Earlier this summer, a 28-year-old man died from injuries he suffered when he was struck by a Mazda SUV when crossing Middle Street in Weymouth near the Route 3 overpass around 11:00 p.m. The man had been taken to South Shore Hospital but died soon thereafter. Other details about the accident were not reported.
Pedestrian accidents are not uncommon in urban areas, but thousands of pedestrians are injured and killed in suburban and rural areas as well. There are numerous safeguards for pedestrians including flashing lights on crosswalks, prominent signs alerting motorists, safety islands for pedestrians, and increased illumination at intersections. Despite these measures, pedestrians continue to get struck and to suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in many cases. Many accidents occur from the negligent conduct of motorists such as:
- Driving distracted (texting or calling, eating, grooming, talking, etc.)
- Impairment from drugs
In 2018, 680 pedestrians were struck in Boston and 38 killed statewide, just some of the 6,227 pedestrians who were killed nationwide last year. The Governors’ Highway Safety Association put out a report that pedestrian accidents and deaths are on the rise national citing a 52% increase since 2009. Like the Weymouth accident, most pedestrian deaths occur at night with one-third on local roads, 25% on state highways, 16% on US highways, and 10% on interstates.
Along with the factors listed above, the increase may be attributable to an increase in population, more cell-phone use by drivers, and to the upsurge in SUV purchases, which are more deadly than standard passenger cars in encounters with pedestrians.
Massachusetts Crosswalk Laws
While we don’t know all the facts and circumstances regarding the Weymouth tragedy, there are laws regarding crossing at intersections or at any other portion of a roadway.
Many urban and suburban areas have marked crosswalks at major intersections. If there are traffic signals, then pedestrians are only permitted to walk when prompted by a green light or Walk signal for their direction of travel. If no light is at the intersection, then under state law an approaching motorist must stop and allow a pedestrian to cross if he/she is within 10 feet of that half of the roadway where the vehicle would be proceeding. It is unlawful for vehicles to pass a car that has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross.
If a motorist encounters a pedestrian who is crossing against the light, the driver must stop and allow the individual to pass. Although the pedestrian may be jaywalking in circumvention of the law, the driver still has a duty to exercise ordinary care and to avoid striking and injuring the person. The standard is whether a reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances would have stopped. In cases where liability is disputed, you will need the services of a car accident lawyer from Burns and Jain.
Comparative Fault Law
Pedestrians, like motorists, also have a duty to exercise reasonable care when crossing the street. Do not suddenly dart in the middle of a street to outrun approaching traffic. Even though a motorist must stop if you are crossing against the light, this does not excuse your conduct in disobeying the law and acting unreasonably so as to endanger your own safety. This includes a situation where you see a rapidly approaching car that will obviously not be able to stop in time but you decide to cross anyway since you have the light. In the Weymouth accident that occurred at night, the unfortunate individual had a duty to exercise care, which could mean wearing bright clothing, looking both ways before crossing especially in poorly lit areas, crossing at the curb or in a crosswalk, and being aware of rapidly approaching cars. If the young man had been in a position where he should have been clearly seen in time to stop, then total liability for the accident may fall on the motorist.
Massachusetts has a comparative negligence law whereby your own degree of fault in causing an accident or your own injuries cannot exceed 49% or you will be barred from recovering any compensation. This precludes a situation where you could collect if both parties were equally at fault. But if you are 49% or less at fault, your award of damages is just decreased by your own percentage of responsibility. If you are awarded $100,000 but you were 40% at fault, you would receive $60,000.
Damages in Pedestrian Accidents
If you were injured or a loved one was killed by the negligent conduct of a motorist, you are entitled to damages. To prove your damages and to receive the most compensation available, retain a Weymouth car accident lawyer from Burns and Jain to handle your claim.
Damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
If the accident was fatal, the administrator for the decedent’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the immediate family members and claim:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses for emergency services and final treatment and care
- Lost potential income over the working life of the decedent
- Loss of the decedent’s love and companionship
- Pain and suffering of the decedent if he was visibly observed to have suffered prior to his death
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent
Punitive damages in Massachusetts are only allowed in wrongful death actions. If the defendant driver’s conduct was especially egregious, then punitive damages might be allowed.
Retain a Weymouth Car Accident Lawyer from Burns and Jain
Pedestrian accidents often result in life-altering injuries if not death and present challenging and complex issues that only an experienced and skilled pedestrian accident lawyer should handle. Call Burns and Jain at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim and see how we can get you the compensation your claim deserves.