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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 7,000 pedestrian accident fatalities nationwide in 2020. Furthermore, nearly 104,000 people visited emergency rooms for non-fatal pedestrian accident injuries.
Although most pedestrian accidents result in non-fatal injuries, that does not mean that these injuries are not devastating and costly in other ways. Being injured in an accident of any kind can result in huge medical bills, a substantial loss of income, and tremendous pain and suffering.
The good news is that if you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident in Missouri, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Miller & Hine law firm today at (314) 413-2053 to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis pedestrian accident lawyer about your case. We can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of St. Louis Pedestrian Accidents
Like most motor vehicle accidents, a pedestrian accident can result from negligence. In some cases, a driver was not obeying the rules and regulations of the road. For example, the driver may have failed to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Other causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted drivers
- Driving under the influence
- Poor visibility
- Failing to signal a turn
In some instances, the city or county may be the liable party, for example, in pedestrian accidents caused by:
- Lack of reflectors on crosswalks
- Faulty signal lights at intersections
- Poor street lighting
In other instances, vehicle manufacturers may be the liable party, such as when faulty brakes on a vehicle cause a collision with a pedestrian.
What Responsibilities Do Drivers and Pedestrians Have in Missouri?
Both drivers and pedestrians have responsibilities, and in Missouri, the laws lay out precisely what is expected of both. Generally speaking, drivers must always stop at crosswalks, corners, and other areas marked for pedestrians. They must also stop and look both ways for pedestrians before making turns.
Pedestrians are responsible for looking both ways before crossing the street, using designated crosswalks, and staying out of the road until a crosswalk light indicates that it is safe for them to cross the street.
Understanding Duty of Care
“Duty of Care” is a legal term used to explain and prove negligence that directly led to an accident, such as a pedestrian accident. All drivers have a duty of care toward others driving, cycling, or walking in traffic areas and on roadways. This means they are expected to understand that obeying traffic laws, speed limits, and road rules help to protect the lives of others around them including other drivers and pedestrians. When a driver breaches this duty of care by not following traffic laws, such as not yielding to pedestrians, and an accident is a direct result, they are at fault in the accident and liable.
Pedestrians also have a duty of care in direct proportion to the danger of the situation. Some responsibilities of pedestrians to keep themselves and others safe include the following:
- Not disrupting the flow of traffic
- Not stepping out into traffic or in front of a vehicle
- Using crosswalks to cross the street
- Crossing only during “walk” signals at intersections
- Following all traffic signals
- Not walking on the roadway when a sidewalk is present
Because pedestrians are much more vulnerable to injuries, they have a duty of care to take all reasonable actions to keep themselves safe just as drivers have a duty of care to be watchful of vulnerable pedestrians and follow all traffic laws intended to protect them.
Drivers have an extra duty of care when driving near parks, playgrounds bus stops, schools, or other areas trafficked by children. Not only are children smaller and more difficult to see, but they may not be cognizant of traffic laws and have impulsive, unpredictable behaviors making them much more susceptible to pedestrian accidents than adults.
What if I am Partly at Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?
Missouri is a pure comparative fault state which means an injured pedestrian may still gain compensation even if they were partly at fault in an accident. For instance, if they were walking on the roadway instead of a sidewalk but were in a well-lighted area and hit by a car while the driver was exceeding the speed limit, the amount of compensation they’re awarded is reduced by the percentage they’re determined to be at fault for a pedestrian accident.
Settling a Pedestrian Accident Claim in Missouri
Most pedestrian accident claims are settled through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance, typically by an out-of-court settlement. Missouri requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance to ensure that accident victims can be adequately compensated for their damages. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can assist you with gathering the evidence needed to obtain a settlement for you and your family, which will include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages and income
- Future lost wages for ongoing medical treatment
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Other damages related to the accident
There are two ways to recover damages after a pedestrian accident. With the help of an accident attorney experienced in pedestrian accident claims you can:
- File a claim against the at-fault person’s insurance company
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver
Both require proving that the defendant owed the injured person a duty of care, that they breached that duty of care, that the breach directly led to the accident, and that the accident caused physical, financial, and emotional harm to the plaintiff/and or their family.
What to Do After a St. Louis Pedestrian Accident
Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to injuries. After an accident, it’s entirely possible that a victim is too terribly injured to take any steps toward protecting themselves physically or financially. However, as an accident victim, if your remain conscious, alert, and able to move, you can protect your physical and financial health in the following ways after a pedestrian accident:
- Move to a safe location out of traffic
- Call 911 and wait for medical help to arrive
- Use your phone to gather evidence: snap photos of the scene, including any involved vehicle and other relevant factors such as crosswalks, traffic signals, and intersections
- Collect the contact information of involved drivers and any eyewitnesses to the accident
- Allow paramedics to transport you to a hospital or seek medical attention as soon as possible
- Tell the doctor about all of your injuries and symptoms and ask for detailed notes about your injuries, suggested treatments, and your prognosis
- Get a copy of the police report
- Call a St. Louis pedestrian accident attorney to discuss your case before talking to insurance carriers
It can be difficult to keep a cool head after the shock of a painful pedestrian injury, but by taking these steps in the chaotic aftermath of an accident you can maximize your chance of gaining financial compensation for your injuries so you can focus on your recovery and moving forward.
Statute of Limitations in Pedestrian Accidents in Missouri
Each state sets a limit on the amount of time an accident victim has in which to file a claim. This limit serves to ensure that cases are brought to court while the evidence is still available and eyewitness testimony is fresh. These statutes of limitations also protect defendants from the ongoing looming threat of lawsuits. Missouri’s statute of limitations is a generous 5 years from the date of the accident for pedestrian accident claims. One exception is for underage accident victims. For those under 18 at the time of their accident, the 5-year statute of limitations begins on their 18th birthday.
What if My Loved One Was Struck and Killed in a Pedestrian Accident in St. Louis?
Since a pedestrian is largely unprotected from the impact of an automobile weighing several thousand pounds, it should come as no surprise that many pedestrian accidents result in serious injuries or even fatalities. If your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident, your family may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver, which among other things, will include compensation for:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages, income, and benefits your loved one would have earned had they lived
- Loss of your loved one’s support, consortium, and companionship
Just as you may need the help of a skilled pedestrian accident attorney to prove your case in a non-fatal accident, you will likely need an experienced attorney’s help to establish that the at-fault driver is liable to compensate you and your family for the death of your loved one.
Punitive Damages in St. Louis Missouri Pedestrian Accident Claims
In some cases, a pedestrian accident victim may make a claim for punitive damages in Missouri. Missouri law allows this type of accident victim to ask for leave from the court to ask for a punitive damage award in lawsuits only in cases of a defendant who acted with malice or showed egregious disregard for human life in their actions that led to striking a pedestrian.
Unlike economic and non-economic damages in compensation claims, punitive damages are not meant as a means of compensating a victim, but rather a financial form of punishment for an offender. Punitive damages also discourage a repeat of egregious behavior that showed a flagrant disregard for human life. This type of claim requires very convincing evidence of intentionally harmful actions that resulted in severe pedestrian accident injuries.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a pedestrian accident in St Louis, contact Miller & Hine at (314) 413-2053, or visit our contact page to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. We will help get you through this challenging time, explain your various legal options, and help answer any questions you may have.
Our law firm handles pedestrian accidents and other personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay us no fee unless we recover compensation on your behalf.