The most recent available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that pedestrian deaths in automobile accidents rose approximately 10 percent between 2010 and 2012. South Carolina is consistently ranked in the top five most dangerous states for pedestrians, and trends suggest that things may get worse before they improve. If you have been hit by a car or truck, it is sadly not uncommon, but that does mean that the courts know what to look for when a suit of this nature is brought.
Trends in Pedestrian Accidents
If one examines the NHTSA data, one can see that the most accidents happen to young children and the elderly. One can also infer by volume that the majority of accidents occur in urban areas, which is somewhat counterintuitive – one might think rural areas, with their two-lane roads and paucity of traffic lights, would be more hazardous, but if one examines the statistics, one can see that urban intersections bred the most pedestrian-related accidents during the period of the available data.
It is also noteworthy that alcohol played a role in approximately half the incidents where a pedestrian was killed. One might easily assume that the proportion would be higher, especially in urban areas, but it was not. These trends are noteworthy because if your accident fits with the prevailing tendency, a jury may be more likely to lend credence to your evidence. If it appears to be an anomaly, juries may be more skeptical.
Duties of Care
While it may help if your accident fits the prevailing pattern, another imperative is to be able to show that you did not violate your duty of care as a pedestrian. Many are unaware that pedestrians even have duties to motorists, but it would be contrary to public policy if pedestrians had no obligations to be safe when interacting with motorists.
Pedestrians must obey the law, as one might imagine. Jaywalking and other misdemeanors are generally held to be a breach of the duty of care, and in some situations, might give rise to a finding of negligence per se. Negligence per se is where the breaking of a law or regulation proves negligence solely by the infraction. This concept is recognized in South Carolina case law. For example, if a motorist is pulled over after hitting a tree and found to be severely intoxicated, they have broken the law against driving while under the influence. Because they have broken the law, they have breached their duty of care – which in turn proves that a duty existed in the first place.
It is also within a pedestrian’s duty of care to avoid conduct that would leave a motorist with no time or chance to avoid them. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘last clear chance’ doctrine, though in South Carolina it is more often discussed in the realm of comparative negligence. If you, the pedestrian, conduct yourself in a way that renders you more than 51 percent at fault, you will not recover.
Contact A Qualified Attorney
If you have been injured, all you want to do is recover and go back to the way your life was before. An experienced attorney can help speed up that process. The dedicated North Charleston accident attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse will work hard for you and your family, and help you get through what can be an extremely difficult time in your life. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.