Pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts and across the nation have drastically increased in the past decade with Massachusetts experiencing a 100% increase since 2020. Nationwide, the increase is 17%.
There were 75 people who lost their lives on Massachusetts streets in 2021. A study by WalkBoston found that there are 12 towns and cities that are responsible for most of the pedestrian accidents with Boston and Springfield the worst offenders. The 10 other municipalities are Lowell, Brockton, Dedham, Framingham, Lawrence, New Bedford, Oxford, Saugus, Weymouth, and Yarmouth. The law firm of Burns and Jain, pedestrian accident lawyers, represent victims and their families in each of these cities and in others across the state.
State Street, Springfield Pedestrian Accidents
The report especially indicted Springfield that had 9 fatalities, which, despite being a much smaller city, was the same as Boston. One particularly dangerous street was State Street, in Springfield, where 4 pedestrians lost their lives last year. State Street is a 4-lane arterial that runs from downtown and divides a number of residential neighborhoods consisting mainly of people of color and students. Traffic experts blame fast-moving traffic along with decrepit traffic signal equipment and few pedestrian signals for making it such a hazard.
Older residents or those over 65 are more vulnerable to being victims when trying to traverse dangerous city streets. They consist of 36% of all fatal pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts though only comprising 17% of the general population.
Causes of Pedestrian Traffic Accidents
The causes of pedestrian deaths are many:
- Speed—many urban and residential streets have posted speed limits of 30-35 miles per hour, which encourages fast driving. Studies show that reducing speeds to 20 miles per hour drastically reduces pedestrian injuries and deaths. Installing speed bumps and roundabouts also contribute to slower speeds.
- Lack of crosswalks and warnings to motorists—crosswalks offer warnings to motorists but motorists need to be aware of them. By elevating crosswalks or installing flashing lights and warning signs, motorists will be more conscious of them and will be more likely to slow and stop for those crossing intersections
- Distracted motorists—only increased enforcement and more public awareness can make drivers get off their cellphones
- Intoxication and drug use—despite stricter penalties, people continue to drink and/or use drugs while driving
- Confusing traffic devices about safe walking procedures can lead to disaster
- Distracted or impaired pedestrians—in some cases, pedestrians who are intoxicated or focused on their cellphones will walk onto a street without looking and into the path of a motor vehicle
- Time of day—most pedestrian injuries occur between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. at the height of rush hour. Most fatalities occur between 5:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. when visibility is limited and more drunk and fatigued drivers are on the road
- Type of vehicle—an LTV with raised bumper heights tend to strike pedestrians above the waist, increasing the likelihood of being run over. The risk of death from an LTV-pedestrian crash is 3.4 times higher than with standard vehicles.
- Lack of sidewalks and crossing devices, width of roadways, and poorly timed signals endanger pedestrians
Any of these are causes that an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer will consider among others depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Liability and Compensation
In most pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles, liability will fall on the motorist. Even if the pedestrian was jaywalking, was impaired, found strolling on the side of the road, or working on their car that was on the edge of the road, a motorist is expected to be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists and to avoid striking them. Unless it is a situation where the motorist was unable to notice or see the pedestrian due to an obstruction that was not possible to avoid or had no opportunity to observe and react in time, the motorist will be found at fault.
An injured motorist is entitled to PIP or personal injury protection benefits in Massachusetts as we are a no-fault state. An injured party can collect up to $8,000 for medical expenses and lost wages in certain cases regardless of fault. The benefits can derive from the auto policy of the responsible motorist or if uninsured or the motorist fled the scene without a trace, the injured party can use their own policy or that of a household member.
Once the threshold limit is met in an injury case, which is incurring medical expenses of at least $2,000, or suffering a serious injury such as a broken limb, or succumbing to injuries, the victim or the decedent’s estate can bring a claim against the motorist. If it was a hit-and-run or an uninsured driver, the victim can recover compensation under the uninsured motorist (UM) provision of their policy. UM coverage is mandatory in our state.
Should the at-fault motorist have insufficient policy limits in a serious accident case, the victim may seek additional funds from their insurer if they purchased underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which is optional in Massachusetts. However, the UIM limits must exceed the policy limits of the at-fault driver. For example, if the defendant’s liability limits were $50,000 and your UIM coverage was $100,000, then you can recover up to $50,000 more in compensation. But if your UIM is also $50,000, you cannot recover any UIM benefits..
Damages in Pedestrian Injury Accidents
You are entitled to certain damages if injured in an accident and can prove that another party was responsible for the accident and your injuries. These damages consist of:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
To ensure that you collect the proper damagers and the compensation that your claim deserve, retain a pedestrian accident lawyer from Burns and Jain to handle your case.
Retain a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer from Burns and Jain
In an accident where your life is turned upside down, even for a relatively short time, you deserve and should expect to be compensated for your medical expenses, lost earnings, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. By retaining an experienced Massachusetts pedestrian accident lawyer from Burns and Jain, you will gain a highly experienced and dedicated advocate. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation.