The typical passenger vehicle weighs 3,000 to 4,000 pounds– many times greater than the average person. When an automobile strikes a pedestrian, the injuries to the pedestrian can be catastrophic and even result in death. In 2019, there were 236 pedestrian deaths in Georgia, the fourth consecutive year in which more than 200 Georgia pedestrians lost their lives. In response to these alarming deaths, the Georgia Department of Transportation has released a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.
How can I stay safe as a pedestrian?
Here are a few tips to stay safe as a pedestrian:
- Never assume drivers see you- you never know when someone is distracted or daydreaming.
- Try to make eye contact with the driver if you are crossing in front of a vehicle in a parking lot or at a crosswalk before crossing in front of the vehicle.
- Be on the lookout for cars pulling out of parking lots and side streets.
- Avoid texting and walking- the more alert you are, the more likely you can avoid danger.
- Stay on sidewalks as much as possible.
- If walking at night, wear reflective clothing.
What duties do drivers have to avoid pedestrians in the roadway?
O.C.G.A. § 40‑6‑93 requires that: “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, shall give warning by sounding his horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated, or intoxicated person.” This means if a pedestrian is struck by a Georgia driver, even if the pedestrian was in the roadway and should not have been, the driver may still be liable for the pedestrian’s injuries if he should have avoided the accident.
Georgia case law supports this proposition. In Fountain v. Thompson, 252 Ga. 256 (1994), the Georgia Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a pedestrian, who was lying drunk in the middle of the road when he was struck by a motorist and killed, could recover for personal injuries. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that, even though the pedestrian may have been negligent by lying in the middle of the road in a drunken state, his negligence did not bar recovery. The Court also expressly held that a person lying prone on the highway in a drunken state “is owed a duty of care where he is lying in the open on a flat road, even though undiscovered.” The question of whether the driver should have discovered him and avoided him is a question for a jury.
In Mayo v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 302 Gap. App. 19 (2009), the Georgia Court of Appeals held that summary judgment was improper where a man was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while standing naked in the middle of a poorly lit highway at 1:00 a.m. In that case, there was even testimony that the naked man stepped directly out in front of the tractor-trailer, leaving no time to avoid the collision. Nevertheless, the Court held the question of whether the truck driver could or should have seen and avoided striking the decedent was a question for a jury.
What are my rights if I am hit by a driver?
If you are struck by a motorist, it is important to contact an experienced injury attorney. As outlined above, even if you did something wrong, such as crossing the street outside a crosswalk or standing in the road, you may still be able to recover compensation for injuries and medical treatment.
If the driver is at fault, Georgia law requires the driver to compensate the pedestrian for any injuries caused by the accident. An injured person is entitled to “damages,” which include:
- Past medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Past pain and suffering
- Future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Interference with daily living
- In some circumstances, punitive damages
Time is of the essence if you are involved in an accident as a pedestrian. A lawyer will need to preserve all relevant evidence related to the accident to obtain the best possible recovery for their client. If you have been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, call the Rafi Law Firm at 404-800-1156 for a free consultation to discuss your case.