Authorities now believe that a deadly pedestrian accident in Westmoreland Estates may have been a suicide.
The wreck happened on Versailles Road near the Parkers Mill Road intersection. According to police and witnesses, a woman laid down in the road for unknown reasons. A car hit her and killed her.
No other details were available.
What Causes Pedestrian Accidents?
Most of these instances aren’t nearly as unusual as the one in the above story. In fact, the opposite is usually true. The simple tragedy of many pedestrian accidents usually allows Lexington personal injury attorneys to obtain maximum compensation for these crash victims.
Failure to maintain a proper lookout causes many pedestrian accidents. Most drivers only react to fast-moving objects, like changing traffic lights and speeding cars. Over-reliance on driver assist technologies, which obviously are not perfected, might play a part as well.
Pre-existing conditions sometimes cause pedestrian accidents as well. People with mobility impairments have a hard time crossing busy streets, even if they cross with the light and in the crosswalk. Furthermore, people with brain injuries often have impaired judgement. They might not correctly assess the speed of an approaching car or the amount of time they need to cross the street.
Speaking of speed, excessive velocity might be the leading factor in pedestrian accidents. Most of these incidents occur outside marked crosswalks and at non-intersections. So, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is often travelling at or near top speed at the moment of impact.
Statistically, at impact speeds less than 25mph, the pedestrian death rate is less than 10 percent. At impact speeds above 55mph, the pedestrian death rate skyrockets to over 90 percent.
Speed increases the risk of a collision and the force in a collision. Fast-moving drivers have less time to react to changing situations than slow-moving drivers. Furthermore, according to Newton’s Second Law of Motion, speed multiplies the force in a collision between two objects.
As mentioned, most pedestrian accidents happen outside marked crosswalks. Although pedestrians do not have the right-of-way in these situations, the driver who caused the crash still could be liable for damages.
Most noncommercial drivers in Kentucky have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents if possible. Striking an almost-stationary pedestrian clearly violates this duty.
Liability attaches if the driver breached the duty of reasonable care. Not all driving lapses are a breach of duty. Distracted driving is a good example. Technically, turning one’s head to speak with a passenger or taking a hand off the wheel to change the radio station is distracted driving. But most Fayette County jurors do not see such behavior as a breach of duty.
Finally, there must be a connection between the tortfeasor’s breach and the victim’s damages. Assume Dick hits Jane as she is crossing the street. At the hospital, a doctor makes a medical mistake which kills Jane. Dick is probably not legally responsible for Jane’s death. However, her family could have a claim for compensation against the negligent doctor.
Damages in a pedestrian accident claim normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Crosswalk pedestrian claims are much more straightforward. Tortfeasors who violate safety laws and cause crashes are often liable for damages as a matter of law. Negligence per se only applies if first responders issue citations to tortfeasors. That does not always happen, even if one driver is clearly at fault. Many emergency responders do not want to get involved in what they see as a civil dispute.
The same damages are available in negligence per se claims. In fact, damages are sometimes higher. Arguably, these tortfeasors intentionally disregarded the health and safety of the pedestrian.
Distracted walking, an offshoot of contributory negligence, is one of the most common insurance company defenses in these claims. According to one study, 60 percent of pedestrians are focused on something other than walking, often a smartphone. In other words, they do not look both ways before they cross the street.
Distracted walking might or might not affect the amount of compensation in a claim. First, the insurance company must convince the judge the pedestrian was distracted. Second, these lawyers must convince jurors of the same thing.
Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the pedestrian was 99 percent responsible for the accident, the tortfeasor is liable for a proportionate share of damages.
The sudden emergency defense often comes up in these claims as well. Unlike distracted walking, sudden emergency excuses negligent conduct if the driver reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency.
Most drivers react reasonably following pedestrian accidents. They pull over and wait for first responders. But a jaywalking pedestrian is not a completely unexpected event. People jaywalk all the time, so drivers should be prepared for such situations. Of course, a pedestrian prone in the road is a different matter. So, in the above case, this unusual defense might apply.
Injured pedestrians are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.