Philadelphia Pedestrian Accident Attorney
The roads are a dangerous place for pedestrians. Even when using the designated sidewalks or crosswalks, pedestrians are still at a high risk of getting hit by vehicles.
In fact, pedestrians are considered an at-risk road user group. Because for one, vehicles are much faster than people on foot. So, pedestrians cannot hope to outrun or outmaneuver a vehicle barreling toward them.
Secondly, pedestrians are much harder for drivers to spot on the road than other road users. A speeding driver may not notice a vulnerable pedestrian until it’s too late.
Thirdly, pedestrians have no protection against collisions with motor vehicles. Unlike vehicle occupants, who have seatbelts, airbags, and the vehicle’s shell to keep them safe during a car crash, pedestrians stand little chance against impact with a vehicle’s metal body. Subsequently, many pedestrians involved in road accidents end up sustaining severe injuries, such as bone fractures, spinal injuries, brain damage, and internal bleeding. Fatalities are also common, especially in accidents involving heavy vehicles (trucks, tractor-trailers, buses, etc.).
Pedestrian accidents are often tragic. Unfortunately for the victims, getting justice can be difficult. Pedestrian accident cases have several moving parts and place the burden of proof on the victim. This article sheds light on the state of pedestrian accidents in Philadelphia. More importantly, we’ll show you how a Philadelphia pedestrian accident lawyer can help you win cases, even with the odds stacked against you.
How Often Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen in Philadelphia?
MoneyGeek estimates that over 70,000 pedestrians are hit by vehicles every year when walking on US roads. About 9% of all pedestrians involved in car accidents die, while 21.8% are severely injured.
Pedestrian fatalities have risen considerably across the country over the last decade. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that an estimated 7,508 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2022 alone. This is the highest number of reported pedestrian deaths since 1981. And since 2010, pedestrian deaths have surged an alarming 77%, compared to a 25% increase in all other traffic-related fatalities.
And it’s the same story in Philly and the larger Pennsylvania state. An article published in PhillyVoice paints a grim picture of traffic recklessness and the plight of pedestrians on Philadelphia’s roads. On average, 100 Philadelphians die yearly in traffic crashes, with pedestrians making up around 30% – 40% of those fatalities. And between 2020 and 2021, pedestrian fatalities on Philly roads rose by about 25%.
The general consensus is that drivers are becoming increasingly reckless and aggressive on the roads, and pedestrians are bearing the brunt for it. On top of that, the Philadelphia Police Department is under-equipped and underpowered to enforce traffic laws and bring offenders to justice. Of the 58,000 car crashes reported to the PPD, only 2,300 cases (about 4%) are investigated.
The Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems (OTIS) recently published a report with the following insights into the “Where,” “When,” “How,” and “Who” of pedestrian crashes and fatalities in the city:
- Most pedestrian accidents occur on urban arterials & auto-oriented commercial/industrial corridors, mainly at intersections, near transit points, and mid-block crossings.
- Over half of all fatal pedestrian crashes happen at night, between 7 PM – 6 AM.
- Most pedestrians are hit by turning vehicles, hit-and-run drivers cause about a quarter of pedestrian fatalities, and 10% of fatal pedestrian crashes are speed-related.
- Older Philadelphians (over 50) are more prone to pedestrian accidents, making up almost half of all pedestrians killed.
How Do These Types of Accidents Happen?
To understand why pedestrian accidents and fatalities are so common, let’s look at the leading causes of these types of accidents:
Drivers Failing to Yield at Crosswalks, Intersections, and Mid-block Crossing
Pedestrians have the right of way at pedestrian crossing whenever the traffic controller signals for pedestrians to cross the road. For crossings that don’t have traffic lights or call buttons, the driver is expected to slow down when approaching the crossing and give way to any crossing pedestrians. Clearly, this isn’t always the case, given that most pedestrian collisions happen at crossings and intersections.
