If you were hit by a car, an attorney can protect your rights
Every year, thousands of people are severely injured or die in pedestrian accidents due to the reckless or negligent actions of drivers. Because pedestrians have little or no protection when they are hit by a vehicle, holding negligent drivers accountable is critical, in Harris County and throughout Texas.
If you or a loved one has been hit by a car, seeking legal representation from an experienced Houston, TX pedestrian accident lawyer is essential. An attorney can protect your rights and advocate for fair compensation through a pedestrian accident claim or lawsuit.
Houston’s Top 5 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians
A report from LINK Houston highlights the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians and cyclists in the city:
- Fannin Street & Pierce Street.
- Ranchester Drive & Bellaire Boulevard.
- Westheimer Road & South Dairy Ashford Road.
- Long Point Road & Gessner Road.
- West Park Drive & US Route 59 South.
Intersections pose significant dangers for pedestrians due to several factors, including:
- Complex Traffic Dynamics: Intersections are where vehicles converge from multiple directions. This convergence can lead to confusion for drivers, especially those who are driving negligently, increasing the likelihood of collisions.
- Turning Vehicles: When vehicles make turns at intersections, they may not always notice or yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Both right- and left-turning vehicles can hit pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Traffic Signal Timing: Inconsistent or inadequate signal timing can leave pedestrians stranded in the middle of intersections when the light changes. This can result in pedestrians trying to rush across or getting caught in the path of turning vehicles.
- Distracted Driving: The prevalence of distracted driving, such as texting or using smartphones, has made drivers less attentive at intersections. This distraction can lead to drivers not noticing pedestrians until it's too late to avoid a collision.
- Visibility Issues: Depending on the intersection's design, there may be visibility challenges for both drivers and pedestrians. Overgrown vegetation, improperly placed signage, or poor lighting can reduce visibility, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Driver Speed and Behavior: Some drivers may not adhere to speed limits or engage in aggressive behaviors, such as running red lights or failing to yield the right of way to people on foot.
- Intersection Design: The design of an intersection itself can contribute to safety concerns. Poorly designed intersections may lack clear pedestrian pathways or fail to provide adequate space for pedestrians.
Our #1 Rated Personal Injury Attorney In Houston For Pedestrian Accidents Is:
Smith & Hassler
225 N Loop W #525, Houston, TX 77008
Directions To Smith & Hassler
How SUVs increase the risk to pedestrians
Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have gained popularity in recent years for their versatility and increased visibility on the road. However, their design and size can pose specific risks to pedestrians in the event of an accident.
According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one significant factor contributing to the severity of SUV-pedestrian accidents is the height of these vehicles. In a collision, the front bumper of an SUV often strikes a pedestrian's head or chest level, increasing the risk of severe injuries.
Additionally, SUVs can have larger blind spots, making it challenging for drivers to spot pedestrians, especially those who are shorter or obstructed from view by the vehicle's size. The greater weight of an SUV means thicker pillars are required to support the roof in the event of a rollover, and those pillars reduce the driver’s visibility from inside the cab.
The design of SUVs, including their front-end features, can contribute to the severity of injuries. Prominent grilles and bull bars, often found on SUVs, can cause more severe harm due to their rigid construction. Moreover, the shape of SUVs means pedestrians are more likely to actually be run over by the vehicle, increasing the risk of severe and even fatal injuries.
Speed and braking distances are also critical factors. SUVs tend to have longer braking distances due to their size and weight, making it harder for drivers to stop quickly in emergency situations.
Who has the right of way in Texas?
In most cases, pedestrians have the right of way at marked and unmarked crosswalks, which means that drivers are legally obligated to yield to pedestrians who are crossing the road within these designated areas.
According to Texas Transportation Code Title 7, Subtitle C, Chapter 552, when pedestrians have a green signal or a walk sign at intersections, drivers must come to a stop and allow them to safely cross the road.
However, it's important to note that pedestrians also have responsibilities when it comes to obeying traffic signals. If pedestrians encounter a red signal, a "wait" sign, or a "do-not-walk" signal before they enter the road, they are legally required to yield and refrain from crossing the road. But a pedestrian who is already in the road is entitled to complete the crossing.
What are the most common injuries after getting hit by a car?
When a person gets hit by a car, their body undergoes a series of complex and often traumatic events. Upon impact, the body experiences sudden deceleration forces, causing rapid changes in velocity.
As such, being struck by a car can result in a wide range of injuries, and the severity often depends on factors such as the speed of the vehicle, the point of impact, the height of the vehicle (SUVs and pickup trucks are particularly deadly), and the pedestrian's age and overall health.
