Though fatal crashes still happen far too frequently, the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States has dropped dramatically from a high of more than 50,000 in 1980 to just over 36,000 in 2019. However, while deadly traffic crashes are down overall, fatal pedestrian accidents have risen steadily in the past decade—and the findings of a 2020 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that the prevalence of SUVs on the roads may play a role. These pedestrian accidents are often due to a number of different factors, including inattentive drivers, excessive speed, blind spots around the vehicle, available light, sunlight facing a driver, inattentive or young pedestrians, distracted driving, including the use of a cell phone, eating, conversations with passengers, and intoxicated driving. Too many vehicle verses pedestrian accidents also result in hit and run scenarios. If you are driving, you have a duty to observe and adjust your driving to the conditions of the road, including the presence of pedestrians in the street or on the highway.
Several years ago I handled a tragic large pickup truck v. pedestrian accident where the driver was in the left turn lane, which had a traffic control light which allowed the driver to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic. The pedestrian light was also illuminated at the same time for children to cross the street to meet their rides home. Unfortunately, the driver, in his large pick-up truck could not see the young elementary school age girl and her brother crossing the street. He saw a clearing in the traffic and made his left hand turn. The young girl was struck and killed by the truck as her younger brother just missed getting hit but watched his sister being hit. This family's tragedy is not unique, unfortunately, many pedestrians are struck, injured or killed annually in California and across the Country.
Were you injured—or was someone you love killed—in a California pedestrian crash involving a sport utility vehicle or any other type of vehicle? At the Inland Empire Law Group, our highly skilled personal injury and wrongful death attorneys, paralegals and staff, can help you understand your rights and explore your options for compensation.
SUV Safety Advances Aren't Aimed at Protecting Pedestrians
Research from the 1980s and 1990s showed that, in a crash, SUVs posed a greater risk to the occupants of the other vehicle than a comparably sized car. Thanks to design and safety improvements made in the past two decades, that's no longer the case.
Unfortunately, while changes like lowering the bumpers and other force-absorbing structures on SUVs to better align with those on cars succeeded in making crashes a bit safer for the occupants of other vehicles, they don't provide much benefit to pedestrians in an accident. Steel, and the force of an impact, will always pose a risk to life and health of the pedestrian.
Pedestrian Crash Case Basics
Personal injury law is complex and complicated. Here are a few key points you should know before filing an insurance claim or lawsuit for an SUV pedestrian accident:
- Statute of limitations. California limits how long you have to take legal action after an accident. If the vehicle or responsible party is a private person or company, you have just two years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit, or two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death suit. If the injury victim is a minor, under the age of 18, the time for filing may be extended. However, it is always best to take immediate action while the evidence and witnesses are fresh and available. If a claim exists against a government entity, the time for submitting a claim before filing a lawsuit is significantly shorter, even down to only six months from the If you try to file suit once these deadlines have passed, your case will most likely be dismissed. Missing a statute of limitation deadline is a mistake no one should make.
- Comparative negligence. Worried you may be partly to blame for your pedestrian accident and injuries? The Golden State follows comparative negligence standards, so you may still be able to recover compensation. However, your award may be reduced to reflect your fault.
- Collision or no. The SUV in question didn't actually have to hit you in order for you to collect compensation. You can also recover damages for evasion injuries. The challenge is getting the identity of the vehicle that caused the near miss event.
Potential Damages and What You Have to Prove After a Pedestrian Accident
Depending on the facts of your case and the injuries and losses you sustained, you may be entitled to compensation for a wide range of damages, including:
- All reasonable and necessary related medical expenses (emergency transport and care; hospital stays; surgeries; appointments with specialists; physical therapy; prescriptions; medically necessary travel; cost of future care; etc.)
- Lost wages
- Lost income (if the crash will affect future earning potential)
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring or disfigurement
- And more
If you lost a loved one, family members with legal standing to bring a wrongful death claim (such as the victim's surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, etc.) may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages related to the untimely death.
However, before you can collect compensation, you and your attorney must prove:
- That the defendant owed you a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty
- The breached duty of care resulted in the accident
- You sustained injuries and losses as a result of the pedestrian crash
Contact Our Southern California Personal Injury Attorneys to Request a Consultation
Ready to find out what the knowledgeable and experienced team with the Inland Empire Law Group can do for you? Contact us to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss your case with a member of our accomplished legal team. Don't wait—remember, the law limits how long you have to take legal action.