Without seat belts, air bags, helmets or other means of protection, pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable travelers on our roads. And in our car-centered culture, many drivers of cars and trucks simply don’t look for or don’t notice pedestrians; many are unaware of or simply ignore local laws requiring them to yield to pedestrians trying to cross a street. That can mean serious injuries or death for the pedestrian.
Tragically, the number of pedestrian accidents is on the rise in South Carolina, and significantly more people have been killed in accidents with vehicles in recent years. In fact, according to preliminary 2012 reports from the South Carolina Highway Patrol:
- At least 115 pedestrians were hit and killed in South Carolina in 2012.
- In 2011, there were 110 pedestrians killed in South Carolina.
- In 2010, there were 89 pedestrians killed.
Pedestrian accidents aren’t a problem just in South Carolina either. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the number of pedestrian fatalities increased 3 percent nationwide from 2010 to 2011. The increase came even as the total number of highway deaths fell to the lowest level in more than six decades.
While law enforcement is continuing public education efforts on pedestrian and driver safety, this will come as little comfort to those pedestrians who have been seriously injured or to those who lost their loved ones in pedestrian accidents.
Everyone is at Risk of Pedestrian Accidents in SC
Anyone who walks on or near a roadway could potentially become the victim of a pedestrian accident. However, some people are at greater risk than others, and some locations present a greater risk than others. According to NHTSA’s analysis of the pedestrian deaths and accidents:
- 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened in urban areas as opposed to in rural settings.
- 79 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred at non-intersections as opposed to at intersections.
- 88 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened during normal weather conditions rather than at times of low visibility.
- 68 percent of pedestrian accidents occurred at night.
- 19 percent of pedestrians killed in vehicle accidents in 2010 were age 65 or older.
- 19 percent of all children ages 5 to 9 who died in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
- Children under 15 accounted for 7 percent of pedestrians killed in accidents and for 23 percent of pedestrians injured in crashes. Because children cannot drive and may not be fully aware of the dangers of traffic, they are at special risk for a pedestrian accident.
- 69 percent of pedestrians killed were men.
- Alcohol (consumed by either the driver or the pedestrian) was a factor in 47 percent of traffic accidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities.
Pedestrian Collisions in South Carolina
Taking Legal Action after a Pedestrian Crash
While traffic laws vary between cities and towns in South Carolina, the law generally gives pedestrians rights as well as responsibilities. Drivers of cars and trucks must yield to pedestrians, even those who violate traffic laws, but pedestrians have a legal duty to obey those laws and take reasonable care to avoid being hit. In short, everyone has a duty to ensure traffic safety. The law gives drivers a special duty to watch out for blind and disabled people, children getting out of school buses and other specific categories of pedestrians.
When a pedestrian is injured in a crash, it may be possible to hold the driver responsible for the accident. Pedestrians can sue a negligent driver who was unreasonably careless and whose bad driving behavior was directly related to the crash.
For example, a pedestrian could sue a driver who:
- Failed to yield the right of way to a pedestrian
- Ran a red light or stop sign
- Was speeding and was unable to stop the car before hitting a pedestrian
- Who veered off the road and struck a pedestrian
- Who was distracted, drowsy or drunk and who negligently hit a pedestrian as a result.
In any situation where the driver’s behavior was unreasonably careless or unreasonably dangerous, a pedestrian who got hurt as a result of that behavior could sue to collect compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other losses. If death resulted, then the surviving family members could be able to take action against the driver in a wrongful death case.
Hit by a Car While Walking? Contact An Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer in South Carolina
Pedestrians who survive a crash often come away with very serious, potentially disabling injuries, including neck and spine injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and multiple fractures. Good legal representation can help you secure money to help pay medical bills and lost wages, as well as compensate you for non-economic damages that resulted from the crash.
Our firm is located in Columbia, but we represent injured pedestrians all over South Carolina. If we represent you, you will pay legal fees only if we win compensation for your case.