As part of my continuing mission to education people about car insurance, motor vehicle accidents, and the civil litigation system, I recently started doing live video FAQs every Friday. We typically announce the event on Wednesday on our Seattle and Everett Facebook pages, and we seek questions for me to address during the video.
Recently I was contacted by a woman who was hit by a car while she was crossing the street. She wanted to know if I could represent her in a claim for injuries against the driver of the car that hit her. Upon investigation, I learned that the woman had been crossing a busy street mid-block, had passed between two cars that were stopped for traffic, and was hit by another car that was approaching a red light. When I told her that I could not represent her she was shocked. "Don't pedestrians always have the right of way?" she asked. Sadly for her, the answer is no - pedestrians do NOT always have the right of way.
In large cities, like Seattle, it is not unusual for people to walk more than they drive a vehicle. With the city's mass transit system and the close proximity between business and residential areas, pedestrian traffic is significant.
In a recent case, this blog discussed the story of a young girl that was hit by a school bus near her home. While this case is tragic, it is not that unusual. Pedestrians in Washington State are often hit by cars, trucks and other motor vehicles that do not follow the rules of the road. In particular, auto-pedestrian accidents are caused by distracted drivers, drivers that fail to follow traffic laws or drivers that fail to yield to the right of way of pedestrians. For some drivers, these may seem like simple mistakes. But, for a pedestrian, these mistakes can be deadly.
Cars, trucks and other motor vehicles have a lot of safety features that help to keep people safe in case of an accident. These include seat belts, air bags, safety glass and more. These features have been tested and are constantly improved to help give people maximum protection while driving.
Any large city, like Seattle, has a lot of pedestrian traffic. These pedestrians often come in close contact with motor vehicles as they walk the city streets to get to their destinations. All too often, however, car and trucks do not take care to notice pedestrians. In these situations, serious auto-pedestrian accidents can occur. In these accidents, pedestrians are likely to suffer severe injuries.
Cars and trucks have to share the road with pedestrians, especially in a large city like Seattle. People often walk, bike or run to get exercise or even as basic transportation. Sidewalks, crosswalks and other protections have been added to increase pedestrians' safety, but auto-pedestrian accidents still occur -- often when drivers fail to notice pedestrians in and around the street.
Washington streets and highways can be a dangerous place at night, especially for pedestrians. Drivers can be tired, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or distracted. Pedestrians, on the other hand, can be hard to see on dark roads. However, no matter the conditions or time of day, Washington drivers have a duty to be on the lookout for pedestrians in and around the roadways.
Washington residents don't always drive everywhere. Often people enjoy walking from place to place, particularly in the city of Seattle. When people walk, they avoid the costs associated with driving, help the environment and get exercise. As a result, roadways are often designed to safely accommodate both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.