We all know that there are thousands of motor vehicle accidents that occur in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts every year, especially in our bustling big cities. Most individuals will normally think of an accident between one or more vehicles, which of course can result in serious injuries, or death. You should also be aware that there are other types of accidents involving vehicles that often are much more serious and life threatening, such as pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrian Accidents Can Be Deadly!
Motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians have been growing rapidly and can be much more lethal. Without the protection of metal, seatbelts, and airbags, pedestrians hit by vehicles often end up with much more serious injuries and more are attributed to deaths, than those involving vehicles hitting other vehicles.
Pedestrians attempting to cross a street is the most common cause of pedestrian accident. However, sometimes a pedestrian can be hit on the side of a street or while on a sidewalk, in parking lots, or anywhere else cars may travel. Automobiles aren’t the only culprits. Motorcycles, big trucks, recreational vehicles, and even motorcycles have caused serious injuries to pedestrians.
Pedestrians Are Normally Entitled to the Right of Way
All drivers must be aware that Massachusetts law favors the rights of pedestrians over vehicles. Pedestrians normally have the right of way and a vehicle must yield to them, but this is not absolute. Pedestrians should always yield to any oncoming highway traffic for their own safety, since the vehicles may not be able to stop in time.
In cities that have crosswalks, local and state law may dictate that the pedestrian must cross at a corner or a crosswalk. If they instead avoid the available crosswalk in favor of another area of the street, they may be held responsible. Pedestrians should use common sense and remain aware and cautious of vehicular traffic at all times.
Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 89, §11, a pedestrian crossing a street within a crosswalk, or at an intersection with the “Walk” signal on, or on a green light, has the right of way.
In addition, vehicles are required to slow down and allow a pedestrian walking on a road to proceed safely. They can only start passing when the pedestrian has crossed safely and is out of the way. Pedestrians should not take advantage of these rules as it can come back to haunt them, or indeed injure them. It is not worth the risk to take unnecessary chances with your life.
The Pedestrian’s Responsibilities and Duty of Care
It is extremely important that a pedestrian accident victim knows his responsibilities both before and after the accident to protect his legal rights and future recovery for any injuries or damages.
The pedestrian’s duty of care is violated if he or she takes the following actions:
- Failing to utilize available crosswalks
- Ignoring walk signals present at an intersection
- Walking in front of a vehicle instead of yielding
- Causing traffic delays
When the duty of care is violated, the pedestrian could be held fully or partially liable for the accident and may not receive compensation, even if they are seriously injured.
Many pedestrian accidents result in severe injuries, such as head trauma, fractures, back and spine injuries, internal bleeding, organ damage, and even death. It is important to do everything possible to avoid being the victim of an accident in the first place.
Pedestrians are obliged to obey traffic laws and to evaluate traffic conditions. This is for their own protection, so do not take these laws lightly. Some common-sense rules to keep you safe are:
- Make sure you are always paying attention as you are walking near traffic.
- Avoid talking on a cellphone or listening to music on headphones as it can distract you and you may not hear or see an oncoming vehicle.
- Make sure the driver sees you by making eye contact.
- Follow all pedestrian rules and laws and use crosswalks when available.
- You shouldn’t proceed across a street if you’re aware of approaching vehicles, despite your normal right of way.
What Should You Do If You Are a Pedestrian Involved in an Accident?
The most important thing to do if you are the pedestrian hit by a vehicle is to call for emergency help if you are injured and be sure you get out of traffic and into a safe location. Ask for assistance if needed.
Prompt investigation and preservation of evidence is a vital element in proving a personal injury and wrongful death case involving pedestrians.
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident that details any damages and injuries.
- Make sure to call the police without delay so they will investigate and write a police report with the details of the accident.
- Attempt to get other witness names and statements.
- If you have been injured, you should avoid admitting guilt or give statements to insurance investigators before you are represented by an attorney.
- Quickly hire an experienced pedestrian personal injury attorney who will protect your rights and advise you on what you should do.
- Write down the details of the accident early on as memories can wane.
- Get the name, phone number, and insurance provider of the driver.
What Steps to Take After an Accident That Can Get You Justice
To protect your rights after a pedestrian accident and to help get medical expenses and compensation awarded to you for your injuries, there are five important things you can do the first days and weeks after your accident that will help to win your case:
- Hire an attorney without delay to evaluate and proceed with your injury claim. The law firm will also inform the person who may be responsible for the accident of your intention to file a claim for your injuries. You don’t want to wait long because of the Massachusetts statute of limitations which requires the filing of a lawsuit within three years of pedestrian accidents or you will be barred from any recovery.
- Preserving all evidence that can prove who is responsible for your pedestrian injury and damages is of the utmost importance. Gather any object, items, and photographs taken at the scene and provide them to your attorney.
- Locate witnesses to the accident who can prove and win your case and get you the help you need. Witnesses and testimony can be the strongest evidence of all.
- Write down whatever you know and remember about the accident, any injuries you sustained, and any other financial losses you’ve suffered, such as loss of income, resulting from the accident.
- Take good notes of conversations or correspondence that you have with people involved with the accident.
If you learn and abide by these basic rules, you will be grateful if the day comes and you have to go to court to obtain compensation for when you were involved in a pedestrian accident.