North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

A teen who sustained injuries after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the road will have the opportunity again to take her case to trial, following a recent ruling by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
In Castro v. Thomas, a trial court judge had granted a directed verdict to the defense upon finding that:
Speed was not a factor in the crash;
Defendant did not see plaintiff until mere seconds before impact;
Plaintiff was contributorily negligent in crossing the road outside a designated crosswalk, in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-174.

The incident happened in Asheboro, about 1.5 hours northeast of Charlotte. North Carolina is one of just four states that continues to follow the contributory negligence rule, which hold that a plaintiff found to have contributed to his or her alleged damages to any degree will be totally barred from any damage recovery.
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When a car hits a pedestrian, the person on foot is often seriously injured. These accidents can result in death or severe injury to victims, including broken pelvic bones and limbs and serious internal damage to organs and the nervous system. People who survive are often left paralyzed.

crosswalk.jpgThe reason is quite simple: While people often take car safety for granted, a car weighs thousand of pounds, and, even at speeds of less than 5-miles-per-hour, that weight translates into a tremendous amount of energy and force being transferred to the pedestrian.

According to a recent news report from WXII 12, a pedestrian was killed after being hit by a car on University Parkway in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Accident investigators report a 64-year-old man was crossing University Parkway when an 18-year-old driver hit him with his car.
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Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc., a case from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, involved plaintiff who was hit by a car at defendant’s auto parts store. According to court records, plaintiff drove to the store and parked on the side of the building where there was no sidewalk or protective bollards. A bollard is a round post made of steel or concrete to stop a moving vehicle. At this store, there were bollards at the front side of the store, and they were painted bright orange.

bollard-1271697-m.jpgAs plaintiff walked to the front of the store, he reached for the entrance door and heard a warning. He turned and saw a car about to hit him. The car was only a few feet away when he first noticed it. He tried to run behind one of the bollards, but it was too late to prevent getting hit. Plaintiff was seriously injured.
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The recent car accident case of GEICO v. Insurer before a Florida appellate court may not have any direct bearing on plaintiffs here in North Carolina, but the issues raised are highly relevant.
The case involves an 83-year-old driver with minimal insurance who was legally blind when he injured two pedestrians and then later lied about it under oath prior to trial. The man’s doctors had told him he shouldn’t be driving, and he concealed this fact as well.

The plaintiffs later sued when, after receiving the full $20,000 policy limit, the insurance company refused to pay anything more toward mounting medical expenses. The question became whether the insurance company should have to pay sanctions imposed by the court against the driver/defendant for the falsehoods he provided under oath. Per the state’s laws on civil claims administrations, the insurer only had 30 days in which to issue a reservation of rights, asserting coverage might be withheld due to defendant’s misrepresentations. Instead, the company waited nearly a year to do so, by which point the insured had died (of unrelated causes) and the hearing against his estate was slated for just days later.

Our Greensboro car accident attorneys understand the injured plaintiffs were granted leave to seek punitive damages (reserved for cases in which the at-fault party displayed reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others). The court also imposed a $27,000 fine for costs and attorneys’ fees. The insurer argued it shouldn’t have to pay because the insured lied under oath about his condition, which was a violation of the terms of his policy.
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Authorities in Fayetteville are investigating the sudden death of an elderly pedestrian and the serious injury to his wife as they attempted to cross the street after sharing a meal at a local restaurant. pedestrianpictogram.jpg

The pair, visiting from Pennsylvania, were trying to cross a four-lane road while returning to a nearby hotel where they were staying. City officials have called that stretch of road one of the deadliest for pedestrians, with many travelers attempting to cross on foot back-and-forth between nearby hotels and restaurants located off the highway. A crosswalk was installed, yet the road is poorly lit and the speed limit remains 55 miles-per-hour.

Charlotte car accident attorneys understand that a recent report by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association indicates that while pedestrian accidents saw an overall downward shift nationally for the first time in years, it increased yet again in North Carolina.
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According to a recent South Carolina news report, a 36-year-old man was fatally struck by a vehicle along the roadway.


Our Spartanburg car accident attorneys know how dangerous walking along the roadway can be and are dedicated to helping pedestrians travel safely.

A study by theUnited States Department of Transportation revealed that there were 4,280 pedestrian fatalities and more than 70,000 injuries in the United States in 2010.
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Whether in a rural part of the country or in a densely populated urban center, crossing the safe street crossing can be life-saving. Teaching children to “look both ways” or “left-right-left” is only one aspect of pedestrian safety. While the first step to traffic safety for pedestrians, motorists and cycling is awareness, there are number of other safety measures that can help keep pedestrians safe.

