Pedestrians have the right to cross roadways and walk down sidewalks safely. And unfortunately, when a motorist strikes a pedestrian, injuries are often severe or life-threatening. Under Maine law, injured pedestrians may be entitled to compensation.
Maine Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrians killed in the United States increased by 19% between 2009 and 2014. From 2014 to 2015, this number increased again by 10%. Pedestrian deaths now account for 15% of total traffic fatalities.
In Maine, there were 16 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, which was slightly higher than in previous years. Nonetheless, Maine still has the 46th lowest pedestrian fatality rate in the country at 0.68 per 100,000 people.
What Are Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
According to the CDC, pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur under the following circumstances:
- Maine state police reported that most of the recent accidents were caused by car drivers who could not see pedestrians out on the road. The lack of visibility combined with people wearing dark clothing after the sun goes down has led to many accidents that might have been avoided.
- If drivers or the pedestrians themselves are under the influence of alcohol. 34% of pedestrian fatalities involved a victim whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was greater than 0.08, and 15% of accidents involved a driver with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
- The risk of pedestrian accidents also increases in urban areas, at night, at non-intersection locations and when vehicles are traveling at higher speeds.
Other causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Drivers failing to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians
- Drivers engaging in negligent or aggressive behavior
- Drivers talking, texting, putting on make-up, shaving, etc. while behind the wheel
- Drivers failing to signal a turn
- Pedestrians crossing between intersections
- Pedestrians walking into the street without looking
- Drivers or pedestrians failing to obey traffic signals
Where Do Pedestrian Accidents Occur?
The answer is: they can happen anywhere. Our friends at the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments compiled the following map of accidents. You can also look at our interactive map of all auto accidents.
Pedestrian Road Safety Issues to Address
The responsibility to maintain safe roads lies with the federal and state governments as well as individual municipalities. Some specific measures they can take include:
- Assess sidewalks for safety: The state of Minnesota recently addressed this problem in the Twin Cities when they addressed their pedestrian accident problem by evaluating all crosswalks for proper speed limits, visibility of the traffic signs, how many lanes pedestrians had to cross and how well the location was lit. This is a great precedent for Lewiston and Auburn to follow.
- Adding bump-outs: Bump-outs provide a sheltered place for pedestrians to wait for the light to change and bump-outs also make pedestrians more visible to motorists. Generally, drivers slow automatically when the lane narrows for the bump-out.
- Encourage law enforcement to monitor law-breaking drivers: At dusk, speeding drivers are particularly dangerous. Traffic officers need to be diligent and to give drivers citations when they break the law in pedestrian areas.
- Keep streets safe: Streets should be free of debris, traffic signals should be in working order, and periodic tests should be conducted to verify that posted speed limits are appropriate.
Protecting Yourself on Lewiston/Auburn Roadways
Pedestrians must always be aware of their surroundings when walking around Lewiston/Auburn. Some of the steps you can take to minimize your risk of being involved in an accident include:
- Be visible to drivers – it can be difficult to see a pedestrian dressed in dark clothing at night or dusk. Carrying a flashlight with you can also increase your visibility.
- Travel safely – whenever possible, you should take advantage of crosswalks. However, just because you are using a crosswalk does not mean a car operator will be able to see you. Allow yourself plenty of time for crossing and if you are uncertain whether an approaching driver is paying attention, try to get the driver’s attention before crossing any roadway.
- Always be aware of surroundings – even if you are not crossing a street, it is possible for an automobile to strike you. Be conscious of the sounds around you and ensure you are in a position to get out of the way should a vehicle jump the curb.
Consequences of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians have very little protection when they are struck by a vehicle. Those victims who do not lose their lives may face devastating injuries. The possible consequences of a pedestrian accident vary considerably based on the specifics of the situation. However, victims may experience:
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Lifelong disability
- Mental and emotional stress
Being struck by a car may mean undergoing surgery, facing weeks of rehabilitation and losing time from work and school. The responsible party may be held financially responsible for the expenses you incur while you are recovering as well as your lost wages.
What To Do After an Accident
Being hit by a car is traumatic and life-altering. In the heat of the moment, you are likely to feel confused and overwhelmed. However, it is important to take the right actions in order to protect yourself and your rights to compensation. If you are struck by a vehicle while walking:
- Do not leave the scene unless you are being transported to the hospital.
- Call the police immediately. If you are unable to do so, ask someone else to call.
- Collect relevant information from the driver of the vehicle, such as his or her name, address and insurance details.
- Talk to any people on the scene who may have witnessed what happened. Ask for their contact information before they leave.
- Take pictures. If you are physically unable to take photos on your own, ask a bystander to take them for you and give you copies.
- Write down everything you remember. In the days and weeks that follow, details may slip away. Taking notes immediately after the accident will ensure that you have the most accurate, detailed account possible.
When to Call a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to compensation if you can show that the driver of the vehicle was at fault. For example, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, breaking traffic laws or driving with distractions, the court may hold that driver liable for your injuries.
If you believe that you may be entitled to compensation, consider contacting a licensed attorney to discuss your case. Depending on the specifics of the situation, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses: Including doctor visits, hospital bills, procedures, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Lost wages: Including wages you have already lost or may lose in the future.
- Pain and suffering: Including physical pain and mental anguish.
If you are suing on behalf of a loved one who was killed in a pedestrian accident, damages may also include reimbursement of funeral and burial costs.
Pedestrian accident claims can be complicated, but Fales & Fales has the knowledge, resources and expertise to help in even the most complicated cases. In addition, we represent all of our personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything unless we win.