Who is to blame when a pedestrian is injured or killed in an accident with a bicycle, motorcycle, or any other type of motorized vehicle? Who is liable? In two recent Lancaster pedestrian accidents, pedestrians were struck by motor vehicles—one operated by a careless driver and one by an intoxicated driver. Both incidents raised concerns regarding pedestrian/driver liability and drew attention to an ever-growing problem.
Is the driver always accountable for pedestrian incidents? Are pedestrians expected to exercise due care as well? These are some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding accident claims involving pedestrians. The PA accident lawyers at May, Herr & Grosh are talking about the most common scenarios surrounding Lancaster County pedestrian incidents—and how we can all work to prevent them.
Recent Years Mark an Uptick in Lancaster Pedestrian Accidents
According to PennDOT, traffic deaths across the state increased by 9% from 2020 to 2021. During that same period, traffic-related pedestrian deaths rose by 27%, with 44% of those Pennsylvania pedestrian accidents happening while the walker was in a crosswalk.
Compared to the rest of the U.S., these numbers aren’t surprising. Pedestrian deaths have been steadily increasing every year for more than a decade.
The answer to the question “Why?” is up for debate. Pedestrians are more distracted, often interacting with their mobile phones while walking. On average, drivers are more distracted as well. Streets are busier, vehicles are larger—and engineers have been charged with moving a larger number of cars and trucks through cities and along highways, which leaves little consideration for the safety of pedestrians.
You can, however, take precautions—as a pedestrian, motorist, or bicyclist—to keep yourself and others safe from pedestrian accidents that can result in pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and even death.
protect yourself with best pedestrian practices
Pennsylvania law states that drivers operating motorized vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk when the pedestrian has a “walk” signal, if there are no signal lights at the intersection, or when the crosswalk is mid-block or part of a marked trail crossing.
If those conditions are met, does that mean you’re free from liability as a pedestrian? No.
You must exercise care, giving bicyclists and motorists the time and distance to yield when you step into that crosswalk. In other words, if you dart into the path of an oncoming bike or vehicle, even if you’re in the crosswalk and have the right-of-way, you could be liable for any accident.
And, of course, there’s conventional advice for any pedestrian entering a roadway:
- Look left, right, and left before crossing.
- Obey traffic signals.
- Remember that turning cars could hit you even if you have a “walk” signal. Be aware.
- If a crosswalk is available, use it.
- Do not jaywalk or cross mid-block.
- Make eye contact with a driver when crossing in front of their vehicle.
- If walking at night, make yourself more visible with bright or reflective clothing.
- Be mindful if one driver gestures you to cross. Other drivers might not be aware.
Do you have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian in Pennsylvania? Get in touch with our personal injury law firm today.
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Exercise Caution as a Motorist to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents
When operating a bicycle or motor vehicle in Pennsylvania, it’s your responsibility to obey traffic signals, but there’s more. Suppose you’re speeding, driving recklessly, or while intoxicated. In that case, you could still be held liable for a pedestrian’s injury or death, even if that person wasn’t crossing legally or in a crosswalk.
To protect pedestrians and yourself as a motorist, you should:
- Obey the speed limit.
- Never drive while intoxicated.
- Avoid distractions while driving.
- Exercise extreme caution in poor weather conditions or where visibility is limited.
- Always remain stopped behind other vehicles at crosswalks (to give the right-of-way to pedestrians you can’t see).
- Approach every crosswalk cautiously, even if you can’t see a pedestrian using it.
- When making a right turn, check for pedestrians in the opposing street’s crosswalk.
- Be alert for children (and adults) that dart into traffic. Your attention could save a life.
Contact our PA accident lawyers today if you’ve been involved in a car crash or truck accident involving a pedestrian and need legal advice.
What to Do in the Case of a Lancaster Pedestrian Accident
If you find yourself involved in a pedestrian accident, the priority is the health and safety of everyone at the scene. Call 911 immediately. Request an ambulance for anyone who has been injured and request police response along with a police report. Ask any witnesses to wait for the police to arrive so they can give a statement. If they can’t wait, get their contact information.
Do not move anyone who could have back or neck injuries; instead, light flares and direct traffic around the accident scene. Exchange insurance coverage information with any involved motorists.
For the city of Lancaster, pedestrian accidents have been on the rise. No one wants to find themselves in this situation. If you do, know that help is available to you from the legal team at May, Herr & Grosh—PA accident lawyers settling car accident claims to get you the compensation you deserve.
Protect yourself from economic damage resulting from a Lancaster pedestrian accident by reaching out to our office now.