There are reasons why you need a lawyer if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident. An experienced Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer can help protect your rights, negotiate with insurance companies, and get you the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you know has been injured in a Nevada pedestrian accident, don’t try to handle it yourself.
Pedestrians and Las Vegas
Given the proximity of Las Vegas casinos and entertainment, there are numerous pedestrians walking from place to place. It is common to see Las Vegas residents and visitors strolling down the Strip or walking to restaurants and grocery stores. Pedestrian accidents are common in Las Vegas due to a large number of cars and people walking. In an accident between the two, a person lacks the protection of even the smallest car. Therefore, pedestrian accidents often result in serious injuries or even death.
According to the CDC, more than 7,000 pedestrians were killed on our country’s roads in motor vehicle accidents in 2020. That equates to one death every 75 minutes. In 2020, one out of every six people killed in car accidents was a pedestrian. In addition, there were an estimated 104,000 emergency department visits in 2020 for pedestrians treated for non-fatal crash-related injuries.
It should come as no surprise that Nevada has one of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the country, or that the vast majority of such accidents occur in Clark County. As of May 24, 2022, the number of La Vegas traffic fatalities, year-to-date, had risen to 56. Of those 56 fatalities, 23 were pedestrians – a 35% increase compared to last year.
Common Causes of Las Vegas Pedestrian Accidents
A pedestrian accident can occur in many different ways, but these types tend to be some of the most common:
Turning Vehicle Accidents
Cars making sharp turns can endanger pedestrians attempting to cross the street. When drivers make turns, they are frequently focused on avoiding other vehicles and entering their intended lanes. They may fail to notice a pedestrian who is already on the road. Left turns can be hazardous to both pedestrians and drivers. According to studies, a pedestrian is approximately four times more likely to be hit by a left-turning vehicle at an intersection than by a right-turning vehicle. Left turns are more difficult for drivers, who appear to have more difficulty visualizing pedestrians when looking both ways.
Pedestrians on multi-lane roads are at risk if multiple drivers must stop to allow them to cross. These accidents occur when a car stopped for a pedestrian obstructs other drivers’ view of a crosswalk. When drivers fail to heed a stopped car’s warning or choose to pass them, they may drive through a crosswalk, endangering those using it.
Distracted Driver & Texting Accidents
Drivers must maintain complete attention on the surrounding road at all times. Drivers who are distracted by other things (texting, eating, changing the radio station, etc.) are less likely to notice pedestrians crossing the street or getting in or out of cars, which can put pedestrians in severe danger. A texting pedestrian can also be a major hazard on the road. Texting pedestrians are more likely to cross the street without waiting for the appropriate signal or paying attention to traffic.
These collisions occur when a vehicle backs out of a driveway or parking space. Even though backup cameras are now standard equipment on new cars, many people fail to pay attention to them, while numerous others still drive vehicles without them. If a driver is inattentive while backing up, he or she may hit an unsuspecting pedestrian.
When individuals attempt to board or exit a stopped bus, there are numerous accidents involving pedestrians, especially children. Although it is required by law for drivers to stop for a school bus, many do not heed those warnings. This can increase the likelihood that a child or an adult will be struck by an inattentive driver.
Failing to Use Crosswalks Appropriately or Trapped Pedestrians
Pedestrians generally use crosswalks to get across congested streets. Many such crosswalks are equipped with signs that let pedestrians know when it is safe to cross. Some common causes of pedestrian accidents are not paying attention to these signals or jaywalking in an unmarked crossing. Occasionally, pedestrians with a “Walk” signal enter a crosswalk, but before they can complete their crossing, the signal changes to “Don’t Walk,” leaving the pedestrian trapped in the crosswalk. When the traffic signals change, a driver may proceed through the intersection, not realizing there is still a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
Impaired Drivers and Pedestrians
Impaired drivers and pedestrians are one of the biggest causes of pedestrian accidents. A large percentage of accidents occur due to impaired pedestrians walking without paying attention to traffic and intoxicated drivers failing to notice a pedestrian.
According to the CDC, in 2019, alcohol was ingested by the driver and/or pedestrian in nearly half (46%) of crashes that resulted in pedestrian death. Of these collisions, 13% involved a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter. About one-third (32%) involved a pedestrian with a BAC of at least 0.08 g/dL.
Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accident Claims
When a person walking along the road is hit by a car, he or she can suffer three separate impacts – the initial hit of the car’s bumper, the hood and windshield, and then the road. Pedestrian accidents can result in serious injuries such as:
Broken bones and fractures
Among the most frequent injuries suffered by pedestrians hit by cars, trucks, or other motorized vehicles are broken bones. To repair broken bones, medical professionals may occasionally need to use screws, pins, and steel plates. Bone breaks can sometimes be very serious, including complex fractures, in which the shattered bone pierces the skin. Usually, one or more reconstructive operations are necessary. These wounds are excruciatingly painful and could lead to long-term issues, sometimes even requiring amputation.
