The nationwide COVID-19 pandemic has discouraged many drivers from being out on the roads in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Due to the fact that many people were stuck at home, more Americans decided to go for daily walks or bike rides to get some fresh air. Despite the significant decrease of cars on the road, one-third of the 258 traffic deaths in Washington, D.C in 2020 were related to pedestrians and bicyclists. Early data from 2020 indicated that the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents remained steady across the region. According to a news release from the Metropolitan Council of Governments, these accidents account for 29 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are not as protected as drivers and passengers in motor vehicles and, therefore, are incredibly vulnerable when they share the road with motor vehicles. In accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists, the results are, more often than not, serious injuries or even death. Distracted drivers are the most detrimental to pedestrians and bicyclists as they may not even notice the bicyclist or pedestrian until it is too late.
At Dash Injury Law Firm, our pedestrian and bicycle personal injury attorneys are experienced in numerous accident claims. Our thoroughness and efficiency ensure that our clients receive excellent results as quickly as possible.
Safety Tips From Street Smart
With the 2021 regional Street Smart campaign launch, local and state officials combine education with increased enforcement of safety laws to ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.
If you’re driving…
- Slow down and obey the speed limit.
- Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
- Be careful when passing buses or stopped vehicles.
- When turning, yield to people walking and biking.
- Look for bicyclists before opening your door.
- Allow at least three feet when passing bikes.
- Avoid using your cell phone and never text while driving.
If you’re walking…
- Cross the street at the corner and use marked crosswalks when they’re available.
- Use the pushbuttons.
- Wait for the walk signal to cross the street.
- Watch for turning vehicles.
- Before crossing, look left, right, and left again.
- Be visible. Wear something light or reflective after dark.
- Watch out for blind spots around trucks and buses.
- Avoid using your cell phone while you’re crossing the street.
- On an off-street trail, obey all posted signage and approach intersections with caution.
If you’re biking…
- Obey signs and signals.
- Never ride against traffic.
- Ride in a straight line at least three feet from parked cars.
- Use hand signals to tell drivers what you intend to do.
- Wear a helmet.
- Use lights at night and when visibility is poor.
- On an off-street trail, obey all posted signs and approach intersections with caution.
It is important to note that Laws and regulations differ between jurisdictions.
Steps to Take if Involved in a Pedestrian or Bicycle Accident
These types of accidents can occur even if the pedestrian or cyclist is extremely cautious and aware of the surrounding area. If you are involved in an accident, take the following steps:
- Seek Medical Attention
Seek prompt medical attention for any injuries that you have sustained.
- Collect Insurance Information
Make sure to get the insurance, driver’s license, and vehicle information from any drivers involved in the accident.
- Contact Police
Contact the police and have an accident report written up just as you would if the accident involved two motor vehicles.
- Obtain Contact Information
Obtain the contact information of any witnesses. Often, liability is contested by motorists in bicycle and pedestrian accident cases, so witnesses can be extremely important in proving liability.
- Take Pictures
If possible, take photos of the accident scene and your injuries. Cyclists should also take photos of the damage to their bikes.
The Legal Process Involved in a Pedestrian or Bicycle Accident Claim
When the injured party has retained an attorney, the attorney will communicate with the insurance company on the victim’s behalf. The attorney will work to gather evidence that supports the victim’s claim and will later put together a demand package. The demand package includes all medical records, bills, and any other damages that the victim claims as well as a settlement offer from the attorney. If the insurance company refuses to “settle”, then a lawsuit must be filed.
After the lawsuit is filed, the opposing counsel will engage in discovery, or, the exchange of evidence. Common items that may be exchanged are medical records, medical bills, employment records, eyewitness accounts, and driving records. Both parties may be deposed and may also have to attend mediation, or, the attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement with the assistance of a neutral third party.
If both parties can not agree to a settlement amount then the case will proceed to trial. During the trial, attorneys will ask the parties and their witnesses questions about the incident in front of a judge and a jury. They will, additionally, present evidence for the judge and jury to consider in order for them to later determine liability. The attorneys at Dash Injury Law Firm have conducted jury trials of all types and are not intimidated by a courtroom battle.
Defenses to Bicycle and Pedestrian Accident Claims
Drivers who cause bicycle and pedestrian accidents are often quick to shift blame to injured victims. Some of these defenses may include arguing:
- The pedestrian was not using a crosswalk.
- The pedestrian did not look before crossing the street.
- The pedestrian did not pay attention to traffic signals (such as the “walk” signal).
- The pedestrian interrupted the flow of traffic.
- The pedestrian or the bicyclist was traveling in the wrong direction.
- The pedestrian or the bicyclist was not visible.
- The bicyclist was not wearing protective gear.
- The bicyclist did not use designated bike lanes.
- The bicyclist did not signal before turning.
- The bicyclist was speeding.
These are just a handful of the defenses at-fault drivers may argue against an injured pedestrian or bicyclist.