Savannah is a VERY pedestrian-friendly city. Millions of people visit Savannah each year for its history, its parks, and its cobblestone roads. The historic districts include the Savannah Historic District, the similarly named but different Savannah Victorian Historic District, the Cuyler–Brownsville District, Pin Point Historic District, Ardsley Park–Chatham Crescent Historic District, and the Thomas Square Historic District are just some of the city’s attractions. There are more than 100 distinct neighborhoods.
When you add in the year-round warm climate and the Southernly leisurely pace, it’s no wonder that many residents and tourists love walking across intersections, down different paths, through parks, and across the city. Unfortunately, walking comes with risks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6,500 pedestrians were killed nationwide while walking and nearly 55,000 pedestrians were injured. Generally, children and seniors are more likely to suffer pedestrian accidents than other age groups.
Why do pedestrian accidents happen in Savannah?
There is no excuse for a car, truck, or another vehicle to strike a pedestrian. All drivers know when and where to expect pedestrians walking. Every driver understands that one of the first rules of driving is “yield to pedestrians.” When any vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the consequences are likely to be deadly or catastrophic.
Most pedestrian accidents occur for the following reasons:
- A driver failed to yield to a passenger who was crossing a street at an intersection;
- A driver was speeding, ran through a stop sign, or failed to follow any of Georgia’s traffic laws;
- Driver distraction, such as talking on a smartphone or texting instead of looking at the road ahead;
- A driver was intoxicated;
- A driver was driving too fast in a parking lot;
- Poor road designs;
- Poor visibility; and
- Bad weather conditions.
Pedestrians may be partially responsible (contributory negligence) for the accident. Pedestrians may be contributorily negligent if they jaywalk, fail to look before crossing, walk in a roadway, and do other negligent actions. In Georgia, an award for damages is generally reduced by the percentage amount of fault of the plaintiff, provided that percentage is less than 50 percent. If a pedestrian is 50% or more responsible for an accident, the pedestrian generally cannot recover any damages. One caveat is that if the pedestrian is a minor, they may be able to recover even if they caused the accident, but this is fact and case specific, which is why it is important to speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney if you or a loved one has been injured.
Steps drivers can take to minimize the risk of striking a pedestrian
According to the NHTSA, some of the steps drivers should take to avoid hitting a pedestrian include:
- Be on the watch for pedestrians at all times;
- Be extra careful at night, in bad weather, and at other times when visibility is reduced;
- Be ready to stop before entering a crosswalk;
- Yield to pedestrians who are in a crosswalk;
- Do not pass vehicles at a crosswalk;
- Obey the speed limit;
- Be very cautious in residential neighborhoods and school zones; and
- Be cautious when backing out of a driveway or anywhere pedestrians, especially children, may be present.
Steps pedestrians can take to minimize the risk of being struck by a vehicle
Walking is a healthy form of exercise, but both drivers and pedestrians need to use caution. A few safety precautions pedestrians should take, according to the NHTSA, include:
- Walk on sidewalks when possible;
- Obey the traffic signals and signs;
- “If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible”;
- Cross at intersections/crosswalks, and look for traffic in all directions;
- When you need to cross where no intersection/crosswalk is available, find an area that is well-lit – and “wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross”; and
- Look for cars leaving driveways and in parking lots.
Compensation for pedestrian accident victims
In most pedestrian accidents, the driver is responsible for the accident. Other defendants may also be liable for the accident including an employer, a manufacturer of a defective vehicle part, or other individuals and businesses. In some rare cases, such as poor road design, the government may also bear some responsibility.
Pedestrians who are injured may seek compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, and other damages – current and future. If a loved one is killed in a pedestrian accident, our Savannah personal injury lawyers can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the family.
While your case is pending, your own health insurance may pay any medical bills you have incurred as a result of the accident. If you have a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, the PIP carrier may pay some medical bills and some lost income. If the responsible defendants do not have insurance, or do not have enough coverage to pay your full claim, you may be able to file a claim with your uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance carrier if you have this coverage.
At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our Savannah pedestrian accident lawyers work with investigators, the police, and everyone involved to show how your pedestrian accident happened and who is responsible. We work with your doctors to fully understand the severity and scope of your injuries to make sure you get the medical treatment you need. To discuss your rights after an accident in Georgia, call us or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Steve Lowry is an award-winning litigator who has secured record-setting jury verdicts on behalf of his clients. A passionate advocate for individuals who have been harmed by the actions of others, Steve has won numerous top 10 verdicts in Georgia.
Read more about Stephen G. Lowry here.