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Metropolitan area struggles to protect pedestrians

Local governments in Seattle and the surrounding area say that pedestrian safety is a top priority, and yet terrible auto-pedestrian accidents continue to happen.

Recently in Covington, in suburban King County, a man was left in critical condition after he was struck by a car as he walked down a dark street where there were no sidewalks available. Police said the 25-year-old driver continued down the road after hitting the pedestrian, later crashing into some construction equipment. Police arrested the driver and he faces charges of DUI and vehicular assault.

The victim, a 54-year-old man, had to be airlifted to an area hospital for treatment of broken bones and severe head trauma.

In 2015, city officials launched a 20-year initiative to make Seattle the most walkable and accessible city in the United States. Under the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan, officials work on ways to make sidewalks more accessible and well-lit. They have worked to put up stop lights and crossing signals, and to limit dangerous turns.

Meanwhile, the population of the Seattle metropolitan area, continues to grow, and the number of people driving, walking and biking continues to climb. The efforts to make walking safer have not kept pace with these increases. The latest implementation plan for the Pedestrian Master Plan notes that 26% of Seattle's blockfaces still have no sidewalks. The figure is even lower in the suburbs.

If a negligent driver injures a pedestrian, the injured may hold the driver liable for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. In the event of a fatal accident, the victim's family may file a wrongful death suit.

These cases can be legally, technically and emotionally difficult, but they can be important ways to create a disincentive toward careless driving among the public. They can also be crucial in helping the injured and their families cope with medical expenses, lost wages and all the other damages that follow an auto-pedestrian accident.

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