In 2011, there were 4,432 pedestrians killed while crossing the street. This staggering figure highlights the importance of traffic safety and should make motorists more aware when approaching an intersection. Our Charleston car accident attorneys are dedicated to keeping our community safe and in bringing awareness to pedestrian safety in North and South Carolina.


Here are several other factors to keep you and your loved ones safe when crossing an intersection:

Stay sober. While drunk-driving is an obvious safety issue, many people do not realize that 48% of pedestrian accidents involve a drunk driver or drunk pedestrian. According to the Department of Transportation, alcohol impairs walking ability, perception and judgment which could result in an accident or injury.

Use a crosswalk. It may seem self-evident to use a crosswalk, but many pedestrians think it is just as safe to run across the street at any point. Seventy percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in non-crosswalk crossings, which means that the intersection can give a driver advanced warning and keep you safe.

Be more careful at night. While you cannot always avoid crossing a street at night, you should be extra cautious. Drivers may not see you, even if you think they can. Remember that 70% of all pedestrian fatalities occur at night.

Urban dwellers and visitors should be more careful. City life means more cars, more bikes, and more pedestrians. When living or visiting a densely populated area, pedestrians should be more cautious and not assume that a driver sees them or is going to stop. Three out of four pedestrian deaths occur in cities.

Be careful on the weekends. Thirty-nine percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on weekend nights. This may involve drinking and driving or reduced vision and distraction. When crossing the intersection on the weekends, you should pay attention to vehicles and never assume that a driver can see you.

Males may be at a higher risk. According to reports, more than 2/3 of pedestrians killed are males. They also had a higher rate of accidents in every age group, 0-85. Whether they are willing to take more risks or are more likely to be out on the street at night, males should be wary when crossing the street, especially if they have been drinking.

Nationwide, pedestrian accidents have resulted in serious injury and fatality. Victims can suffer broken bones and head injuries as well as devastating permanent injuries, including loss of brain function or paralysis. In the worst cases, accidents can be fatal to victims. Pedestrians in South Carolina should be extra wary of crossing the street–it is one of the top three states for pedestrian fatalities.
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Recently, a South Carolina woman was killed while she was crossing the street in her wheelchair. The woman crossed at an area that was heavily traveled and that sees a lot of foot traffic. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the area sees many pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchairs, there are no crosswalks. 1118296_crosswalk.jpg

Our Rock Hill accident lawyers know that pedestrians need to be especially careful where they cross the road. Jaywalking or crossing at an area not designated as a crosswalk can be deadly as drivers may not expect to see you and may not be able to stop their vehicles in time to prevent hitting you.

Pedestrians Need to Obey the Rules of the Road
According to WBTW, an elderly woman was crossing Mr. Joe White Avenue in her wheelchair when she was struck by a van. The accident happened late in May.

Other pedestrians who regularly travel in the same area expressed concern about whether the location was safe. One resident, for example, indicated that he normally rides his wheelchair in the bike lanes along that road because the sidewalks are very bumpy. The bike lanes are smoother and allow the pedestrian to avoid the bumps, which he indicated can bend his wheels.

Unfortunately, when any pedestrians, including those individuals in wheel chairs, move in places where motorists might not expect them, this can significantly increase the accident risk. A person who crosses outside of a designated crosswalk, whether on foot or in a wheelchair, could easily be hit by a car that has the right-of-way and that is either traveling too fast to stop or doesn’t see the pedestrian in time. A person who walks or uses a wheelchair in a bike lane could also potentially cause an accident since bicyclists and drivers would not expect him to be there.

The more populated a location is and the more heavily traveled it is with cars, bikes and pedestrians, the more important it is for everyone involved- including pedestrians- to obey the rules of the road.

Pedestrians may have lots of reasons for their failure to obey the laws. For example, the absence of easily-accessible crosswalks in this particular location on Mt. Joe Avenue may have driven the victim to cross outside of a crosswalk. If the road is poorly designed or designed in an unsafe way, then the government agency responsible for road design could be potentially to blame.

In this case, however, the Public Works Department denies that more crosswalks were needed in this location. The Public Works Department said that a study was conducted several years ago and that no additional safety measures were needed. Further, representatives from the South Carolina Department of Transportation indicated that it could cost around $75,000 to add a crosswalk and pedestrian signals.

Of course, there is no guarantee that the Public Works Departments’ study was accurate or was the best measure of whether crosswalks should have been present in the area or not. Further the cost should not be a hindrance to installing a crosswalk that could save someone’s life.

