Did Driver Negligence Cause Your Pedestrian Injury?
North Carolina Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Explains Compensation Options
Pedestrian accidents are nearly always serious or fatal due to the enormous size, weight and speed of a vehicle as compared to a person. The force of a car, motorcycle or truck hitting an unprotected pedestrian can result in catastrophic personal injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Severe concussions
- Contusions and broken bones
- Severe lacerations
- Wrongful death
If you or a loved one sustained any of these injuries as a result of driver negligence, then you may be able to collect compensation for your medical bills and other damages. Having a North Carolina pedestrian accident lawyer on your side can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve from a car insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit. At Riddle & Brantley, our attorneys have over 160 years of combined legal experience. In the past, we have obtained many successful verdicts and settlements for pedestrian injury victims across the state. In one such case, we obtained a settlement of $700,000 for two students who were hit by a car while using a crosswalk outside their school.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
According to North Carolina law, motorists owe certain duties of reasonable care to pedestrians. Most pedestrian accidents result when negligent drivers ignore or overlook these rules of the road. A motorist’s duty includes:
- At an intersection with pedestrian control signals, the operator of any vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the road when the signal indicates “Walk”. The pedestrian loses the right of way when the signal says “Don’t Walk”. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-172.
- The operator of a vehicle must yield the right of way to the pedestrian if the pedestrian is crossing the roadway within a MARKED crosswalk. This same rule applies to an UNMARKED crosswalk, if that unmarked crosswalk is at an intersection. An unmarked crossing of this kind requires an existing sidewalk. Then, the pedestrian must cross within the bounds of the sidewalk as if it continues across the intersection. This rule means that the operator must slow down or even stop if necessary to avoid hitting the pedestrian. N.C. Gen .Stat. § 20-173 and 20-155.
Additionally, drivers should always double check for pedestrians whenever turning across a sidewalk. Vehicles pulling into or out of a parking lot or even backing out of a driveway can be serious hazards to pedestrians when drivers neglect checking to ensure their way is clear. When motorists ignore these rules, pedestrians may sustain serious personal injuries when crossing the road.
Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way on the Road?
Although driver negligence is the cause of most pedestrian accidents, you can take certain steps to minimize your risk of injury when walking or running. For example, pedestrians do not always have the right of way, even in crosswalks. The rules of the road in North Carolina provide that:
- Pedestrians shall not cross a roadway, except in a marked crosswalk.
- If the signal at a crosswalk reads “Don’t Walk”, pedestrians shall yield the right of way.
- When crossing a road at any point other than within an marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, pedestrians shall yield the right of way.
- When crossing the actual road where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pass is available, pedestrians shall yield the right of way.
- Pedestrians shall not walk along and upon an adjacent roadway where sidewalks are available.
- When walking along a road or highway without a sidewalk, pedestrians shall walk only on the extreme left hand side. Pedestrians must also face the traffic which is approaching from the opposite direction. N.C. Gen .Stat. § 20-174.
Is a Motorist Always Liable for Pedestrian Accidents?
Regardless of the rules applying to pedestrians, there is an UMBRELLA duty owed by motorists:
Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-174
The rule even goes on to provide special language regarding children. The law states, the operator “shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child upon a roadway”. This language alone allows us to persuade the insurance company, judge or jury that the operator of the vehicle failed to exercise proper reasonable care when approaching a child near, in or adjacent to the road. The jury instructions also state that the “operator of the vehicle should recognize that children have less discretion than adults and may act in obedience to childish impulses”. N.C.P.I Civil 221.80
This means drivers can and should slow down or stop to protect pedestrians, even those not at a designated crosswalk. This one rule allows us to argue that motorists could avoid pedestrian accidents by exercising reasonable care.
Partner Gene Riddle handled a case involving a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a snow plow. The driver claimed that he did not even know that he had hit the young man and there were no witnesses. However, through an intensive investigation, Gene proved that a snow plow was on that part of the road and that the impact points to the body were consistent with the blade of a snow plow. He successfully concluded this matter for the family despite the fact that the victim was walking in the wrong direction on the side of the road.
Are Pedestrian Accidents Common Around School Bus Stops?
Pedestrian accidents are a particular danger around school buses and bus stops when motorists ignore traffic laws. When a school bus displays its stop sign and stops to receive or discharge passengers, then the operators of other vehicles on the road must come to a full stop. This includes drivers behind the bus as well as those driving in opposite lanes. However, this rule does not apply to oncoming traffic if a median exists between lanes. Cars behind the bus may not try to pass the school bus. All vehicles must remain stationary until the stop sign is withdrawn and the bus has started to move onward. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-217.
It is important that all drivers follow the rules regarding bus stops. Additionally, even if all the students have been let off the bus and it has moved on, drivers should recognize that children are near the roadway. As a result, they should exercise proper reasonable care under those circumstances to avoid striking a child. At Riddle & Brantley, our attorneys have handled several pedestrian injury cases involving school bus accidents. If your child suffered serious personal injuries while getting onto or off of a school bus, then we can assist you in determining liability as well as filing and insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit.
Hit by a Negligent Driver? Contact an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
At Riddle & Brantley, our lawyers will work relentlessly to recover the compensation victims of pedestrian accidents deserve. With four office locations in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Kinston, and Jacksonville, North Carolina, our law firm is able to serve injured victims throughout the entire state and nationwide. In addition, we can come to you to discuss the specifics of your accident if you are unable to come to us.
For more information, call us at (800) 525-7111 or complete a free online case evaluation form today. Remember: When Justice Counts®, Count on Us.