Unfortunately, pedestrian injuries are not uncommon in Georgia cities such as Atlanta and Savannah. Many pedestrians who are involved in a collision with a motor vehicle driver sustain serious, permanent injuries, or even death. In Georgia, pedestrians have a right to receive compensation for injuries if they are hit by a car, but only if the vehicle driver is at fault for causing the collision. Here are some of the questions I receive as an injury lawyer who frequently represents pedestrians who have been hurt in Georgia. Crosswalk sign
Q: If I am hit by a car while crossing the street, is the driver automatically at fault?
A: Not always. In fact, there are many circumstances where an accident is caused by the pedestrian’s failure to obey the law and cross the street safely. If a pedestrian crosses the street unlawfully, such as walking through an intersection during a “don’t walk” signal, or crosses the street at an area other than a designated crosswalk, a vehicle driver cannot always be blamed for the accident. Pedestrians can’t just cross the street wherever and whenever they want.
Q: What if a pedestrian has been drinking?
A: It is estimated that 70% of Georgia pedestrian accidents occur because the pedestrian was jaywalking or intoxicated. If someone is drunk and wanders into the path of an oncoming car, sometimes there is nothing the driver can do to stop without hitting the pedestrian. If a pedestrian has been drinking and crosses the street unsafely, they will have a hard time convincing a jury that they were not at least partially at fault for the collision.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol was a factor in 48% of fatal crashes where a pedestrian was hit by a car, whether it was the driver or the pedestrian who was drunk. 36% of pedestrians killed in crashes where alcohol was a factor had a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, above the legal limit. While you may think walking is a safe alternative to driving if you have been drinking, it’s important to remember that impaired pedestrians are killed every day in motor vehicle accidents.
Q: What can drivers do to help ensure pedestrian safety?
A: Drivers need to know the law regarding pedestrian and crosswalk safety. If there is a pedestrian in a crosswalk, a driver must stop completely and let the pedestrian make it safely to the other side before entering the crosswalk. Pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way.
Defensive driving is always important. If you are driving through an area with a lot of foot traffic, be aware of those walking around you. According to the CDC, there is one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours, and a pedestrian gets hurt in a collision with a vehicle every eight minutes.
Q: What can pedestrians do to avoid getting hit?
A: Most pedestrian injuries occur at night, between 3pm and 11pm. This is when drivers are the least likely to see a pedestrian due to decreased visibility. If you are walking at night, you should take extra safety precautions. As well as obeying all traffic laws, you should also try only to cross the street in well-lit areas with good visibility. You shouldn’t jaywalk even in the daytime, but it is especially dangerous to do so at night. Only cross at lights when you have the right of way, and use designated crosswalks at all times.
Pedestrians can sustain very serious injuries when they are hit by a car. If you or a loved one were injured while crossing the street, you may have a valid claim against a negligent driver. As each case is different, you should contact a Georgia pedestrian injury attorney right away to see if you have a legitimate claim against an at-fault driver.