Pittsburgh Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Each year thousands of pedestrians are injured and killed in traffic accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2009 (the last year in which statistics are available), 4,092 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 59,000 were injured in traffic accidents in the U.S. A pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and another was injured every nine minutes in traffic accidents.
A pedestrian is a person on foot who is walking, running, jogging, hiking, or sitting and is involved in a motor vehicle accident. These types of injuries can change a person’s life forever. They can affect a person’s personality, relationships, social life, and career.
At Chaffin Luhana, our experienced Pittsburgh injury lawyers recognize the devastation caused by serious injuries and have dedicated much of our practice to helping people that are injured by negligence get the compensation they need as they learn to deal with the challenges ahead.
To learn more, schedule a free no-obligation consultation or call us now at 1-888-480-1123.
Pennsylvania Related Pedestrian Accidents
In 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation released a report on the crash facts and statistics for the state. In total, there were 104,475 reported traffic crashes, claiming the lives of 1,129 people and injuring another 61,248.
Though this was the lowest number of reported traffic crashes in Pennsylvania since 1950, it’s still too many. Each day 286 crashes occurred—about 12 every hour—and 3 people were fatally injured. Here are some more details from the report:
- Total: The total number of crashes involving pedestrians dropped from 4,201 in 2016 to 2,831 in 2020. The number of fatalities also dropped from 172 in 2016 to 146 in 2020.
- Location: Over two-thirds (65.8 percent) of pedestrian fatalities and nearly half (47.5 percent) of injuries occurred in areas other than intersections. Non-intersections included mid-block crossings and driveway crossings.
- Road type: The majority of pedestrian fatalities occurred on non-interstate state roadways, while under half of the injuries occurred on local roads.
- Traffic control: Most fatalities and injuries occurred in areas without traffic control devices, such as traffic signals or stop signs.
- Counties: Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the total pedestrian fatalities occurred in only 7 of the state’s 67 counties. These included Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Luzerne, and Allegheny counties.
- Age and sex: The age group with the most pedestrian fatalities included those between 35-39 years of age, and those 75 and older. More than two-thirds (67 percent) were male.
- Light level: The majority of pedestrians were injured in daylight (58.5 percent), but more fatalities occurred at night (74.4 percent).
Types of Pedestrian Accidents in Pittsburgh
When a person is struck by a car or truck, the results are usually disastrous, especially if the vehicle is traveling at high speeds. Injuries are often severe and can include the following.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
This is an injury to the brain that usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. It can range from a minor concussion to a more severe injury that leads to seizures or cognitive problems. In the worst cases, TBIs can cause long-term complications or death.
In a 2019 study, scientists reported that head injury “is one of the most common injury types in vehicle-to-pedestrian collisions, which leads to death and long-term disabilities.” These injuries may occur if the pedestrian’s head strikes the vehicle’s hood, hits the ground, hits the windshield, or impacts another nearby surface.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Damage to the spinal cord can result in paralysis or other debilitating complications. Pedestrians struck by motor vehicles often suffer from these injuries. In a 2008 study of over 1,600 patients who were struck by motor vehicles, 135 (8 percent) were found to have spinal injuries.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center recently reported that vehicle crashes are the most common causes of spinal cord injuries, accounting for 38 percent of them.
Severe Crushing Injuries
These occur when the torso, extremities, or other parts of the body are hit by an external crushing force, such as an automobile. Severe compression can cause muscle injury, broken bones, internal injuries, organ dysfunction, and death. After the release of the crushing force, there may be other complications including swelling, muscle necrosis, nerve dysfunction, and more.
When pedestrians are hit by vehicles, the speed and size of that vehicle can lead to broken bones. Common bones affected include the bones in the legs and arms, facial bones, the skull, breastbone, spinal vertebrae in the back and neck, and the clavicle.
With the popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), these injuries have become more serious. The higher heights of these bumpers can easily cause torn ligaments and broken bones, particularly in the legs and pelvis.
Back and Neck Injuries
Being struck by a motor vehicle often causes back and neck injuries, including cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral injuries. According to a 2008 study, these injuries are more evenly distributed throughout the spinal column and more often coexist with injuries to remote organs when compared to similar injuries suffered by victims inside the vehicles.
A laceration is a cut that goes all the way through the skin. A deep laceration goes even farther through the fat layer or to the muscle layer. These are serious injuries and require stitches to stop the bleeding and reduce scarring. They can cause lasting damage to the tendons, nerves, muscles, and bones. A pedestrian in a car accident may suffer from these lacerations anywhere on the body, from the face down to the legs.
A facial fracture is a broken bone in the face. These may include broken bones in the upper or lower jaw, cheeks, nose and eye sockets, or forehead. Muscles required for chewing, swallowing, and talking are attached to these bones.
Pedestrians may suffer from multiple facial fractures causing irreversible damage. Possible lasting problems include vision problems, an inability to breathe or smell through the nose, damage to the sinuses, and more.
A strong impact to the shoulder can damage the structures in the arm, including the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones. The shoulder is a delicate ball-and-socket joint highly susceptible to damage. Pedestrians hit by a motor vehicle may suffer a torn rotator cuff, shoulder dislocation, broken bone, torn cartilage in the joint, and more.
As noted above, in 2020, over 1,000 people died in Pennsylvania after being struck by a motor vehicle. Often, these incidents occur because of someone’s negligence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in 2017, almost half (47 percent) of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death involved alcohol for the driver and/or the pedestrian. Higher vehicle speeds also increased the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and suffering a severe injury.
