What Are the Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

June 3, 2024 | By Mike Hancock
What Are the Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
Pedestrian crossing in front of a car on a busy road can be a dangerous situation, and it highlights the importance of awareness and adherence to traffic rules by both pedestrians and drivers.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents include distracted driving, failing to yield, driver impairment, reckless motorist behavior, and environmental factors, like non-working traffic lights, stop signs, or pedestrian crossing signals.

When a pedestrian collision happens, someone is usually at fault, and it is commonly the driver who hit the pedestrian. However, liability is not always straightforward, and identifying the cause of the collision is necessary in determining who should cover your losses as an injured pedestrian.

You can hire a pedestrian accident attorney to identify at-fault parties and seek fair compensation for you. Do not delay in seeking professional representation and assistance.

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Who Qualifies as a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian walking lane marked with a human icon on an asphalt road surface, representing a transportation symbol for safety background concept.

A pedestrian accident occurs when a motor vehicle hits someone not in a motor vehicle. A pedestrian can be:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Doing their job on or near a roadway
  • On a scooter or other personal vehicle

We generally separate bicyclists from pedestrians, but anyone hit by a motor vehicle has grounds for an insurance claim and possibly a lawsuit.

Why Pedestrian Accidents Happen

Diagnosing the cause of a pedestrian accident is one of the first steps towards getting justice for a victim. As you consider the potential causes of pedestrian accidents, recognize that more than one factor can contribute to a collision.

Some potential reasons for your pedestrian accident include:

Driver Carelessness (or Recklessness)

Attentive drivers often recognize other motorists on their phones, engaging in activity that elicits head shakes and thinking nothing of endangering others. Some forms of driver negligence that may lead to a pedestrian accident include:

  • Speeding
  • Incorrectly determining who has the right of way
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Tailgating 
  • Failing to obey traffic lights, stop signs, and other traffic signals

When motorists engage in high-risk behavior, they minimize their margin for error and increase the risk of an accident. For instance, a tailgating motorist may have to swerve if the vehicle in front of them brakes suddenly, and they may hit a pedestrian.

Laws exist for a reason. Motorists who violate those laws may count pedestrians among their victims.

Driver Impairment

Driving a vehicle is difficult, particularly when the driver is in dense traffic, with many pedestrians, or in other chaotic conditions. A motorist presents an unacceptable risk of danger to themselves and others (including pedestrians) when the driver is:

  • Drunk 
  • Under the influence of a legal or illicit drug
  • Fatigued
  • Emotionally volatile

If a motorist has consumed alcohol or drugs or suspects that they are otherwise unfit to drive, they should err on the side of caution. Driving while impaired may limit one’s ability to see or avoid pedestrians, leading to potentially catastrophic accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving remains a threat whenever you are on or near a roadway despite efforts to stop it. Motorists can be distracted by:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone (even in a hands-free manner)
  • Having a conversation with someone in the vehicle
  • Communicating with others outside the vehicle (perhaps out of anger)
  • Recording video or taking photographs
  • Eating or drinking
  • Reaching for items inside the vehicle
  • Interacting with pets inside the vehicle 

Pedestrians do not occupy a distracted motorist’s peripheral vision like a larger vehicle would. Therefore, pedestrians are arguably at the greatest risk when a motorist engages in distracting behavior.

Confusing or Dangerous Road Conditions

Traffic signals can single-handedly prevent pedestrian accidents, and this includes:

  • Traffic lights
  • Yield signs
  • Crosswalks
  • Pedestrian crossing signals
  • Stop signs

Lighting can also illuminate roadways and sidewalks, reducing the likelihood that a motorist will hit a pedestrian they do not see. If these crash-prevention resources are not present, malfunctioning, or ineffective for any other reason, a municipality may be responsible for resulting accidents.

Motor Vehicle Defects

Motor vehicle defects can cause a vehicle to hit a pedestrian. Brakes, in particular, are a component that can fail and lead to a pedestrian collision. In such cases, a pedestrian accident lawyer must determine if failures by the manufacturer, seller, or owner are responsible for the defect.