Head and traumatic brain injuries
When a pedestrian is involved in an accident, his or her head may strike the road or sidewalk, thereby sustaining catastrophic injuries. Although this head trauma may result in obvious exterior injuries, interior injuries, like concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), are frequently of greater concern. TBIs may result in irreversible brain damage. Depending on the severity and location of a TBI, symptoms may include memory loss, confusion, vision issues, sensitivity to light or sound, concentration difficulties, sleep issues, loss of coordination, anxiety, mood swings, and more.
Back and spinal cord injuries
Back injuries are particularly common in rear-end collisions. A disc herniation, for example, can cause severe back discomfort. A herniated disc may need to be repaired surgically or with continuing therapy. The most severe back trauma can result in spinal cord injuries (SCIs).
The National Spinal Cord Injury Database (NCSID) reports that over the past 40 years, motor vehicle crashes have consistently been the major cause of SCIs, accounting for 40% to 50% of cases reported to the NSCID. Some spinal cord injuries are minor, and when they heal, lost function frequently returns. Because the spinal cord serves as the mechanism for signal transmission between the brain and the body, however, SCIs are known to cause permanent damage leading to various types of paralysis.
Soft tissue injuries
Soft tissue injuries include various conditions such as contusions, lacerations, sprains, strains, tears, and dislocations. While many soft tissue injuries heal quickly with minimal medical assistance, they can prevent victims from engaging in daily activities or working for weeks or even months. Furthermore, they can leave victims with severe pain, scars, and other long-term issues that can affect their emotional well-being.
Damages in Pedestrian Accident Claims
The victim in a Nevada pedestrian accident lawsuit can be awarded two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.
Courts primarily award compensatory damages to a pedestrian accident victim as a way to compensate him or her for economic and non-economic damages incurred as a result of an injury. The types of damages that might be available in a personal injury case in Nevada include:
- Medical and hospital bills, follow-up care, and prescription medication
- Lost income due to the injury
- Disability accommodations for a permanent or long-term injury
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium (impairment of affection and companionship of a spouse)
The average payout for a personal injury claim is difficult to determine. The precise value of an injury claim and the categories of potential damages will vary based on a wide range of factors.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the guilty party for his or her negative behavior by awarding the victim additional monetary compensation. These damages are also intended to discourage the driver from repeating the same negligent behavior in the future. If compensatory damages are $100,000 or more, Nevada law limits the award of punitive damages to three times the amount of those compensatory damages. In cases where compensatory damages are less than $100,000, the jury may award punitive damages of up to $300,000.
These limitations do not apply, however, in cases involving defamation, defective products, bad faith by insurers, or exposure to hazardous materials. In pedestrian hit-and-run accidents, criminal charges may be filed against the driver.
Proving Liability in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
In the aftermath of a Las Vegas pedestrian accident, determining liability requires establishing a case of negligence under Nevada law. An experienced Las Vegas pedestrian accident lawyer will assist you in proving four elements of your claim to establish liability – duty of care, breach, causation, and damages.
Duty of care: You must demonstrate that the other party owed you a duty of care, or that they were expected to act reasonably at all times in order to keep others safe. To operate safely, all drivers, for example, owe a duty of care to those around them.
Breach: You must prove that the other party breached his or her duty of care by doing something that an average or reasonable person would not do in a similar situation, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.
Causation: You must also demonstrate that the other party’s action, or lack thereof, was the cause of the accident. It must be demonstrated that a breach of duty of care directly caused the injury you sustained. It is important to remember that a breach of duty is not always the source of a plaintiff’s injuries.
Damages: Finally, you must demonstrate that you suffered some monetary loss as a result of the breach of duty.
Nevada’s comparative fault law can be used to establish each party’s percentage of fault. You can recover damages if the other party was at least 50 percent at fault for the accident. When you are also partly at fault, but less than 50 percent, you are still entitled to partial compensation. In other circumstances, either the pedestrian or the driver can be held 100% liable for a Nevada pedestrian accident.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me After a Pedestrian Accident?
There are numerous reasons to retain the services of an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer following a pedestrian accident. A lawyer can help you determine who is to blame for your accident and gather evidence revealing your damages. He or she can negotiate with the insurance company and help you decide on a legal strategy.
Perhaps the most important reason why you need a lawyer if you’re involved in a pedestrian accident is, your attorney can advise you on your next steps. All too often, insurance companies will offer you a quick settlement that is far less than the value of your case. Your attorney can determine the amount of compensation for which you may be eligible, advise you on when and how to decline an inadequate settlement offer, and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.