Smyrna Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Experienced Lawyer for Pedestrian Accidents in Smyrna, GA
Pedestrians are at risk every time they step out on the road or sidewalk. We have represented people who have been struck by cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicyclists all over Georgia. Whether a pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk or not, pedestrians always need to be aware of the drivers around them. If you have been injured in an accident and need legal guidance, reach out to a Smyrna Pedestrian Accident Attorney at Tobin Injury Law today.
Motorists have a duty to exercise ordinary or reasonable care when driving, which includes being on the lookout for pedestrians. In Georgia, the incidence of pedestrian accidents and fatalities is increasing. In 2017, there were 260 fatalities, up from 236 in 2016 and 130 in 2011.
If you were injured by a car while crossing an intersection or while lawfully crossing the street at any other location, retain an experienced Smyrna pedestrian accident lawyer to help you with your claim.
General Duty of Care to Pedestrians
The duty of motorists toward pedestrians is found in Georgia statute O.C.G.A. § 40-6-3:
“Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian on any roadway, shall give warning by honking his horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.”
Under Georgia law, drivers have to take special precautions when pedestrians are on the roadways. Drivers in residential areas should already be on alert of the likely presence of small children. Likewise, pedestrians have rights as well as responsibilities under these statutes.
Sounding the horn to alert a pedestrian who is crossing the roadway and not apparently aware of the car’s presence is necessary under the law, and a failure to do so could expose the driver to liability if he strikes the person, regardless if the driver felt the person was not lawfully crossing. So long as the motorist had the opportunity to honk the horn but failed to do so, the driver may find himself as a defendant in an injury claim.
Watch Out For Noticeably Impaired Pedestrians
The law is also explicit when an obviously intoxicated, incapacitated or confused person is present on the roadway or on the edge of a sidewalk. What constitutes “proper precautions” in these situations depends on the circumstances and what a reasonable driver exercising ordinary care would have done in this or a similar situation. An incapacitated or confused person could be a homeless individual with obvious mental health issues.
Most people can spot an impaired or intoxicated individual by their manner of walking or staggering. If the person steps out into the road, then “proper precautions” might entail honking or at least coming to a full stop and allowing the person to cross. But if the person is obviously visually impaired, such as walking with a cane out in front of them or being assisted by a service dog, then the driver must yield to the person, regardless of where he is on the roadway. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-94.
If the motorist violated a traffic law when the accident occurred, this is considered “negligence per se” or as a matter of law, and there is a legal presumption of negligence. This makes it easier for claimants to recover compensation.
Duty of Care to Pedestrian in a Crosswalk
Unfortunately, many pedestrian accidents occur in crosswalks, despite traffic signals or flashing lights alerting motorists that a pedestrian is in the crosswalk or is about to enter it. A motorist’s duty to pedestrians in crosswalks is found in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-91:
“(a) The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For the purposes of this subsection, “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel.”
As soon as a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk to your right, you are obligated to stop to allow the person to cross, though you can proceed as soon as the person is on the other half of the roadway or the lane for the opposite direction of traffic. If the person is crossing from your left, you must stop as soon as that person is halfway across and enters your lane of traffic.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Any number of factors can lead to a pedestrian injury or fatality by a motorist. These include:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Poor lighting at intersection or crosswalk
- Failing to stop completely at intersection or crosswalk
- Cutting off a pedestrian in a crosswalk
- Careless backing up of a vehicle
- Vehicle to the rear of a vehicle stopped for pedestrian overtakes or passes it and strikes the pedestrian
Most accidents occur at night and in urban and suburban areas. About 25% of victims are age 65 or over with another 25% being persons age 15 and under. This suggests that the inexperience of children or their inability to appreciate the danger due to their young age are to blame. Seniors may be unfocused, not appreciate the risk due to dementia, or too slow when crossing at a location other than a crosswalk and unable to avoid an inattentive motorist.
Duty of a Pedestrian
Every person has a legal duty to act reasonably and cautiously. If a person’s conduct was negligent in causing their own injuries or contributed to it, then they only collect compensation for an injury commensurate with their degree of comparative negligence. O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33. For instance, an award of $500,000 will be reduced to $350,000 if the claimant was 30% at fault. However, the claimant’s own comparative negligence must not exceed 49% or no compensation will be awarded.
A pedestrian’s duty of care includes following these laws:
- Yielding to traffic unless you entered the roadway safely and before traffic
- Not crossing the street in a diagonal fashion unless signs or traffic signals direct you to do so
- Using a crosswalk when in between traffic signals
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)
In most cases where a pedestrian is struck and injured by a negligent motorist, the claimant can seek compensation from the driver’s auto liability policy. In Georgia, the minimum coverage for drivers is $25,000/$50,000.
But because there is a high risk that a driver who fled the scene of a pedestrian accident will either not be found or is later arrested but does not possess insurance, the injured person must look to their own auto policy for uninsured coverage. You can also use the policy of a household member for coverage.
In an UM case, your own insurer becomes the adversarial party. You still must prove that the motorist who struck you and fled was at-fault for the accident and you did not suddenly dart out into traffic or were highly inebriated and walked into the path of an approaching vehicle whose driver had no opportunity to avoid striking you.
Litigation in UM cases are similar to any other personal injury claim can happen so retaining a skilled Smyrna personal injury lawyer is essential. Even if liability is not disputed, there is still the issue of proving all your damages. These may include past and future income loss, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If your claim is not settled, it will go to binding arbitration instead of before a jury.
Also, if the at-fault motorist is a party but has minimal or low liability limits, you can use the underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) of your own policy to obtain more compensation, so long as it exceeds the limits of the defendant’s policy.
Tobin Injury Law – Your Smyrna Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Contact and retain a skilled and experienced Smyrna pedestrian accident attorney if you were injured while walking, jogging or running. By having a dedicated legal professional handle your claim, you have a much higher likelihood of receiving the compensation your case deserves. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We are here to assist you 24/7. Call (404) 665-9665 to reach a member of our skilled legal team and schedule your free, confidential consultation.