Pedestrian Crosswalk Accidents
Although the very purpose of crosswalks is to provide pedestrians with a safe manner by which to cross a street or roadway, the unfortunate truth is that pedestrians face risk of injury or fatality even when crossing in the manner that was intended to protect them. According to NHTSA crash data, on average nearly 10% of all fatal pedestrian accidents occur in actual crosswalks. Despite recent changes to Illinois traffic laws, heightened enforcement efforts, as well as the increase of marked crosswalks throughout the Chicagoland area, pedestrian crosswalk accidents continue to occur.
Motor vehicles, by far, present the greatest danger to pedestrians. Crosswalk accidents caused by motorists can occur directly or indirectly. The vast majority of these incidents happen as a direct result of a motorist striking a person on foot as they are attempting to cross the road. However, motorists can also indirectly cause or contribute to a pedestrian crosswalk accident, such as when a victim attempts to avoid being struck by an oncoming vehicle, and is subsequently run down by another vehicle, or even a bicyclist.
Regardless of whether a motorist collides directly with a victim or the victim is harmed in an indirect manner, what is most significant in terms of liability, is the extent of fault that is ultimately attributed to the parties involved. Fault can be attributed entirely to one person, or can be apportioned amongst separate individuals or entities. While the law in Illinois strongly favors the rights of pedestrians, it is important to keep in mind that establishing fault requires the presentation of evidence sufficient to support the victim’s claim for damages.
In addition to general principles of tort law that apply to the operation of a motor vehicle (duty of reasonableness, caution, care, lookout, etc.), common sources of evidence in pedestrian injury claims can be found within specific provisions of Illinois Vehicle Code. For example, 625 ILCS 5/1003.1 requires that motorists exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrian…and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary…and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing a child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person. In crosswalks, though, Illinois law sets forth additional duties for motorists which require them to stop and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the roadway within a crosswalk.
Evidence that a motorist was engaging in a specific type of unlawful, reckless, or negligent behavior at the time of the crash can also be used to prove fault in pedestrian injury claims. For example, traffic citations, eyewitness accounts, and/or accident reconstruction experts are often used to prove that the Defendant’s traveling speed was a factor in the accident. Cell phone records can establish that driver was using a mobile device when the crash occurred, and therefore was distracted. Fault can also be shown through evidence of impaired driving, regardless of whether the Defendant was arrested or charged for driving under the influence.
Proving fault in pedestrian crosswalk accident cases can be complex, particularly if the Defendant challenges the issue. In a handful of cases, the Defendant may actually admit to being at-fault, but this is generally limited to cases in which the facts and evidence available indisputably establish fault. More commonly, however, the Defendant will challenge fault, whether in whole or in part, in an effort to limit or bar the Plaintiff’s recovery. When this occurs, the Plaintiff’s burden, at a very minimum, becomes twofold—proving that the Defendant was negligent, while also establishing that that any negligence attributed to the Plaintiff does not exceed the 50% threshold set forth under Illinois law.
Having an experienced trial attorney to advocate on your behalf is critical, both to proving your claim, as well as to maximizing the amount of financial recovery ultimately obtained. From day one, our pedestrian injury lawyers will go to work to identify, protect, and secure the evidence necessary to prove your case, with the purpose of putting the most amount of money in your pocket.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a pedestrian crosswalk accident, contact the Chicago Pedestrian Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. at 773-516-4100 to schedule your FREE no-obligation personal injury consultation, or send us a message online.