The Cost of Pedestrian Accidents

It does not take an expert to recognize the immense risk a pedestrian faces when a motor vehicle strikes them. Bones can break, brains can shake, and other severe injuries can happen when a motorist fails to avoid a pedestrian. More than 67,000 pedestrians reported injuries in a recent year.

Traffic accidents and resulting injuries come at a cost, and your pedestrian accident attorney will determine the exact financial value of:

  • Your medical care: Medical bills can pile up quickly after a pedestrian accident. The cost of any emergency care, imaging, hospital stays, surgeries, and other medical services will be part of your pedestrian accident lawyer’s settlement calculations.
  • Medical equipment: There is a reason disabling injuries increase the cost of an accident victim’s case. You may need to purchase a wheelchair and other costly equipment that helps with the challenges of being disabled. 
  • Lost income and other professional harm: Those injured in pedestrian accidents often lose the ability to work at full capacity, either temporarily or permanently. Such a professional disruption can cause you to lose income, earning power, chances for promotions and bonuses, and benefits. 
  • Your property expenses: Your attorney will calculate the cost of repairing or replacing clothing, jewelry, electronics, and any other property damaged during the traffic accident.
  • Your pain and suffering: As an injured pedestrian, you should expect to receive fair compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical pain, emotional anguish, psychological distress, lost quality of life, and all other pain and suffering resulting from the accident.
  • Any mental health treatment you receive: If you choose to see a counselor, take medication, or seek other treatments for the effects of your accident, your attorney will include the cost of your care in their settlement demands.

Pedestrian accident attorneys have an eye for damages. Your lawyer will speak with you, consult your doctors, and conduct their investigation to identify every harm you suffered from the pedestrian accident.

Recoverable Damages in a Fatal Pedestrian Accident Case

Children on a zebra crossing at night, creating a dangerous situation with a car approaching.

The number of pedestrian deaths has been on upward trajectory over the past 15 years, perhaps as the population increases rapidly and roadways become increasingly chaotic. Pedestrian accident attorneys serve the survivors affected by fatal pedestrian collisions and often seek compensation for:

  • Funeral and burial costs (or cremation costs)
  • Loss of the decedent’s financial support
  • Loss of services that survivors received from the decedent (like handiwork, security, and bookkeeping)
  • Pain and suffering, including but not limited to grief
  • Counseling and any other treatment for pain and suffering
  • Loss of the decedent’s non-economic value, known as loss of consortium

Attorneys get to know their clients, learning exactly how a pedestrian accident has negatively affected them. It ensures that the lawyer’s settlement demands reflect the actual and total cost of the client’s damages.

Consider Hiring a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer 

If you have been negatively affected by a pedestrian accident in any way, hiring a lawyer can be the right decision because:

  • You may be in unfamiliar circumstances: It can be distressing when uncertain how to proceed after an accident. A lawyer will ensure you’re focused on recovery, and they are seeking exactly the amount of money you deserve. 
  • A lawyer has been in this situation before: Trust someone who has helped many injured pedestrians secure fair compensation after accidents. You should take full advantage of attorneys’ legal training and experience.
  • Your law firm will relieve the financial burden of your case: Your attorney will pay to complete your case. They may even use resources, including experts, that you would be unable to afford on your own.
  • There is no out-of-pocket cost to hire an attorney: Your attorney will receive a fee only if they negotiate a settlement or win a jury verdict for you. This means you don’t have to pay anything out of pocket for legal services, as your attorney’s fee will come from your settlement or verdict.
  • You can file a lawsuit if you have an attorney: While you can figure out a lawsuit on your own, it can be tough. Attorneys regularly file suit on their client’s behalf, so suing liable parties is a viable option when you hire a lawyer.