The bottom line is that pedestrians need to obey the rules of the road, but the road also needs to be safe. If the road is not designed correctly, then the government could be partially liable for accidents that happen even if pedestrians do step outside of the normal safety standards. This would be an example of a comparative fault claim and an experienced attorney would need to be consulted by the injured pedestrian or his/her surviving family members to determine who was mostly to blame for the crash.
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Not everyone understands the risks that elderly pedestrians face in North Carolina. Hendersonville does though. According to the County’s “Walk Wise, Drive Smart” program, more than 30 percent of its population are elderly residents.
Older pedestrians have a greater chance of suffering serious or fatal injuries if struck by a motor vehicle when walking than their younger counterparts. Unsafe conditions and poor transit options contribute to the risks.

Our Hendersonville pedestrian accident lawyers understand that the number of elderly killed while walking on America’s road is expected to increase given the aging of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By 2015, more than 15 million Americans age 65 and older will live in areas where public transportation service is poor or non-existent. That number is expected to keep growing as the baby boom generation “ages in place” in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive. And that’s why officials with Transportation for America conducted the “Aging in Place, Stuck with Options” study.

Absent access to affordable travel options, seniors face isolation, a reduced quality of life and possible economic hardship
According to the study, most residents stick to where they are once they reach retirement age. When they “age in place,” they’re stuck in the places with poor transit systems and are forced to deal with an area that no longer accommodates their needs.

Improving transportation safety is the best way for officials to head off the problem. When transit is scarce, two feet are all that’s left for many of these residents. After decades of rapid growth that focused almost exclusively on speeding traffic, Charlotte, North Carolina officials thankfully decided that they needed to rethink their street design guidelines.

Before the roadways were redesigned, the area didn’t have bike routes or a complete sidewalk network and suffered from limited connectivity and far too many cul-de-sacs. In the beginning of the 2000s, officials with the Charlotte Department of Transportation started building a street network design to help meet the needs of more travelers — including pedestrians.

The goal was to make getting around a lot easier and safer for everyone. But is it working?

We need to be on the lookout for our elderly pedestrians — in all areas. The reflexes and abilities of these travelers are diminishing and they’re less likely to react to roadway dangers. That’s why we have to stay one step ahead to help preserve their safety.

If you have an elderly family member, check in with them. Is there anything they need? If there any way you can help? Working alongside our seniors can help to preserve their safety and to keep them in our lives that much long. After all they’ve done for us, it’s the least we can do for them.
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On Highway 17 near 23rd, an SUV struck and killed a female pedestrian. According to WMBF, the woman was a 53-year-old resident who died of multiple trauma. Reportedly, she had been homeless in the area for about two years now.
Accident reports indicate that the woman was crossing the road with a number of other pedestrians. Reportedly, they were outside of the legal crosswalk when it all happened at roughly 6:00 p.m. The woman was wearing dark clothing when the northbound SUV hit her. Thankfully, the driver stopped and dialed 9-1-1. No charges will be filed.

Our Rock Hill pedestrian accident attorneys understand that this accident is helping to raise awareness in the community about the risks our pedestrians face. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, law enforcement officials will be stepping up their enforcement efforts to help to make sure that pedestrians are more aware when crossing the road. It’s all a part of the “SEE” campaign. It’s the “Stop, Educate, Enforce” campaign. Officers are asking that all pedestrians make eye contact with drivers before trying to cross in front of them. Officials are also working to make sure that pedestrians know and understand where it is legal to cross the street.

Last year, troopers were able to make contact with more than 7,000 South Carolina walkers. The year before that, officers were only able to make contact with about 3,000 pedestrians.

Pedestrians in the area report a number of ways that they are choosing to stay safe.

“Looking both ways for each direction and judging too that I’ve got enough time at my speed that I can cross and not have to make a run for it and not have to make someone throw their brakes on,” said resident Sandra Taylor.

Whichever way you decide that you want to stay safe out there, you’ve got to remember to look out for yourself. You can’t always assume that motorists are going to look out for you because the truth of the matter is that we’re overlooked by motorists all the time.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 4,500 pedestrians killed along roadways in the U.S. in 2010. In addition to these fatalities, we saw about 70,000 pedestrian injuries because of these same incidents.

In the state of South Carolina, there were close to 100 pedestrians killed in 2010. These accidents accounted for more than 11 percent of all of our traffic fatalities for the year.

Pedestrians are asked to be safe and cautious. Your defensive traveling skills are going to be your savior — not the habits of drivers. Unfortunately, pedestrians are commonly overlooked along our roadways. That’s why it’s important to make ourselves visible by wearing bright clothing and by making our walking as predictable as possible.
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