Of all traffic accidents, pedestrian accidents are most likely to be fatal. There are many reasons why this is the case. Ultimately, it is important for injured pedestrians and their loved ones to hold drivers accountable for the injuries they cause. This is especially important when the driver’s negligence was so serious as to cause death.
The experienced pedestrian traffic accident attorneys at Arash Law are here to help all injury victims protect their legal rights to compensation. Learn more about California’s rate of pedestrian traffic fatalities, how California compares to other states, why pedestrian accidents are more likely to be fatal and the common injuries they cause, and how pedestrians can protect their legal rights after an auto accident.
The Numbers in California
The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released its preliminary report on 2020 pedestrian traffic fatalities in the U.S. California was projected to have 485 pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2020.
This was not only the highest number of pedestrian deaths of any state – but it was also an increase in deaths over the first half of 2019. California was one of just seven states that made up more than half of all pedestrian fatalities in America in the first six months of 2020. It is important to understand these numbers in context. California has long been the state with the highest population, so its traffic accident numbers are usually the highest, as well.
Simply comparing California’s number to other states does not give the full picture of what is happening on our roads. It is, however, helpful to compare California to its own numbers year over year. The fact that California saw more pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2020 than 2019 (even with lockdown orders in place) is concerning.
How California Compares to the Other States
It can be helpful to see how California’s trend compares with trends in other states. For example: when comparing pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020, nine states were projected to have declines of ten percent or more. Unfortunately, California was projected to have a five percent increase over that same period.
This is especially concerning in light of the pandemic. Many states experienced a decrease in traffic – and thus traffic accidents – during the early months of the pandemic in the first half of 2020. California’s pedestrian fatalities saw no such decline. It is important to examine trends that started before the pandemic as well. It is not yet known exactly how COVID-19 affected traffic fatalities because the data is not yet available.
By looking at trends that started before COVID lockdown orders were in place, we can see what is happening in other states. For example, our neighbor state of Arizona experienced two consecutive years of declining pedestrian fatalities. This trend continued during the pandemic, as Arizona was projected to have fewer pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2020 than the first half of 2019.
Here in California, we also experienced a slight decrease (just over five percent) in pedestrian fatalities between 2018 and 2019. (See: California Office of Traffic Safety quick stats.) But this progress did not continue into 2020. The first half of the year already saw an increase over the first half of 2019, concerning in a state where many large cities are spending millions of dollars on Project Vision Zero campaigns designed to reduce traffic fatalities.
Why Pedestrian Accidents Are More Likely to Be Fatal
It is an unfortunate fact that pedestrians are simply more likely to suffer fatal injuries than accident victims who have protection from the collision. Vehicle occupants are well protected by airbags, seatbelts, and the structure of the vehicle itself. Metal frames are designed to crumple in strategic places in order to divert forces from the passenger compartment, which has been demonstrated to reduce the number of car accident injuries that are fatal.
Pedestrians, of course, have none of these protections. Their bodies are subjected to the full force of a collision with the vehicle, the pavement, nearby trees, or anything else their bodies strike during an accident. Motorcycle riders and bicyclists have some protection from their injuries. Time and again, helmets have been proven to reduce the severity of injuries to the head and brain.
It is absolutely critical for any rider to protect themselves with a helmet whenever they are on a motorcycle or bike. Other than this headgear, they too have limited protection from the force of a collision, which is why broken bones and internal injuries are common in accidents involving a motorcycle or bicycle. Both riders and pedestrians are entitled to fair compensation for the serious injuries they are likely to suffer as a result of a driver’s negligence.
Common Pedestrian Injuries
There are many different injuries that pedestrians can suffer in a car accident. Any part of the body can be seriously damaged without the protection of a vehicle, so pedestrian injuries are often complex and serious. Here are some of the most common injuries our pedestrian accident lawyers come across in our cases:
Brain injuries are among the most serious of all pedestrian injuries. The brain controls every function of the human body, so even a small amount of damage can drastically affect your ability to function. Fatal pedestrian injuries often involve trauma to the brain. Even brain injuries that seem mild could be masking a more serious condition.
Symptoms of a mild concussion could actually be the result of a slow bleed in the brain. If the bleeding is not stopped in time, the injury could be fatal. Even brain injuries that are, in fact, less serious can affect your life for years to come. Cognitive symptoms like forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating can continue for years after an accident.
These, in turn, can lead to frustration, irritability, personality changes, and other mental health disorders. Injury victims are entitled to fair compensation for all the symptoms they will endure over their lifetimes.