Note that a driver’s failure to yield at a pedestrian crossing is an actionable traffic offense on which you can base a personal injury case.
Drivers Ignoring Traffic Rules and Signage
Recklessness on the drivers’ part is a common cause of pedestrian accidents. If a driver ignores traffic rules, signals, and signs, there’s a good chance they might not slow down or stop for pedestrians on time. Dismissing traffic directions, whether intentionally or unintentionally, counts as negligence.
Poor Visibility on The Road
As we mentioned before, pedestrians are harder for drivers to spot than other road users, especially when it’s foggy, dark, or rainy. For instance, people on the road appear as faint silhouettes against the glare of oncoming headlights when driving at night. And unlike cyclists and riders, who often wear reflective clothing, pedestrians are not expected to dress for the road.
Alcohol does not mix well with any form of road use. Intoxication among drivers and pedestrians sometimes leads to fatalities on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 20% of fatal pedestrian crashes in 2021 involved drunk drivers. Meanwhile, 31% of the pedestrians killed on US roads had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.
Like drivers and other road users, pedestrians can also get distracted. It’s quite common to see pedestrians texting, making calls, or wearing earphones when crossing the road or walking on sidewalks. A preoccupied or inattentive pedestrian can easily trend into the path of oncoming traffic. Also, a pedestrian can be too distracted to pick up on imminent collision warnings such as honking horns and screeching tires.
Children Crossing the Streets Unattended
Some pedestrian accidents involve innocent children who don’t know any better than crossing busy roads alone. Referencing back to NHTSA data, an estimated 5,106 children, 14 years and younger, were injured in 2021 when using the road as pedestrians.
It can be difficult to pin blame in pedestrian accidents involving children — it could be the fault of a negligent parent/guardian, driver, crossing guard, or school administration.
Improper Use of Roads, Pedestrian Sidewalks, and Crossings
Drivers are not solely to blame for negligence or poor road use in pedestrian crashes. For instance, it can be difficult for a driver to avoid hitting a pedestrian who suddenly darts onto the road.
Also, some pedestrians don’t know how to use crossings properly or safely. Using a designated pedestrian crossing or sidewalk does not automatically guarantee safety. Safe road use calls for some due diligence from the pedestrian too.
Top 10 Dangerous Corridors for Philadelphia Pedestrians
Philly streets are dangerous for pedestrians, but some roads are more dangerous than others. The table below shows a detailed list of the top 10 most dangerous corridors for Philadelphia pedestrians, based on PennDOT pedestrian crash data gathered between 2014 – 2018:
What Are Pennsylvania’s Crosswalk Laws?
When seeking justice after a pedestrian accident, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding such situations. The laws governing the rights, responsibilities, duty of care, and limitations of pedestrians in Pennsylvania are described in Title 75, Chapter 35 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.
Here’s a summary of what the law says about the use of sidewalks and crosswalks:
- Section 3541: Pedestrians must obey traffic control authorities (police officers, crossing guards, traffic wardens, etc.), devices, and signals.
- Section 3542: Where traffic control signals are unavailable or inoperable, pedestrians have the right to cross the road within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Also, pedestrians shouldn’t suddenly leap onto the road and into the path of an oncoming vehicle that’s close enough to constitute a hazard.
- Section 3543: Pedestrians crossing any roads at unmarked points must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway. And pedestrians are not allowed to cross an intersection diagonally unless instructed to do so by traffic control authorities.
- Section 3544: Pedestrians must use the available sidewalks. If no sidewalks are available, pedestrians can walk on the hard shoulder or outside the road. If neither is available, pedestrians are expected to walk on the leftmost side of the roadway.
- Section 3545: Hitchhiking is prohibited.
- Section 3548: Pedestrians must yield to emergency vehicles.
Comparative Negligence and Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents
What does it mean to be at fault in a pedestrian accident?