How to Select a Pedestrian Attorney in Pittsburgh
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, you need more than a lawyer who has experience in personal injury law. Instead, your attorney should have on-the-job experience handling pedestrian accident cases in your region.
These types of cases come with unique rules, issues, and state and county laws. An attorney with experience will be well versed in all of these and will know what to expect in mediation and court. Feel free to ask your pedestrian accident attorney about any other cases they have handled that were similar to yours, and what their outcomes were.
At Chaffin Luhana, we thoroughly investigate your case, tracking down and interviewing witnesses, gathering photo and video evidence, collecting documents and reports, and crafting a negotiating strategy that works in your favor.
We’re happy to meet with you to go over the details of what happened. We’ll give you the information you need to determine whether you’d like to work with us.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
Over $4 Million Recovery
“I was very pleased with the representation that I received for my case. I had a positive experience with this firm and I would recommend your firm to my family and friends.”
– Judy R., Product Liability Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“I called a couple other firms and they said they wouldn’t take [my case] because of limited tort. Chaffin Luhana did. They’re trying to help you when you’re in pain and I thought that was great. [The firm] called and let [me] know what was going on, like [I was] family.”
– Judy H., Consumer Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with anything like this. In my 70 years, I’ve never had to deal with anything legal. There’s no possible way I could have done it myself.”
– Timothy B., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“I thank the firm for doing such a great job!”
– John W., Personal Injury Client
Find more testimonials here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you are the driver and you accidentally hit a pedestrian—and the incident is determined to be your fault—you will likely owe the pedestrian compensation for their damages. You may be responsible for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Your car insurance will cover much of these costs, but if the damage exceeds your policy limits, you may be personally liable. If it is determined that you were driving recklessly at the time of the accident, you could also face criminal charges.
Pennsylvania has right-of-way laws that protect people at crosswalks if they follow traffic signals. Pedestrians are also protected in driveways, alleyways, and sidewalks that intersect roads or other vehicle-accessible avenues.
It is possible that the pedestrian was at fault, however. They may have been crossing the street illegally, crossing where pedestrian access is prohibited, or ignoring traffic lights or signals. In these cases, the law provides a more limited protection to the pedestrian.
It's also possible for a pedestrian to cause an auto accident, and be held liable. If a driver swerves or stops suddenly to avoid hitting a pedestrian who is on the road illegally, and the driver suffers from serious injuries, the pedestrian may be liable.
Sometimes both the driver and pedestrian will share fault in an accident, in which case the insurance companies will determine liability. Pennsylvania has a modified comparative fault rule that allows liability to be shared.
Check with your pedestrian accident attorney to determine how the law applies to your case.
If you are a pedestrian hit by a vehicle in Pittsburgh, take the following steps:
- If you or another person is severely injured, call 911 immediately.
- Call local law enforcement to the scene of the accident, so that they can prepare a police report.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the driver that hit you.
- Don’t discuss who caused the accident or say anything about who may be at fault, even if you think it was your fault.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, damages to the car that hit you, and anything else that may help support your case. Write down what happened as soon as you can, while it’s still fresh in your memory.
- Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Contact your pedestrian accident attorney.
- Call your insurance company.
While you’re trying to recover from your injuries, trying to handle a pedestrian accident lawsuit at the same time is probably not the best strategy. State and county laws affecting these accidents can be complicated. There may be factors present that you might not think about, such as the driver’s driving history, the location of the accident, and other parties that may share in liability.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer will likely get the driver’s insurance company to come up with a much better offer for you than you could on your own. They, unlike the insurance companies involved, represent your best interests. They can also navigate all the paperwork and deadlines for you so you can concentrate on getting better and putting your life back together.
If the driver is determined to be at fault in the incident, their insurance company will likely pay for your medical expenses. Negligence and traffic laws generally require drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to take steps to avoid hitting anyone on the road.
Not all pedestrian accidents are cut-and-dry, however, meaning that drivers may contest their liability and attempt to place the blame on the pedestrian. This is where evidence like the police report, video footage, photos, and witness statements can help.
If it's clear the driver was at fault, his or her insurance company will likely be willing to settle a claim outside of court. If there is disagreement on fault, an experienced pedestrian accident attorney can work to recover the compensation you deserve.
It’s also possible that the city or town in which the accident took place may share in liability. Perhaps the traffic control devices failed or didn’t work. Maybe the stop sign was knocked down or difficult to see because of brush overgrowth. Maybe the crosswalk was placed in a dangerous location, creating a safety hazard. These are things that your pedestrian accident attorney will look for to help you in your case.
Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative fault rule, which means that your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you are prohibited from recovering any damages. The driver may also file a claim against you for damages to their vehicle or for any injuries they suffered.
Even if you were at fault for the accident, however, because Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, your auto insurance will likely pay for at least some of your medical expenses, depending on your policy limits.
Though there are some situations in which a pedestrian may be found to be totally at fault for the accident, these are rare. In most cases, the driver is also partially at fault. In that case, you can receive compensation from the driver, but your damages award will be reduced by a percentage that is equal to your share of the fault.
As a pedestrian injured in a motor vehicle accident in Pittsburgh, you may be entitled to the following compensation:
- Economic Damages: These are monetary losses that you incurred. They may include medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and funeral or burial expenses, in case of wrongful death.
- Noneconomic Damages: These include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, disfigurement, personal injury, loss of consortium, and loss of comfort, guidance, and support.
- Punitive Damages: In rare cases where the party responsible for the accident was acting maliciously or willfully, these damages may be awarded to punish them.
Whether you will be able to recover these damages depends on the evidence in your case and your attorney’s ability to negotiate in your favor.