Going for a walk in Chattanooga is a great way to explore the city, stay in shape, and help the environment. It can also be a dangerous practice when there are negligence or reckless drivers on the roads. Accidents involving pedestrians can be traumatizing and life changing. A pedestrian can be hit at a slow rate of speed (25 MPH) and still be thrown 30 feet or more.
When a pedestrian is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, he or she is likely to suffer a serious injury, even if the vehicle was traveling at a slow rate of speed. The most common injuries to pedestrians who are hit by cars include the following:
- The lower extremities (pelvis fractures, broken legs, lacerations, and nerve damage)
- The head, face, and neck (jaw fractures, vertebrae injuries, SCI injuries, shoulder dislocation, amputation, concussions, lacerations, skull damage, and traumatic brain injury)
- The upper extremities (injuries to the hands, arms, fingers, abdomen, and chest)
- Internal injuries (internal bleeding, organ damage, broken ribs, and brain bleeds)
Today, we review some of the most common – and most damaging – injuries a pedestrian can sustain.
Traumatic brain injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common injuries suffered by pedestrians involved in motor vehicle accidents. A pedestrian does not have the same protection as a passenger in a motor vehicle and is more susceptible to a TBI because of the lack of protection.
Pedestrians are either violently thrown onto the street or their head smashes against the striking vehicle, leading to a TBI. The severity of the TBI could lead to incapacitation for the rest of the victim’s life, if he or she survives such a horrific crash.
Spinal cord injuries
Another common injury pedestrians suffer in an accident with a motor vehicle is an injury to the spinal cord. Fractures to the spin or the vertebrae in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident can be devastating. Even the most minor damage to the spine can change your life.
Soft tissue injuries
Injuries to the soft tissue of the body can occur when a pedestrian is involved in a motor vehicle crash. Soft tissue injuries include sprains, tears, bruises, and dislocations. These injuries often heal on their own over time, but can leave scarring and discomfort that prevents you from conducting everyday activities.
Not every pedestrian accident victim will suffer long-lasting physical injuries. Some will recover within a few days or even a couple of weeks. However, the victim could wind up suffering from long-term mental trauma because of the accident. Just because this trauma is not visible does not mean it is not significant. Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD are common in serious accident victims, and it can cost businesses billions of dollars in productivity.
As one might expect, pedestrians are at the highest risk of dying in an accident with a motor vehicle due to the lack of protection and the size of the vehicle. Children are at special risk, as they may be too small to be seen in rearview and sideview mirrors, and not all cars are equipped with backup cameras.
What are the pedestrian laws of Tennessee?
Chattanooga pedestrian safety is not the sole responsibility of drivers in the state. Pedestrians must also follow the laws that are in place for vehicles and for pedestrians. Tennessee law defines a pedestrian as someone walking or riding in a wheelchair. Pedestrians are permitted to walk on every road in the state that is not access controlled (interstates).
The law also permits the following:
- Pedestrians can cross the road anywhere unless there is a local ordinance restricting such movement or if there is an intersection controlled by a signal adjacent to where they wish to cross.
- Drivers must yield to pedestrians who are in marked crosswalks, driveways, and alleyways.
- Pedestrians are required to use sidewalks when possible and if they are not obstructed.
- When walking on the road, pedestrians are asked to walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
- Pedestrians must yield to oncoming traffic when crossing a street outside of an unmarked or marked crosswalk.
When it comes to drivers, the law states the following for drivers in all situations:
- Exercise due care to avoid a collision with any pedestrian.
- Operate their vehicle at safe speeds.
- Operate the vehicle under control.
- When operating the vehicle, do so with full attention and focus.
- Yield to pedestrians who are in marked crosswalks.
- Yield to pedestrians who are in alleyways and driveways.
- Come to a complete stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks in a school zone.
- Yield to pedestrians present in unmarked crosswalks in a school zone.
Drivers are not permitted to pass and overtake any vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. Drivers are also not permitted to use handheld mobile devices, including digital assistants and mobile phones while driving.
Pedestrian accident statistics
In order to understand how serious pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents are, we have compiled some staggering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- There are more than 60,000 pedestrians injured nationally every year.
- In 2019, there were more than 6,200 pedestrians killed across the country – about one every 85 minutes.
- Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in a car crash than vehicle passengers per trip.
- Close to 75 percent of all pedestrian accidents that result in fatalities happen outside of an intersection.
- Pedestrian accidents occur most often between the hours of 6 PM and Midnight.
- It is more likely for a man to suffer an injury than a female in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.
- An estimated 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities involve impairment, with 18 percent involving an impaired driver.
Were you injured as a pedestrian in a motor vehicle accident? Did you lose a loved one in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident? If so, you have the right to compensation for your injuries or for the wrongful death of your loved one. The experienced and compassionate pedestrian accident attorneys at Wagner & Wagner will fight for your right to compensation. Call our office at 423-756-7923, or complete a contact form online to schedule a consultation. We work with clients in and around Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN and North Georgia.