide that year.
Driver Negligence is a Common Cause of Pedestrian Accidents
Illinois walkways and sidewalks are used by a wide range of pedestrians including walkers, joggers, wheelchair users and skateboarders, among others. Drivers are expected to obey the rules of the road and be mindful of pedestrians. This means that they need to be extra cautious in pedestrian-heavy areas such as shopping centers, residential neighborhoods, parks and school zones.
Sometimes, however, drivers pay attention only to other vehicles on the road while ignoring the need to check for pedestrians at all times. Illinois drivers must yield to pedestrians when turning at intersections. Pedestrians also have the right of way in many other situations, such as when they are in a marked crosswalk, following a walk signal, or leaving or entering the road from a driveway.
Here are some common actions by drivers that can cause pedestrian accidents:
- Failing to obey traffic signs or lights
- Not yielding to pedestrians
- Backing out of parking spots without looking
- Improper lane usage
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving such as using a cellphone, adjusting the radio, eating or drinking.
Drivers are not the only ones prone to distractions. Even though pedestrians have the right of way, they also have the responsibility to look both ways before crossing and to take reasonable actions to be safe. In some pedestrian accidents, a person may be jay-walking or be distracted by their smartphone, talking to a friend or listening to music while walking.
Of course, there are also other factors that can cause pedestrian accidents besides driver negligence. Cracked, uneven sidewalks or roads may discourage pedestrians from using them, for example. In such cases, a third party like a local government agency can be held liable. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries through an insurance settlement or a lawsuit.
With the introduction of dockless electric scooters to Chicago streets, pedestrians have another potential safety hazard to contend with. Unfortunately, scooters have already resulted in accidents in Chicago and across other U.S. cities.
While many cases have involved scooter riders suffering injuries, there have also been reports of pedestrians getting hurt. Scooters that are left lying around on sidewalks or blocking business entryways pose a tripping hazard. They can put pedestrians at risk of slip and fall accidents. Riders who lose control of their scooters can also end up colliding with pedestrians, causing serious injuries.
Illinois is still grappling with how to regulate electric scooters. While the state continues to mull various safety measures and laws, pedestrians need to remain extra cautious.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Injuries
Under Illinois law, victims of pedestrian accidents have limited time in which to file a personal injury claim. This timeframe is known as the statute of limitations. Generally, you must file a claim within two years of being injured in an accident. Failure to meet this deadline could mean that you lose your right to pursue compensation. As a result, it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible.
At the Chicago law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we are confident that we can help you get the compensation you deserve in a timely manner. Our personal injury attorneys understand the emotional, physical and financial devastation that an accident can cause. We use our years of experience to pursue the maximum compensation possible for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. You can focus on recovering from your injuries while we handle the entire legal process.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
While it is impossible to control or predict driver behavior, there are some simple tips that pedestrians can follow to minimize their risk of being injured in a pedestrian accident.
- Carry a flashlight at night or during low visibility.
- Cross streets at designated crosswalks and avoid jay-walking.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing when walking in the dark.
- Walk on a sidewalk whenever possible.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk so that you face oncoming traffic.
Steps to Take After a Pedestrian Accident
- Seek medical attention. A pedestrian accident can cause varying degrees of injury. However, you should make sure to promptly go see a doctor for treatment in all circumstances. Many injuries such as traumatic brain injury or internal bleeding can be difficult to detect.
- Get a copy of the accident report. Call the police to the scene after your pedestrian accident. The officer will create an accident report. Make sure to obtain a copy of the report. It will serve as important evidence if you decide to file a personal injury claim later.
- Hold on to key documents. Keep records of insurance company letters, receipts from accident-related expenses, and witness contact information. You should also document the scene of the pedestrian accident with photos and notes.
- Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer. You should speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your pedestrian accident. The lawyer can guide you through the legal process of pursuing compensation while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Common Types of Injuries in Chicago Pedestrian Accidents
While car drivers and passengers have seatbelts, airbags and the simple advantage of being in a vehicle to potentially lessen the severity of injuries sustained during a crash, pedestrians are not afforded such protection. When a person traveling on foot is hit by a vehicle, the results are frequently catastrophic due to its size, weight and force of impact.
Some of the most common kinds of injuries that victims suffer in pedestrian crashes include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Nerve damage
- Dislocated joints or limbs
- Internal organ damage
- Cuts, scrapes and bruises
Injured in a Chicago Pedestrian Accident? Contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg
Pedestrian accidents can cause a wide range of injuries that may not only require medical attention but also long-term therapy and rehabilitation. In some cases, they may lead to permanent damage that may affect your ability to perform daily tasks or return to work.
If you or a family member was injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to receive compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. You can recover damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, costs for therapy, and lost income, among others.
Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represents clients in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Contact our law firm today to learn more and speak directly to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
We offer free initial consultations. No fee unless we are successful.