While a lot of focus goes to motorists, pedestrians are typically in the most danger when walking around outside in Georgia. When a pedestrian becomes the victim of an accident, they can, and should, pursue a personal injury case if they're hurt. Here's what pedestrians should know about outdoor accidents and pedestrians' rights.
Pedestrians Can Suffer From the Worst Injuries
When a pedestrian has an accident, they're completely exposed to all the possible damage a body can sustain. They have no protection, no seat belts, no cushioning, and nothing to absorb shock. Even if a car hits a person in a crosswalk at very low speeds, that person can suffer from various injuries.
Don't Just Walk It Off
Many pedestrians will simply "walk off" an accident. For example, someone crossing the street can fall backward because a negligent driver stopped short as they crossed. Even if the car barely brushed them, the force can still send them sprawling.
That pedestrian may just stand up, brush themselves off, and keep on walking. The problem is, even with that light brush, the fall could have created subtle soft tissue damage, which can later affect that person's way of life.
Pedestrians Have Rights in Georgia, and Should Exercise Them
People who walk to get where they're going have legal protection. Motorists aren't the only cause of dangers for pedestrians. The businesses, other people, and even the municipality itself must exercise care to keep pedestrians reasonably safe. When negligence occurs, and a pedestrian suffers an injury because of it, the injured party has the right to pursue compensation for their medical bills.
It's up to you to exercise your rights. You will have to gather information from the negligent party, if possible. You will have to do all the following:
- Report the incident
- Seek medical attention
- Pursue a claim
Remember, not all injuries are readily apparent. They're sometimes subtle. If some time goes by, and you realize all your problems started sometime around the day of the accident, then it's possibly too late to do anything about it. So stay proactive about even small accidents that occur when you're out walking or jogging.
Don't Automatically Assume It's Your Fault
There's often an assumption that if anything happens, it's the pedestrian's fault. Maybe you feel like you weren't paying attention, or you tried to cross at the wrong time. The laws are almost never so cut-and-dry. If anything, you can easily figure it out by asking an attorney.
Pedestrians Must Follow the Rules as Well
It's also important for pedestrians to understand some of the laws Georgia has on the books regarding how they and others should behave when on the roads and sidewalks. You should always stay alert and diligent when you're walking or doing anything else close to roads and traffic.
Laws Regarding Pedestrians in Georgia
There are several laws on the books concerning pedestrians. Here are a few examples.
- If there's a sidewalk, you must use it
- If there's no sidewalk, stay to the shoulder or outermost edge of the road
- Walk against traffic, not with it
- If on a road, you must yield to any car
- Always use a crosswalk when one is available
- Obey all traffic control signals
- If not using a crosswalk, you must yield to all vehicles
The onus of traffic safety isn't completely on you. Just as there are rules for pedestrians, there are rules for motorists and others, so even if an accident occurs because of your own negligence, you may only have partial blame.
If you suffer an injury from any accident, no matter how it happened, it's worth it to check with a personal injury attorney in or around Athens, Georgia, who can help you figure out if you have a viable case. Don't make assumptions about your role in the accident. Instead, contact the Law Offices of Wells and McElwee, P.C. for a free consultation.