Despite years of public service announcements and increased awareness of the problem, pedestrian accidents in the Commonwealth have been on the rise over the past 10 years. While there are no definitive reasons for the increase, we can surmise that many of the accidents are the result of distracted motorists, poorly lit or designed intersections, and some fault by pedestrians who are imprudent when crossing the street.
The town of Weymouth, population of over 56,000, has taken steps to address Weymouth pedestrian accidents, and recently received $4000 from the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Grant Program for that purpose. Though relatively small, the sum will be used for educational purposes to alert pedestrians and bicyclists about safely navigating city streets and for overtime pay for police to enforce traffic laws pertinent to pedestrians and cyclists.
In 2018, Weymouth used $542,000 from money received through the Safe Routes to School Program, a joint federal and state program under the auspices of MassDOT, to remedy a troublesome corner near Pingree Elementary School when it added bump-out street curbs on the sidewalks by the school’s entrance that forces drivers to slow down. It also reduced the distance the students have to walk when crossing Commercial Street. Solar -powered warning signs are also being installed as an additional caution.
Weymouth had also received an additional $386,645 last year from the Complete Streets Program, another MassDOT administered endeavor, to install flashing warning signs near crosswalks in heavy foot traffic areas. Pedestrians activate the warning lights before crossing. When on, the signal device’s radar detects an approaching motorist’s speed and flashes a warning if the vehicle is traveling 1 to 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit to slow down. It is anticipated that these measures will have the expected effect of reducing Weymouth pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise
Statistics from 2016, the latest year when data on pedestrian accidents and fatalities were recorded, showed that pedestrian deaths had risen 21% between 2007 and 2016 in our state. The elderly were most at risk, accounting for almost one-third of pedestrian deaths during this time span.
Most pedestrian accidents and deaths occur between 3:00 p.m. and midnight, with the most hazardous time between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. The most perilous time of year for pedestrian safety was between the months of October and January. The colder weather and icy or snowy conditions likely reduced the time when people were out on the streets as well as the number.
40% of bicyclist fatalities involved older bicyclists or those between 45 and 64, with the deadliest period for riding a bicycle between 3-6 p.m. or during rush hour traffic.
Focusing on pedestrian safety is essential if we are to cut down on these tragic accidents. Other towns and cities should follow Weymouth’s example and dedication to this problem by examining dangerous intersections and other areas of their communities where pedestrians are at risk and taking action to protect them.
Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
There are various causes of pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles. The most common are:
- Distracted driving (cell phone use, eating, grooming, talking, not looking at the road)
- Impaired driving due to drugs and/or alcohol
- Driver confusion or inexperience with the particular roadway
- Aggressive driving
- Making an unlawful turn or U-turn
- Backing up without looking
Pedestrians can minimize their risk by only crossing on a green light or after activating a flashing walk signal, and ensuring they have the attention of the motorist before crossing. Do not run out into the street or ignore a “Do Not Walk” signal. If walking at night or during poor weather, consider wearing reflective or bright clothing or using a flashlight.
Damages in a Pedestrian Accident
If injured as a pedestrian by a motor vehicle, you are entitled to PIP or personal injury protection benefits from either your own auto policy, or that of a member of your household’s, or from the responsible driver’s policy. This can provide up to $2,000 in medical expenses if you possess health insurance, or $8,000 if you lack health insurance, Medicare or MassHealth. The limit includes payment for lost earnings. Medical expenses over the limit are submitted to your health plan.
Should your injury meet the no-fault threshold, which is easily surpassed in many cases, then you can bring a claim against the driver or other entity that may have caused your accident. For example, the city may have negligently designed a particular intersection that lacked warning signs, a traffic light or sufficient lighting.
Damages in an accident claim are dependent on the nature and extent of your injuries. Typical damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
If a fatality, then the administrator for the decedent’s estate may bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver on behalf of the decedent’s immediate family members. Damages in wrongful death claims can include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred before death
- Lost earnings the decedent would have earned over his/her lifetime
- Pain and suffering if the decedent was observed to have consciously suffered before succumbing
- Loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, counsel and guidance
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or willful and wanton
Retain a Weymouth Pedestrian Accident Lawyer from Burns and Jain
Pedestrians and bicyclists are at considerable risk for serious or fatal injuries whenever a motor vehicle is involved, even at very low speeds. Make sure your rights are secured and that all avenues for compensation are thoroughly examined by having a Weymouth pedestrian accident lawyer from Burns and Jain handle your case as soon as possible. Call Burns and Jain today at (617) 227-7423 to schedule a free consultation about your injury claim.