Fault in road accidents and personal injury cases refers mainly to negligence. In legal settings, negligence is described as a breach of the duty of care. Every road user owes a duty of care toward all other road users by observing traffic rules and exercising due caution on the road.
It’s important to note that negligence works both ways.
The driver or the pedestrian can be solely responsible for a pedestrian crash. For instance, an intoxicated, aggressive, speeding, or distracted driver can be held liable for an accident involving pedestrians. Similarly, a pedestrian who pays no attention to the road, jaywalks, or refuses to use designated pedestrian zones can very well cause a road accident.
Determining fault in pedestrian accidents gets even more complicated. Pennsylvania tort law follows the comparative negligence rule, which states that both the defendant and the plaintiff are assigned a percentage of fault in cases where they share the blame.
Claimants or plaintiffs in personal injury cases are compensated depending on their percentage of fault in the accident. With the comparative negligence rule, you can only recover damages if you are less than 51% at fault. If the court, for example, decides you are 20% to blame for the accident, you should ideally get at least 80% of the total compensation you’re entitled to.
However, determining shared blame and rightful compensation can be tricky. It’s a game of push and pull between you and the defendant. That’s where the wits and negotiation power of an experienced pedestrian accident attorney come in handy. A good Philadelphia pedestrian accident lawyer will prove and defend your involvement in a pedestrian crash to ensure you get the highest compensation possible.
What to Do if You Are Hit by a Car in Philadelphia
Whatever you do in the first few moments after getting hit by a vehicle can greatly impact your well-being and personal injury case.
First things first, seek medical attention. Remember, a majority of pedestrians involved in crashes sustain bodily injuries. You may not feel like you’ve been hurt or injured at first, but that might be because of the adrenalin rush from the experience masking the pain. Plus, some injuries, such as brain trauma and internal bleeding, do not become apparent right away. So, call 911 and get your injuries checked and treated as soon as possible.
Also, seeking prompt medical treatment helps to directly relate your injuries to the accident.
Next, collect as much information as you can about the accident. Note the driver’s details (name, contacts, insurance info, etc.), the vehicle’s registration number, and the exact time and location of the accident. Such information could be vital for building a solid case.
If no one has called the police at this point, do it yourself. Every accident on Philly roads should be reported to the PPD. The police will come to the scene and record an unbiased account of the accident.
Lastly, call your Philadelphia pedestrian accident lawyer. Your lawyer and their associates should be the only people you discuss the accident with. The driver or their insurer may try to reach you in an attempt to find information that might weaken your case. Do not share any personal or medical information with the defendant’s party. Speak only to your lawyer for guidance on how to handle the matter.
Philadelphia is by far the largest city in Pennsylvania. The city encompasses 142.71 square miles and has a population of 1.5 million. In addition to being the home of the Eagles, Philly is also famous for its rich history and the significant role it played in the country’s early years.
The city center and downtown Philly are packed-full of exciting activities and places you can visit on foot.
You can take a free guided walking tour of the city. While touring Philly, explore “America’s Most Historic Square Mile” with stopovers at the Independence Mall, the Independence National Historical Park, and the famous Independence Hall, where the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution were debated and adopted by the Founding Fathers in 1776 and 1787.
If you’re an art lover, you’ll enjoy marveling at the largest work created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar on display at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Located at 1020 South Street, between 10th and 11th Streets, The Magical Gardens feature mesmerizing indoor and outdoor galleries of folk and mosaic art. And don’t forget to check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum is just an hour’s walk from the Magic Gardens along a scenic route on Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.
Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys
Are you looking for a pedestrian accident attorney in Philadelphia? Look no further than WILK Law. Tyler J. Wilk, the founder of WILK Law, is an experienced and highly skilled personal injury lawyer with a knack for justice. The firm specializes in all tort areas, including road accidents, slip and fall, workplace injuries, and more.
WILK Law will fight for you until you get the rightful compensation for wrongful injuries. And we fight to win. Contact us at (855) 946-3678 for a free consultation.