COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

National Walking Day I Pedestrian Accident Awareness

Published on April 1st, 2020

The first Wednesday in April is National Walking Day and, while Illinois residents are ordered to stay-at-home to limit the spread of COVID-19, taking a stroll outside is allowed and encouraged with social distancing of 6 feet or more. And, while walking is considered good for your health, it has become more and more hazardous as pedestrian deaths nationwide hit their highest point in almost 30 years. In Illinois alone, over a five year period (2014 to 2019), there’s been a 15% increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Of all crash-related fatalities during the same five year period, 14% were pedestrians. Over five thousand pedestrians were involved in crashes with 94% being injured. Only 6% of those pedestrians involved in a crash, escaped without injury according to IDOT. If the current year-to-date statistics are any indication, pedestrian fatalities may double by the end of the year. 

Top Reasons for Pedestrian Accidents

Many of the fatal pedestrian accidents in Chicago and Cook County involve people who were hit by vehicles crossing the street. Accidents occur due to pedestrian expectations that the motorist will yield to right-of-way laws but, in many cases, the law is ignored by the driver. Various statistics show that Chicago pedestrian fatalities often happen while people are walking in a crosswalk with the “walk” signal. 

In addition, The Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit made up of state highway safety offices, indicated that distracted pedestrians and drivers may be partially responsible for the increase in pedestrian deaths after decades of a steady decline.

Types of Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Pedestrians are most vulnerable to critical and life-threatening injuries because they have little or no protection if struck by a vehicle, bus or truck. With this, pedestrians incur a broad range of injuries including damage to the neck and spinal column; bone fractures; serious bruises; broken arms; broken legs; and various types of internal bleeding and other “soft tissue” damage. Blunt force trauma injuries to the chest can also occur. And, among the most serious injuries that can result from someone being hit by a vehicle is traumatic brain injuries (TBI). 

Pedestrian injuries may lead to temporary or permanent physical impairment and recovery may require a significant amount of physical and occupational rehabilitation.

Stay Alert to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents

There are many steps pedestrians can take to minimize the risk of being hit by a car while walking. First and foremost, those walking need to be aware of their surroundings and should never assume a motorist will abide by Illinois yield laws. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has published pedestrian safety tips on its website “Everyone is a pedestrian”. In addition, the CDC document titled “Walk This Way!  Taking Steps for Pedestrian Safety” offers the following tips:

  • Whenever possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk or intersection.
  • Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing retro-reflective clothing.
  • It’s safest to walk on a sidewalk, but if one is not available, walk on the shoulder and face traffic.
  • Avoid distractions such as electronic devices that take your attention off the road.

Illinois Pedestrian Traffic Safety Laws

While both drivers and pedestrians are responsible for traffic safety, drivers should always be on alert and prepared to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian and motorists should avoid driving unnecessarily close to pedestrians. And, when approaching a pedestrian with a disability (walking with a guide dog, using a cane, or in a wheelchair or other assistive device on a sidewalk or roadway) the pedestrian has the right-of-way and is granted the same rights as any pedestrian.

Based on Illinois Rules of the Road, a driver must come to a complete stop (and yield):

  • When a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk.
  • On school days, when children are in close proximity to a school zone crosswalk.
  • A driver must yield to a pedestrian.
  • When a pedestrian is in an unmarked crosswalk on the driver’s side of the roadway and there are no traffic control signals.
  • When making a turn at any intersection.
  • When making a lawful turn on a red light after coming to a complete stop.
  • After coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or flashing red signal at an intersection.
  • When a pedestrian enters a crosswalk before the traffic light changed.
  • When a pedestrian is walking with a green light, to a walking person symbol or a walk signal.
  • When a pedestrian is leaving or entering a street or highway from an alley, building, private road or driveway.
  • When a pedestrian is entering an intersection with a flashing yellow arrow.

Pedestrian Injury Costs  

There are many types of expenses that can be directly incurred when someone is hit by a car or other vehicle.  Typically, medical bills can be expensive, especially if the person does not have health insurance. Many pedestrians who have been hit and injured by a vehicle seek to obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Compensation can include many different types and the amount of can vary depending on many different factors, including the types and severity of the injuries:

  • Medical costs (past, current and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of function
  • Lost wages

A personal injury lawyer can provide an overview as to what types of compensation and what amounts can be reasonably expected given the type of accident and the degree of injuries.

What To Do If You Have Been Injured In A Pedestrian Accident

If you or someone you know has been injured as a pedestrian in a collision, there are steps you should take to protect your health and your rights, including the right to potential injury compensation if the accident was the fault of another person or entity such as a municipality.

If you are hit by a car or any other vehicle you should immediately get a comprehensive medical exam. There are many health and legal reasons for this recommendation. One of the most important reasons is that some accident injury symptoms are not immediately apparent or what some describe as “delayed onset.”

Delayed onset may not be apparent at the accident scene, hours later or even months later. These injuries can be more serious and fatal than those injuries which are readily visible and easily diagnosed. As an example,  symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may also not present immediately and can be misdiagnosed. If you have been involved in an accident and in the weeks following notice any of the following symptoms, it is imperative that you seek medical attention:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability 
  • Depression

A delay in the treatment of these types of accident injuries can create a dangerous health threat and also impact your personal injury case. Talk to a pedestrian accident personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. The personal injury lawyer can determine if the filing of a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate and also determine responsibility for the accident, injury and even death. 

Contact Our Cook County Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident due to the negligence of another person, our personal injury attorneys can help you receive compensation for the damages you have suffered. There is no fee unless we obtain compensation for you.

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