Pedestrians are one of the most vulnerable road users as they are unprotected and have more exposure than drivers of other types of vehicles. If a pedestrian survives being hit by a motor vehicle, the injuries can be severe, including skull or limb fractures, cuts and road burns, spinal cord or brain damage. In fact, pedestrian injuries are the leading cause of death for children 14 years of age or younger in Canada.
WHO IS AT FAULT WHEN A PEDESTRIAN IS HIT BY A VEHICLE?
In Alberta, the Traffic Safety Act sets out the law regarding who is responsible in pedestrian vs. automobile accidents. According to this Act, it is the responsibility of the driver to prove that he/she was not at fault for the accident.
Thus, the Act places what is known as a “reverse onus” on the driver to prove that a reasonable driver in the same situation could not have prevented the accident from occurring.
If the driver can prove that the actions of the pedestrian caused or contributed to the accident, it is up to the Court to decide whether a pedestrian was partially or completely at fault for a collision. A Court will review all of the circumstances of an accident to determine liability including whether the pedestrian was acting reasonably, where the pedestrian crossed the street, and whether the pedestrian was taking reasonable care for his/her own safety.
HOW PEDESTRIANS CAN ENSURE THEIR OWN SAFETY
All pedestrians are obligated to demonstrate due care while using the road. As a pedestrian, the Use of Highway and Rules of The Road Regulation (section 92) requires you to yield the right of way to a vehicle if you are not in a crosswalk.
The law tends to favour pedestrians who are injured in motor vehicle accidents. However, courts will be less forgiving if you are found to be distracted while crossing the road.
Pedestrians should employ the following tips to ensure their safety:
- Always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert, especially when crossing the road;
- Maintain eye contact with drivers and wait until vehicles have stopped before crossing the road;
- Obey all traffic signals;
- Only cross the road at designated crossing points;
- Wear light-coloured or reflective clothing when walking in low light or poor weather conditions;
- Remove your headphones and put your phone away when you’re crossing the road;
- Always use a sidewalk when one is available;
- Watch for vehicles turning as you cross an intersection; and
- Make sure all vehicles have seen you and will stop for you before proceeding across the road.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN STRUCK BY A VEHICLE AS A PEDESTRIAN?
1. Remain Calm and Move Out of Harm’s Way (if possible)
If you have been struck by a motor vehicle, the first thing to do is to move out of the way of danger, if you can. If you are unable to move due to injuries, you should stay in place while awaiting medical assistance. If you are unable to move, try to have someone direct traffic to protect you. It is also important to stay calm.
2. Call 911 and Keep Everyone at the Scene
It is important to call 911 immediately and do not downplay any injuries you are suffering. While waiting for the police and paramedics to arrive, try to keep the driver of the motor vehicle and any witnesses at the scene. It is best to have all information provided to the police while memories are fresh.
3. Document Everything
An injured pedestrian, similar to any injured car accident victim, should keep a record of everything including:
- Record the driver’s name, registration, driver’s license number, insurance information and license plate number;
- Record contact information from witnesses and request whether any dash cam footage is available;
- Take photographs of the scene, the injuries, the vehicle involved in the collision and any other pertinent information;
- Record the exact time of the accident and the direction that you were travelling in at the time of the accident; and
- Take note of any damage to personal belongs and keep receipts if you need to replace or repair any items.
4. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Seek medical attention even if you do not believe you are seriously injured. Any injury can be more serious or develop into something more serious. Seeking immediate medical attention will lower the chance of aggravating injuries that are left untreated or identify any internal injuries.
5. Seek the Advice of a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries as a result of a pedestrian accident, it is imperative that you have an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine fault for the accident.
Consulting with a personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights, consider your options, and potentially mitigate any problems that may be a barrier to filing a claim.
At Cuming & Gillespie LLP we have been representing accident victims for more than 20 years. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges that arise in the aftermath of a pedestrian accident involving a motor vehicle and can empathize with what victims of such incidents are going through.
If you are considering filing a personal injury claim following an accident with a motor vehicle, do not hesitate to contact the experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or at 403-571-0555. We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.