The neck is a delicate structure that houses a vital organ. The spinal cord controls sensation, movement, and other critical functions. Damage to the spinal cord can result in pain, paralysis, or even death. Neck injuries must be carefully assessed by a qualified medical professional immediately after an accident in order to prevent the injury from becoming worse. Broken vertebrae in the neck can also injure the spinal cord they are designed to protect.
Victims must be carefully moved in order to prevent further injury, so be sure to call the paramedics to the scene of any pedestrian accident that involves potential neck injuries. Emergency medical personnel are trained to move injury victims without aggravating their injuries. Even neck injuries that seem minor at first can result in years of pain and suffering. Whiplash is a common neck injury after any accident. It occurs when the neck cracks back and forth (like a whip) during an accident.
The muscles and soft tissue in the area can become inflamed and sore, and this is a painful condition. Some cases resolve on their own after a few days of rest and pain medication. Other times, the damage lasts longer, and the injury victim is left with pain and discomfort in the neck that lasts for years. The best way to prevent lasting damage is to see a doctor as soon as possible after any accident, follow all recommendations for rest, medication, and rehabilitative services (like physical therapy).
Pedestrians can suffer serious damage to their internal organs during a car accident. The force of the collision can crush the abdominal cavity, permanently damaging the organs inside. The victim might not know about these crush injuries for hours – or even days after the accident. If you wait until you start to show symptoms of internal injuries, it could be too late to repair the damage.
It is important to see a doctor right away after any pedestrian accident, even if you do not show symptoms right away. Quick intervention could prevent serious, life-threatening conditions from developing in the hours after you are hit by a car. Internal bleeding is another life-threatening condition that may not show symptoms right away.
If internal bleeding is slow, it can take hours for the victim to show symptoms of shock and blood loss. A doctor can detect internal bleeding more quickly with x-rays and imaging studies (as well as by monitoring the victim’s blood pressure for unexplained changes). Once again, early intervention gives victims the best possible chances of recovery.
Insurance companies often treat broken bones as a relatively minor condition. They claim that pain and suffering is not significant and that it ends as soon as the cast is off. For many victims, the reality is far more serious. Broken bones cause weeks of pain and discomfort while the victim is in a cast.
Some victims even require painful surgery before the cast is put on. Once the cast is off, there is a painful recovery period, in which the victim must rebuild muscle strength, which is a physically painful process. For many victims, the pain in the surrounding muscles lasts for years after a broken bone is healed.
Car accident victims are entitled to fair compensation for all of this pain and suffering. Not every broken bone is a “simple break,” either. Some broken bones do not heal well due to underlying medical conditions (such as osteoporosis). Others require multiple surgeries to correct ongoing complications.
Broken bones can even cause life-threatening conditions: if, for example, a blood vessel is cut on the shards of broken bone, a victim could bleed out unless there are medical professionals on hand to stop the bleeding immediately. Whether your broken bones are simple or complex, you are entitled to fair compensation for all the pain and suffering you experience because of another driver’s negligence.
What Pedestrians Can Do to Protect Their Legal Rights
There are many important things that pedestrians can do to protect their own legal rights after a car accident. By understanding your rights and being prepared, you will be in the best possible position to protect them until you can hire a pedestrian injury lawyer. Follow these important steps to protect your legal rights after an auto accident occurs:
- Be sure to get medical attention right away. Do not hesitate to call for an ambulance, even if you are not sure whether you will need to go to the emergency department.
- Do not discuss what happened or who was at fault with the driver. You may see if anyone needs help or ask others for help if you need it, but do not discuss the details of the accident.
- If you do not leave the scene in an ambulance, find an urgent care facility or emergency room. Seeing a doctor right away will help ensure that any asymptomatic or latent injuries are treated in a timely manner.
- Find an injury lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you have a lawyer advising you, the better protected your legal rights will be.
- Follow through on all recommendations for treatment, medication, rehabilitation, and other therapies from your medical providers.
Experienced, Aggressive California Injury Lawyers for All Pedestrian Accident Cases
You could spend hours searching online for the best “pedestrian accident lawyers near me”, but you’ve already found the best injury law firm in California. Here at Arash Law, our skilled motor vehicle accident attorneys have decades of experience. Our skilled legal team has collected over 200 million dollars for clients across the Golden State.
Our experienced legal professionals serve clients in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, San Jose, San Diego, Fresno, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. Call (888) 488-1391 today to schedule your free consultation. We fight hard to protect injury victims’ right to fair compensation and to hold negligent drivers accountable for the damage they cause, which helps keep the roads of California safer for everyone.