Pedestrian injuries from car accidents are some of the most debilitating injuries an individual can suffer. When a two-ton automobile strikes a defenseless pedestrian—even at a slow speed—the amount of force imparted on the pedestrian’s body is tremendous. Unfortunately, these highly traumatic and often fatal accidents are also one of the most common in California.
It's estimated that roughly 80,000 people are hit by a car (or other vehicle) while walking here in the United States every year. Locally, that figure isn't any better. In fact, a 2017 study of traffic accidents across the state found that your chances of being struck and killed by a car or truck anywhere in California are roughly 2 in 100,000. That's an increase of 11% in just 6 years. In fact, 1/5, or 20% of all people killed in traffic accidents in California are pedestrians.
Unfortunately, your chances of being hit by a car or truck and suffering injury are sixteen times higher (32 in 100,000). So what about those victims who aren't killed? What about the ones who suffer through physical, emotional, and financial recovery after being injured in a pedestrian accident?
What sort of injuries are they likely to suffer after getting hit by a car and what can be done to help ease their pain?
Drivers are at fault for the majority of pedestrian accidents in California. The law clearly states that a driver has a legal responsibility to watch out for the well-being of people walking along sidewalks and crossing in crosswalks. If a driver strikes a pedestrian who has the right of way, the driver has failed in their legal obligation and can be held liable.
So what are the most common root causes behind these preventable auto vs pedestrian accidents?
And as much as any of these behaviors can rob a driver of their ability to stop in time to avoid striking a pedestrian, that reaction window shrinks even more at dusk and more people are hit by cars after the sun goes down. That's why national data shows that most fatal pedestrian accidents occur between the hours of 6 pm and midnight.
So, what injuries people suffer when hit by a car are the most common ER docs see here in California?
Scientific analysis of crash data shows that the three most common pedestrian injuries from car accidents are:
Among injuries to both the upper and lower extremities, fractures are most common. Indeed, broken bones in the upper and lower leg, the arm, and the hand/wrist area are seen in a significant portion of injurious pedestrian accidents.
While injuries to the spinal column only occur in less than 20% of all pedestrian accidents, they can be among the most serious injuries suffered after getting hit by a car. Indeed, even minor injuries to the spinal column or surrounding tissue can result in life-long disabilities including paralysis.
TBI’s (as they are often called) are also among the least common but most dangerous pedestrian injuries from car accidents. These are often caused when the victim's head comes into contact with the automobile itself or the roadway immediately after the impact. Even mild TBIs can leave a person unable to work, care for themselves, or provide for their families for days, weeks, or even months.
Ranging from minor bruises to severe joint dislocations and internal tearing, soft tissue injuries can cause a whole host of problems after a car accident. These types of injuries often take the longest to heal and can lead to significant pain and suffering. Unlike broken bones which can be splinted and immobilized in a cast, soft tissue injuries must either heal on their own (which can take months) or may require intensive surgical procedures to repair. Sometimes soft tissue injuries are much more serious than they appear to be at first glance. You should always get examined to make sure you don’t have any internal injuries from getting hit by a car.
As is often the case with injurious accidents of almost any sort, elderly individuals and children are not only at the highest risk of being involved and at the highest risk of suffering the most severe injuries. In fact, nearly one-third of children 14 and younger killed in all traffic crashes throughout the country were on foot at the time of the collision. In addition, pedestrians between 10 and 15 years of age have the highest rates of non-fatal pedestrian injuries in The United States.
On the other end of the spectrum, 33% of all pedestrians killed and 7% of all pedestrian involved in non-fatal crashes are 65 and older. Folks in this age group account for 23% of all hospitalizations for traumatic injuries after being hit by a car.
There are several factors that contribute to higher pedestrian/automobile collision rates relating to the age of the victim. These include (but are not limited to):
Any one of these contributing factors can decrease a victim's ability to avoid a collision if a driver fails in their legal duty to be cautious and wary around pedestrians.
When it comes to the increased severity of the pedestrian injuries from car accidents seen at crashes involving the young or the aged, physical frailty is a major contributing factor:
Young children are much smaller than grown adults, have much less body mass to absorb the force of being struck by a car, and haven't yet developed bones strength and muscle town that helps protect a man or woman from the worst types of injuries. Indeed, because of their size, head trauma is one of the most common pedestrian injuries seen after car accidents involving children.
Elderly individuals often suffer from frailty (weakened bones and muscle tone) that can dramatically increase their risk of serious injuries like broken bones and spinal injuries when hit by a car. In addition, elderly individuals often have additional health concerns that can greatly increase their risk of serious injuries including:
Fatal infection is one of the leading contributing factors to deaths in older patients who are injured in pedestrian accidents.
There are many factors that will affect how long and difficult your recovery from injuries when hit by a car will be. Even if you have minor physical injuries when hit by a car, the emotional trauma and suffering you go through can have a debilitating effect on your life and livelihood. That's why you should always treat any injury as serious and don't let the fear of how much an ER visit might cost keep you from looking after yourself.
If you need help during the financial recovery process, hiring a personal injury attorney can help you increase the likelihood of receiving an insurance settlement or court-ordered award. It can also increase the size of that award as well. You should never have to go through the accident recovery process alone.