Being a pedestrian, in certain areas, carries with it a lot of risk. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2020, approximately 55,000 pedestrians were injured in a car accident on a public road.
You always hope you’ll be safe walking, you take necessary precautions and try to watch the road carefully, but car accidents do happen. If you’re ever a pedestrian struck by a car, do you know what to do next?
Georgia crosswalk law
If you’re a frequent walker in Georgia, it’s important, first and foremost, to know the law when it comes to crossing a street.
According to Georgia crosswalk law, it’s illegal for cars to try and pass you when you’re entering into or already in a crosswalk. Even if there’s enough room to sneak on by, Georgia requires all vehicles to stop and wait for you to get across.
In that same vein though, you can’t just walk out into a crosswalk if cars are already driving down the street. They must have time to stop in order to ensure your safety.
If you’re crossing a street where there’s no marked crosswalk though, you, as the pedestrian, must give the vehicles the right of way. You can only cross when the conditions are safe.
When pedestrian-control signs are present, you may only cross when the ‘walk’ sign is visible. Even a flashing ‘don’t walk’ means do not enter the roadway, do not start crossing. Cars must yield to these signs as well, so even if they can legally turn right, if the ‘walk’ sign is up, you have the right of way.
If you’re in a crosswalk accident
Pedestrian crosswalk accidents are often severe. It’s a car versus a person, so depending on speed and a few other factors, you could face serious injury and costly medical bills. What’s even worse, many drivers are quick to blame the pedestrian regardless. They may not be familiar with Georgia law, or may simply assume you were walking where you weren’t supposed to be.
But, since you know Georgia pedestrian law, and know you entered the crosswalk legally, even if you’re unable to assert yourself at the scene due to injuries, you can address the issue later with the support of a pedestrian accident law firm.
What’s most important, after a pedestrian is hit by a car is to seek immediate medical attention. If you’re able to gather contact information, driver’s license number, and vehicle information from the driver, that’s helpful to do at the scene, but if it’s not possible, try and get contact information from a witness who can provide you with evidence of the accident afterward.
Police should also arrive on the scene and speak with you as they evaluate the accident. Since there’s often a natural bias against pedestrians, make sure you advocate for yourself immediately, sharing what you can for the official police report.
Maintain thorough records of all medical treatment you received in related to your injuries as well as whether they caused you to miss work and lose income.
When you’re able, contact a pedestrian accident law firm to get working on your case. You only have two years after an accident to file a lawsuit, and a pedestrian accident lawyer can advise you on all elements related to your legal case, even if it means negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf.
Keeping yourself safe as a pedestrian
While a lot of the pressure to avoid having a pedestrian get hit by a car falls on the driver, you also need to take a proactive approach to your own pedestrian safety. To start, you can avoid walking at night when collisions are more likely to happen. You can also ensure the majority of your road crossings are in marked intersections.
Cross the street without distraction
Although you hope that those driving cars are really paying attention, it’s not unheard of for their minds to wander while stopped. This puts you at risk if you’re walking through a crosswalk even with the right of way.
To maintain pedestrian safety, each time you cross, eliminate any and all distraction.
- Put cell phones away; no texting when walking
- Remove headphones, or turn down the volume, so you can hear what’s going on around you
- Don’t forget to look up before your cross, checking for pedestrian signs and looking both ways for cars
- If possible, as you cross, make eye contact with the drivers closest to you so you know they see you.
Crossing without distraction is even more essential when you’re walking through an urban area of town. A pedestrian being struck by a car is often more likely within a highly-walkable city than in the suburbs.
What about walking through other public places?
Pedestrian safety through crosswalks is always important, but what about in other instances when you’re at risk of being a walker getting hit by a car? Parking lots rank high on the list since often drivers are distracted with safely pulling into or backing out of a space. Parking lots are also confusing since there’s often not clearly marked walk areas.
What’s important to know is that parking lot accident laws say pedestrians almost always have the right of way in parking lots. This means that most of the time drivers have to yield, or even move out of the way, for pedestrians when in a parking lot.
Drivers are at fault if they hit a pedestrian in a parking lot accident for a number of reasons, including failing to see you as they’re backing up. They’ll also be assigned fault if they’re driving distracted, even at slow parking lot speeds. Driving under the influence or in an erratic way that ignores traffic patterns also puts them at risk for liability.
Thanks to all of these potential situations where a driver may not see you, you still need to remain vigilant in a parking lot. There’s always a chance that you not paying attention could lead to a parking lot accident as well. You should pay attention to any signage directing pedestrians and try to stay out of the center of the rows in a parking lot. It’s also a good idea to look both ways when crossing through a parking lot and walk slowly to keep an eye out for cars backing up.
Finding the right pedestrian accident law firm
Pedestrian safety is always important, but you can only do so much to keep yourself safe. Accidents will happen. Should you find yourself involved in a pedestrian-car accident, and need a dedicated and reliable personal injury lawyer to advise you, contact Nicholson, Silverbach & Watson. Our team of pedestrian accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve. Our individualized approach allows us to fight for you while you concentrate on your recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.