Being involved in a pedestrian car accident can be life-changing. Injuries sustained in the collision can lead to physical pain, mental distress, medical bills, or worse–death.
In 2022, more than 350 people died in collisions across Ontario. Unfortunately, this catastrophic number included at least 29 pedestrians.
A pedestrian is considered one of the vulnerable road users because they do not have any protection that can absorb the impact of a traffic collision. Pedestrians are more likely to be injured or killed in an accident than occupants inside their vehicles.
What are the causes of pedestrian car accidents?
Pedestrian motor vehicle accidents occur for various reasons. These grounds are primarily based on the negligence of the driver and the failure on the part of the pedestrian to use the road responsibly. The common causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Failure of the drivers or pedestrians to yield the right of way
- Speed of drivers
- Intoxication of drivers or pedestrians
- Fatigued drivers or drowsy driving
- Right turn incidents
- Distracted drivers or pedestrian distracted while walking
- Failure of pedestrians to look both ways before crossing
- Pedestrians stepping out into traffic
- Dark clothing of pedestrians
- Pedestrians working or playing in a roadway
- Impaired visibility
- Weather conditions
- Poor road design
- Vehicle defects
When does a pedestrian have the right-of-way?
Pedestrians in Ontario have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, even if it is unmarked. Crosswalks have designated spots where pedestrians can cross the street at traffic lights.
Pedestrians have the right-of-way when the crossing light shows the go signal. In the absence of a pedestrian crossing light, pedestrians have the right-of-way on a green light.
The drivers must stop, yield to and wait for the pedestrians to safely reach the other side of the road before they continue driving.
However, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way. An example is when an officer or a traffic control device directs the pedestrians to not cross the road.
Who is at fault when a vehicle hits a pedestrian?
It is important to determine which party is at fault in any traffic collision. In a pedestrian motor vehicle accident, the pedestrian or the driver, or both, can be held liable depending on the circumstances of the collision.
The reverse onus in the Highway Traffic Act places the burden of proof on the driver of the vehicle involved in the pedestrian accident which occurs on public roadways.
The Section 193(1) of the HTA states that: “When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle.”
The provision provides that the motorist who struck a pedestrian is presumed to be negligent until proven otherwise. It is the responsibility of the driver and their lawyer to refute the negligence and prove that they acted reasonably and accordingly at the time of the collision. Meanwhile, the pedestrian only has to substantiate their claim that the collision occurred and that it caused injuries or damages to them.
On the contrary, there are instances that a pedestrian is deemed to be partially at fault in an accident. These occurrences are classified under the contributory negligence rules. The mandate indicates that the actions or irresponsibilities of the pedestrian played a contributing role in the collision.
In the event that a pedestrian is proven liable in an accident, the damages or losses that they have suffered will be reduced by a certain percentage from their award. That percentage will be finalized after the amount of fault that the pedestrian contributed is determined.
What happens when a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle?
A pedestrian who is hit by a vehicle may end up with serious or fatal injuries, depending on the severity of the accident. As a result, the pedestrian has the right to obtain compensation for their injuries and losses. They can file a claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver to help them recover. The common damages a pedestrian can be compensated for after a collision involve:
- Medical bills
- Future treatment and care costs
- Income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If the pedestrian died following the accident, the surviving family members or loved ones may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death damages such as funeral and burial expenses.
What should you do if you are hit by a vehicle?
If you or a loved one have been involved in a pedestrian car accident, it is necessary to be knowledgeable on what you should do next. The driver involved may be responsible for the collision and for paying for damages your or your loved one have suffered.
Here are some of the simple steps that you should keep in mind to help you obtain the compensation for your losses:
1. Request for medical help
Contact an ambulance immediately so you can get properly assessed for possible injuries. Tell the medical personnel what you are feeling and let them evaluate you and give you the appropriate treatment for your injuries. Document your injuries as well as the medical assessment and aid you received following the collision.
2. Gather evidence
Start gathering evidence and information at the scene to support your personal injury claim. Take photographs of the vehicle involved, its license plate, any damages to the vehicle, the area where the collision happened and the weather and road condition at the time. Get the contact information of the driver and their insurance provider and any witnesses who may have seen the incident.
3. Call the police
Call the police to the scene of the collision. Fully cooperate with the investigation and obtain a copy of the police or accident report. The record will carry the important information about the driver involved and the findings of the authorities. This report will be beneficial when you start dealing with the insurance company.
4. Talk to your insurance provider
Contact your insurance company and inform them about the accident. Explain the details of the incident and provide them the information you collected at the scene.
5. Hire a personal injury lawyer
Contact a personal injury lawyer to assist you. The lawyer will help you get all the other information you need and carry out the necessary legal procedures to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Seeking legal advice following a pedestrian accident can help you understand your rights and navigate the right steps to take. Call an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist and guide you throughout the process.