Millions of people rely on their own two feet for transportation instead of a car or bus every day. While these pedestrians and bikers make up a large group of commuters nationwide, they are still the minority and often have to contend with the larger, more formidable vehicle traffic on the roads at every turn.
There are traffic laws in place to ensure that both pedestrians and drivers are safe when they share the same roads, but these laws can only do so much. Each year, almost 80,000 pedestrians and bikers are injured in collisions with trucks, cars and motorcycles, and nearly 5,000 of these injuries prove to be fatal.
Pedestrian accidents are often so devastating because of the sheer impact of a car colliding with another person, who is unprotected by metal and glass. Even a slight tap can be brutal and result in broken bones, sprains, bruises, head trauma or even spinal injuries.
A Driver’s Duty of Care
Drivers have a special responsibility to be aware of their surroundings, paying particular attention to people walking, biking, jogging or moving in any way on or around the roads. Safe driving involves being on guard against sudden obstacles and reacting appropriately to provide the necessary caution in such cases — which could eliminate a large number of accidents. Walkers and bikers have to do their part to keep from causing dangerous situations as well, but drivers have a duty of care every time they get behind the wheel.
In personal injury law, these responsibilities are known as a driver’s “duty of reasonable care.” A duty of reasonable care means that a driver is held to the standards of driving that an average careful driver would have in the same circumstances. A reasonably cautious driver would be aware of his or her surroundings, be in complete control of the vehicle and would drive according to the speed limits and posted signage.
However, a driver also has a responsibility to react. Even if he or she is following all the traffic laws at the time, there is an added charge that the driver should use extreme caution around pedestrians or bikers. For example, if a driver sees a biker swerving on the side of the road or having difficulty controlling the bike, he should slow down even more than the appropriate speed limit to accommodate the potential danger, should the biker fall off or veer into traffic.
Pedestrian’s Duty of Care
Although in most cases, the pedestrian is the injured party in a car-pedestrian collision, a pedestrian can also be at fault for the accident. Walkers, bikers and runners have responsibilities to use precautions and exercise care while sharing the roads with cars — a responsibility that helps keep them safe.
Pedestrians should obey street signs, including walk and don’t walk areas, and always cross the street at the crosswalks. Early-morning and late-night joggers and bikers should wear bright clothing that reflects light to make themselves more visible to drivers who may have poor visibility. While all of these rules may seem like common sense, not following them can create dangerous situations that put pedestrians at risk for injury or death.
Far too often, walkers or bikers who were hit by cars do not come forward because they think they may not have a case. At Levine Law, Jordan Levine represents pedestrians who have been injured in car collisions. To discuss your case, contact a Denver personal injury lawyer today.