In 2012, a total of 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents throughout the United States, federal crash data show. One-third of those deaths occurred in just three states: California, Texas and Florida.
California alone accounted for 13 percent of the nation’s pedestrian fatalities in 2012, with a total of 612 such deaths – more than any other state. At the opposite end of the spectrum was South Dakota, where two pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents that year.
Factors affecting pedestrian accident risks
There are a number of factors that are likely contributors to this discrepancy, including differences in overall population levels in each state as well as the size and number of urban areas. Because California is both more populous and has more large cities than many other states, traffic collisions involving pedestrians are likely to occur here with greater frequency.
While pedestrians of all ages and backgrounds are at risk of being hurt in traffic accidents, certain individuals tend to be more vulnerable than others. Age is a particularly relevant risk factor, as children and older adults tend to be affected in disproportionate numbers when compared with other age groups.
Although pedestrian fatalities involving young children have declined substantially in recent decades, due largely to reduced exposure, pedestrians age 70 and older remain more likely than any other age group to be killed in a crash. This may be because elderly individuals are both more likely to be struck by cars and less likely to survive when such a crash does occur.
Pedestrian accidents may involve liability issues
When a bicyclist or pedestrian is hurt in a crash in California, there are often related legal issues that must be resolved. In some cases, such as those involving drunk driving or extreme recklessness, the driver may face criminal charges in connection to the incident. Whether or not there is a criminal component to the case, however, there is likely to be a question of civil liability.
Civil liability centers on the issue of negligence, which is a legal term that describes a person’s failure to act with reasonable care toward others. Drivers, for instance, owe a duty of care to others on the road, and they may breach this duty in a number of ways, for instance by texting while driving or failing to yield the right of way.
When someone is injured as a result of a driver’s negligence, the injured person and/or that person’s dependents may be entitled to recover monetary compensation for the costs stemming from the injury. The type and amount of compensation vary from case to case, but often include lost wages, medical expenses and rehabilitation costs.
Seek legal advice after a crash
Anyone who has been hurt or lost a loved one as a result of a traffic accident in California is encouraged to speak with a personal injury lawyer about the circumstances of the crash and the legal options that are available.