Whether you're driving or walking along the busy streets of big cities like New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Metairie, your life could change instantly.
And it may not even be your fault.
All it takes is another distracted driver or a pedestrian breaking the traffic rules to entirely alter the course of your life. Depending on the accident circumstances, you may be a victim living with pain — or you could be dealing with the courts because a pedestrian is trying to sue you.
In New Orleans, pedestrian accidents are all too common. Louisiana went from the fifth-worst state for pedestrian accidents in 2014 to the fourth-worst state for pedestrian accidents in the country.
So even if you do what you can to take care of your driving, you could still be in harm's way. And if you're a pedestrian, watch out. There are legal and medical steps you need to take to protect your life for either party — and it starts with a capable New Orleans auto accident attorney.
Who is at Fault in a New Orleans Pedestrian Accident?
The common belief is that drivers in a vehicle have an obvious advantage over pedestrians. And they also have a greater responsibility. That's why car drivers are seen as primarily at fault in Louisiana.
Because they're in a large automobile, car drivers are protected from the elements in ways that pedestrians aren't. Secondly, their size and speed can significantly damage property and cause injuries or pain and suffering to people and animals.
Finally, the very act of getting behind a wheel means taking on a “duty to care.” Drivers have a responsibility to pay attention and react to sudden, incoming, and changing elements on the road in a way that preserves the safety of all.
The other unspoken rule at play in a pedestrian accident is right of way. The duty to care means yielding to pedestrians where possible, especially to avoid an accident and personal injury. That's true even if the pedestrian is technically the one who triggered the sequence of events leading to an accident.
Common Causes of New Orleans Pedestrian Accidents
Even though the driver of a motor vehicle is usually (and mostly) at fault, Louisiana has laws designed to protect both parties and determine, fairly, who is truly at fault. If you get into an accident on the streets of New Orleans, it might be for one or more of these common reasons:
- Weather — conditions rain, fog, snow causing reduced visibility
- Nighttime/darkness — an accident caused because the driver could not see the pedestrian
- Failure of a vehicle to yield in time to a pedestrian at an intersection or crosswalk
- The driver of a car driving under the influence
- Distracted driver (due to taking a phone call or texting)
Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that external factors like where a pedestrian is located when the accident occurs or what time they're walking around New Orleans really matters.
The greatest number of injuries occur due to nighttime conditions and on roadways other than at intersections. However, intersection accidents are the second-most common reason for pedestrian injuries due to an accident.
That's why the state of Louisiana uses comparative negligence law, or CC 2323. Here's how it works.
Any pedestrian accident has contributing factors that are part of external issues we can't control. This could be an animal darting out and causing a car to swerve dangerously or the driver being part of a larger accident due to another vehicle's actions.
So it's up to the courts to decide — and pedestrian accident lawyers to prove — how much of the accident a driver and a pedestrian can take responsibility for.
With comparative negligence, a driver could be 50% responsible for the cause of an accident. Still, a pedestrian could be held responsible for the other 50% of the accident because of their own actions.
Can You Sue a Pedestrian?
If there's reason to believe (with evidence) that the pedestrian caused the accident, then they could be at fault. Pedestrian safety laws go both ways.
A pedestrian could be liable for a personal injury to themselves and injuries to the driver because of their actions. And, because of this, a vehicle owner may have legal grounds to sue a pedestrian.
Examples of pedestrian liability come down to their negligence and failure to follow the traffic rules. These include:
- Jaywalking or not crossing the road at the designated crosswalks
- Not following traffic signals
- Walking on roads where pedestrians aren't allowed
- Darting or running out in traffic
As experienced New Orleans pedestrian accident lawyers, we can tell you that there's plenty that pedestrians can do to change the outcome of a dangerous situation. The City of Baton Rouge has specific pedestrian safety requirements that help avoid a case of injuries, including:
- Walking defensively
- Walking facing oncoming traffic
- Crossing streets only at intersections
- Waiting at the intersections for signs and signals and following these
- Exhibiting caution while walking in parking lots
- Avoiding sudden movements into oncoming traffic
- Wearing reflective clothing when walking after dusk
- Not talking on the phone while walking
- Keeping a clear and unobstructed view of traffic (for example, not wearing large hats or using umbrellas that block your vision while walking)
Attorneys that have to prove pedestrian liability must focus on these areas of potential negligence to show how a pedestrian's actions contributed to the case or the injuries that both parties may experience.
To prove pedestrian liability, the law firm you hire will need to consult some of the following resources. If you're a pedestrian involved in an accident, or you're a driver that needs help to prove it wasn't all your fault, try and access these resources for evidence:
- Video footage (such as that from a closed-circuit camera or a traffic camera)
- Photos (such as those taken after an incident)
- Expert testimony (this involves traffic accident experts reconstructing the scene for testimony in court)
High-quality and expert legal representation can help you sort through these details, gain access to valuable evidence, and even reduce the amount of compensation you need to pay — or help pedestrians seek the compensation they're owed.
Call the attorneys at Schwartz Law Firm in Baton Rouge and Metairie for a consultation today.
What Happens If you Hit a Pedestrian in New Orleans?
If you're a driver who has hit a pedestrian, you'll need to stay on the scene until the police arrive. After this point, you should seek medical attention yourself and make sure that the other injured party is also attended to.
Victims of a personal injury such as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury will tell you that, besides seeking immediate medical attention, the first thing they had to do was get legal representation.
Regardless of how severe their injuries, they'll need a lawyer to help them claim:
- Medical expenses
- Physical suffering
- Property damage
- Lost wages, benefits, bonuses, tips
- Emotional or mental distress
- Compensation for physical therapy for the injured party
Even drivers can be victims of injuries sustained in these accidents. Your next course of action is to call us at Schwartz Law firm for a 30-minute consultation about your case.
Get the Best Pedestrian Accident Attorneys in New Orleans Fighting For You
Whether you're the injured party or a loved one was affected because of an unfortunate incident, you deserve the right course of justice. In either situation, you'll need to find a capable car and truck accident lawyer in Metairie and Baton Rouge to fight for your case and protect you. The legal team at Schwartz Law Firm is available 24/7 to serve and see you through this difficult time.
With over two decades of experience litigating personal injury issues in Baton Rouge and Metairie, we know how to gain the compensation you deserve. Our attorney-client relationship focuses on giving you the facts in a clear, honest, and compassionate manner from start to finish. Get Schwartz Law Firm fighting for your rights on your case today.
Contact Schwartz Law Firm for a free consultation and case evaluation to get started right away.