Here are some of the most common injuries pedestrians may sustain after being hit by a car, ranging from minor to severe:
- Soft Tissue Injuries: These include bruises, sprains, and strains. Soft tissue injuries are often less severe but can still cause significant pain and discomfort.
- Cuts and Abrasions: Pedestrians may suffer cuts and abrasions from contact with the vehicle or being knocked down to the pavement. These injuries can range from minor scrapes to deep lacerations requiring stitches.
- Fractures (Broken Bones): The force of impact in a car vs. pedestrian accident can lead to fractures or breaks in bones, particularly in the arms, legs, and pelvis. These injuries can be painful and may require surgery for proper healing.
- Head Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can occur when a pedestrian's head strikes the car's windshield, hood, or the pavement. TBIs can range from mild concussions to severe and life-altering brain damage.
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI): A pedestrian accident can lead to spinal cord injuries, which can result in paralysis, loss of sensation, and long-term disability, depending on the severity of the injury.
- Internal Injuries: The impact from a car can cause internal injuries, including damage to organs such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys. These injuries may not be immediately apparent but can be life-threatening if left untreated.
- Pelvic Injuries: High-impact accidents can cause pelvic fractures, which can be extremely painful and may require surgery for stabilization.
- Amputations: In severe cases, a pedestrian may suffer limb amputations due to the force of the collision or subsequent complications from their injuries.
- Emotional Trauma: It's important to note that the emotional trauma associated with being hit by a car can be significant. Pedestrians may develop conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety as a result of the accident.
- Death: Unfortunately, many pedestrian accidents are fatal. Fatalities can occur instantly upon impact or as a result of complications from severe injuries.
Keep in mind that some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away. Moreover, shock and adrenaline can mask pain. This is why seeking immediate medical attention after getting hit by a car is critical. A prompt medical evaluation can help identify and address potential issues. Additionally, if the accident was due to a driver's negligence, seeing a doctor can help document the victim’s injuries and serve as potential evidence in a pedestrian accident claim or lawsuit.
How insurance companies respond to pedestrian accident claims
Claims involving pedestrian accidents are complex because insurance companies often use various tactics to reduce or deny the claims made by injured pedestrians. These tactics are aimed at shifting liability away from the driver and reducing the compensation owed to the injured party. Here are some common strategies insurance companies may use:
- Blaming the Pedestrian's Behavior: Insurance companies may argue that the pedestrian was not following traffic laws or acted negligently, such as by jaywalking, crossing against the signal, or being distracted by a mobile device. They might attempt to place a significant portion of the blame on the pedestrian, thereby reducing the driver's liability.
- Disputing the Severity of Injuries: Insurance adjusters and attorneys may downplay the seriousness of the pedestrian's injuries, claiming that they are not as severe as alleged. They may argue that the pedestrian's injuries were pre-existing or unrelated to the accident, which can lead to lower settlement offers.
- Challenging Liability: Insurers might contest liability by arguing that their insured driver was not at fault or that other factors, such as poor road conditions, contributed to the accident. This tactic can delay the claims process and potentially result in a denial of the claim.
- Questioning Visibility: One very common tactic is to question the pedestrian's visibility, especially in cases where the accident occurred at night. Insurance companies may argue that the pedestrian's clothing was too dark, making it difficult for the driver to see them. This can lead to a claim denial or reduced compensation.
- Lowball Settlement Offers: Insurers often try to settle pedestrian accident claims quickly and for as little money as possible. They may present lowball settlement offers in the hopes that the injured pedestrian will accept less than their claim is worth due to financial pressures or lack of legal representation.
- Using Recorded Statements: Insurance adjusters may request recorded statements from the injured pedestrian shortly after the accident. These statements can be used against the pedestrian later, as any inconsistencies or statements that suggest shared fault can be used to diminish the claim's value.
- Delaying Claims Processing: Insurers may use tactics to delay the claims process, such as requesting excessive documentation or conducting lengthy investigations. These delays can put financial strain on injured pedestrians and lead them to accept unfavorable settlements.
- Claiming Comparative Negligence: Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means an accident victim cannot recover compensation for their losses if they are found to be more than 50% at fault. In Texas, if both the pedestrian and the driver are found to share fault in an accident, the injured party's compensation can also be reduced proportionally by their percentage of fault.
To protect their rights and interests, pedestrians injured in accidents should seek experienced legal representation. An attorney can help counter insurance company tactics, find the facts that matter, and build a compelling case for fair and full compensation.
Talk to a Houston, TX pedestrian accident lawyer about your legal options
If you were hit by a car or your loved one died in a pedestrian accident in Houston, it's crucial to seek legal representation to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
Consulting an experienced Houston, TX pedestrian accident attorney is the first step in understanding and pursuing your potential legal options. Contact an attorney in your area today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.