Many clients note that hiring a pedestrian accident lawyer allowed them to heal, physically and mentally, after their accident. Having a capable legal counselor leading the way after your collision can be just what you need.

What Attorneys Do for Injured Pedestrians

When you hire a lawyer, you should expect that they will:

Obtain Any Evidence That Benefits Your Case

Compelling evidence is one of the most important components of winning cases, and your lawyer may utilize:

  • Eyewitness testimony supporting your account of the accident
  • Video from security cameras, traffic cameras, dashboard cameras, or other sources
  • Photographs of damaged vehicles
  • A police report
  • An expert’s reconstruction of the accident, which can be a substitute or complement to video 

Your attorney will comprehensively investigate the accident, securing any evidence supporting your claim or lawsuit.

Monitor Your Recovery and Document Damages

Accident-related damages are ultimately what entitle you to compensation. Your lawyer will keep track of your injuries and recovery, and they will secure proof of your damages using:

  • Medical bills
  • X-rays and any other diagnostic images of your injuries
  • Your doctors’ descriptions of your injuries and symptoms
  • Past bank statements or pay stubs proving your professional damages
  • A therapist or other mental health professional’s description of your pain and suffering
  • Bills related to damaged property

Attorneys know how to prove the cost of a pedestrian accident. Your lawyer will work with any experts whose insight or testimony strengthens your case.

Calculate a Case Value Reflecting Current and Future Damages

Your case value is the total cost of your economic and non-economic damages. Trust your attorney to pinpoint this figure down to the dollar.

Negotiate a Settlement with Liable Parties

Once your attorney knows their settlement calculation, they will contact insurance company representatives to demand a fair settlement. They may present a demand letter or respond to an insurance company’s initial offer (a lowball offer).

Lead Any Necessary Lawsuit and Trial

While settlements are the most frequent outcome of pedestrian accident cases, it’s not a given that liable insurance companies will pay you fairly. If your attorney does not receive a fair offer from insurers, your attorney will speak with you about suing.

Oversee Every Other Detail of Your Case

Attorneys handle countless insurance claims and lawsuits; no two cases are identical. When you hire a lawyer, you trust them to:

  • Put together the strongest case possible
  • Handle all case-related communications
  • Draft and file paperwork accurately and promptly
  • Create a strategy personalized to you and adjust that strategy as necessary
  • Press insurance companies to resolve the claims process efficiently
  • Manage every other detail of your case, ensuring that the result falls in your favor 

You have enough on your hands with recovery. Allow an experienced pedestrian accident attorney to lead your case so you can heal without added stress.

What Are My Responsibilities When I Hire a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?

A wooden human figurine holding a judge's or auctioneer's gavel sits on a red book on a rough surface.

When you hire a lawyer, your duty is to your recovery and any personal obligations you must tend to. Your lawyer may need you to participate in aspects of the case, such as:

  • Making statements to insurance companies, which your lawyer may arrange for you to do in a written format
  • Evaluating settlement offers and deciding whether to accept the settlement or keep fighting for more compensation
  • Provide your account of the pedestrian accident

Your attorney will make these obligations as pain-free as possible. Expect your legal team to handle as much of the claims and legal process as possible, as this is their duty to you.

How Long Will My Case Take?

Your lawyer will work to ensure you receive fair compensation as soon as possible. Each case is different, so it is difficult to say how long yours will take.

If insurance companies negotiate in good faith, your case can conclude in relatively short order. If you need to sue, this can take longer. Trust that your attorney will do what they can to deliver a fair financial recovery as soon as possible.

Please do not wait to hire a personal injury attorney; they need to secure evidence and file your case before the statute of limitations expires.

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Mike Hancock


People involved in serious accidents experience loss and often don’t know what to do next. Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Mike Hancock has dedicated his career to handling the recovery process for his clients so that their lives can get back to normal.

Mike has excelled in personal injury litigation for over 30 years and even though that’s earned him numerous professional honors, what’s most important to him is meeting directly with you and his commitment to giving you peace of mind.

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