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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerRecently, a man was hit by a pickup truck and killed as he and a friend walked along northbound I-35. According to the friend, they were walking south on the northbound lanes when a pickup truck struck the man walking on the outside, and sped off after the fact. While pedestrians walking along busy I-35 is less common than one might anticipate, this does not mean that both drivers and pedestrians do not need to be well aware of their rights and responsibilities while on the road.

Why Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen?

Pedestrian accidents are a perennial issue in Texas, with its miles of rural roads and higher-than-average speed limits. The most recent available data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) estimates approximately 5,700 crashes involving pedestrians in 2018, with roughly 615 fatalities. This is one of the higher state totals in the country for the last few years, despite several Texas municipalities enacting ordinances trying to regulate speed limits and other plans to fight against reckless driving in the works.

Infrastructure in Texas is also an issue for pedestrians. The think tank SmartGrowth America ranks metropolitan areas by their degree of danger for pedestrians (from drivers and also the lack of infrastructure like sidewalks, curb cuts, and traffic lights), and in 2019, six Texas cities/metro areas ranked in the top 50, with the McAllen/Edinburg/Mission area being deemed the most dangerous (#16), with San Antonio/New Braunfels (#21) and Houston/The Woodlands/Sugarland (#23) not far behind.

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TX injury lawyerA true tragedy happened on February 20, when a 10-year old riding her bicycle fell into traffic, losing her life after being struck by a passing SUV. The accident happened in West Bexar County, in the Valley Ranch area, and while law enforcement does not anticipate filing any charges in the matter, it can be hugely traumatic for both the driver and the family of the deceased person when accidents like this occur. No criminal charges also does not mean that the family of the girl cannot file a civil lawsuit. If this happens to your family, you need to make sure you remain clear-headed as you determine how best to handle this.

Negligence Must Be Present

Despite how devastating they can be, not every accidental death is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you must be able to show that their passing was the result of another person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness or default” - that is, you must establish that there was negligence or recklessness in their actions. If they could not have acted in any other way, or could not have acted any faster to stop the accident, there is no cause of action under Texas law.

In the Valley Ranch accident, for example, law enforcement saw no recklessness or negligence in the driver’s behavior because everything happened so quickly. The driver likely had no time to take evasive action or stop their vehicle - and if it is generally agreed that no reasonable person would have been able to stop or evade the girl on the ground, then it is not possible to call the driver negligent. The accident was horrible, but not necessarily avoidable.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_truck-accident_20191014-234021_1.jpgRecently, a man was struck by an 18-wheeler as he tried to run across Loop 410. While the pedestrian’s injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, he was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center as a precaution, The truck driver did stop at the scene of the accident, though as of this writing no charges are expected. While the pedestrian involved in this accident thankfully escaped serious injury, this kind of accident is not uncommon, and very often, pedestrians involved in accidents like this will be stuck with significant medical bills. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, contacting an experienced attorney can help you in seeking compensation.

Statistics and Causes

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that approximately 5,700 crashes that involved pedestrians happened on Texas roads in 2018, which was roughly a two percent decrease from 2017. Fatalities in those accidents rose just barely - not even one percent - and suspected serious injuries were almost identical. While it cannot be assumed that all of these were pedestrians, it is reasonable to assume that a majority are - after all, drivers and passengers of automobiles have infinitely more protection between them and the road.

There are many different causes of pedestrian accidents, though many are sadly preventable. Certainly, some pedestrians may act recklessly - it is generally not recommended, for example, to try and jaywalk across Loop 410 - but at the same time, drivers are just as capable of acting recklessly. For example, many pedestrian accidents occur because drivers do not slow to a complete stop at crosswalks, or they may not sufficiently check their surroundings when turning, especially with left turns. Liability differs with each case.

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TX wrongful death lawyerOn the night of August 14, a man was trying to cross I-37 N between Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Florida Street when he was struck by a 2012 Kia Optima. Afterward, he was then struck by more vehicles in quick succession and later pronounced dead at the scene. While law enforcement currently do not anticipate charges being filed in the man’s death, it is still possible that his family may choose to file wrongful death charges in civil court. If you have been unfortunate enough to lose a loved one in a traffic accident, this may be an option for you and your family to try and recover some of the expenses incurred.

Establishing Negligence

Everyone passes away eventually, but if you lose a loved one suddenly, it can be devastating. Losing someone due to another person’s recklessness or negligence is something that no one should have to deal with. A wrongful death claim in Texas hinges around establishing that your loved one’s passing would not have occurred but for the negligence of the defendant, and that had they lived, they would have had cause to bring their own lawsuit against the defendant for the injuries they incurred.

For example, if one looks at the I-37 N accident, it can be argued that the man’s family could bring a wrongful death suit against the driver of the Optima because had the Optima not struck him, the man might have lived. Also, had the man survived being struck by the Optima, he would conceivably have been able to sue the driver for his injuries. This does not necessarily mean that the suit would automatically be successful - but the factors would all be present that would allow either the man or his family to sue.

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TX accident attorneyAustin police have recently released more information on a July 14 crash that killed a pedestrian on I-35, in the 300 block of the interstate. A 43-year old man was crossing the street when he was struck by an SUV. He was pronounced dead at the scene, though the driver of the SUV did stop to render aid. If you are unfortunate enough to be struck by a vehicle while crossing a street, be aware that you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and for lost wages.

Texas Metro Areas Are Hazardous To Pedestrians

Statistics show that metropolitan areas are disproportionately hazardous to pedestrians, especially those over the age of 65 - the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 15 percent of all pedestrians injured in 2015 were elderly, as were approximately 20 percent of 2016’s pedestrian fatalities. The think tank Smart Growth America ranks metropolitan areas, giving each a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), and San Antonio-New Braunfels ranks at #21 on the list (second in Texas; the first was McAllen-Edinburg-Mission).

The PDI of a metropolitan area in the Smart Growth study is calculated by using numerous factors, including injury and fatality rates per year, as well as the number of vehicles on the roads on average, to estimate just how hazardous it can be for a pedestrian to walk or cycle in the area. External factors are also noted - for example, poorly designed streets, missing or broken infrastructure like streetlamps and crosswalks, and crime rates. Several Texas cities, San Antonio included, are not safe for pedestrians.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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