The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) rightly touts the benefits of walking as a form of exercise and as a practical, inexpensive way to commute to work and school. After all, “walking can improve personal and environmental health, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance one’s quality of life.” In Seattle, pedestrian traffic continues to increase.
Unfortunately, and despite the fact that every one of us is a pedestrian virtually every day, walking on and around Seattle streets comes with significant dangers. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) reports that between 2005 and 2016, the number of pedestrian traffic fatalities trended upwards. That trend seems to have held in Seattle in 2017, with 11 pedestrian traffic fatalities and 62 pedestrian serious injuries that year.
If Seattle-area pedestrian traffic accident has left you injured or mourning the tragic loss of a loved one, then you may have legal rights to damages as compensation for your losses. Contact the compassionate, dedicated pedestrian accident attorneys at Boohoff law today to learn more.
Why Choose Boohoff Law’s Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and her team of experienced lawyers at Boohoff Law have a long combined track record of success, having represented clients in a wide range of personal injury matters, including those who fell victim to pedestrian accidents. For more than a decade, Boohoff Law operated out of offices in Florida. In 2019, the firm moved its operations to Seattle, bringing with it a well-earned reputation as a fierce and determined advocate for injured victims in and out of state and federal courts. The Boohoff Law team takes special pride in its focus on client service and its responsiveness to client needs.
Attorney Boohoff is a graduate of Boston University School of Law, a top-ranked institution that trains some of the very best litigators in the country. Under her leadership, Boohoff Law concentrates its efforts exclusively on representing clients who have suffered significant injuries or have had a loved one taken from them in a tragic accident.
About Pedestrian Accidents
There is no sugar-coating the devastation a pedestrian accident can inflict. When a motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian, the pedestrian loses every time. Many pedestrians die from their injuries in these accidents. Those who survive frequently face a life cruelly transformed by new and painful challenges and disabilities. When someone else’s carelessness or recklessness is to blame for that suffering, injured pedestrians and their loved ones need strong, aggressive, capable legal representation to protect and pursue their rights in and out of court.
Common Characteristics of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents usually stem from a combination of environmental factors and behaviors on the part of drivers and pedestrians. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects data about fatal pedestrian accidents nationwide, offering the public an important perspective on where, when, and how pedestrian accidents occur.
Where. According to the NHTSA data, the majority of cycling fatalities happen in urban areas and on roads or at intersections. A significant number of the pedestrian accidents that occur in Seattle happen in the Pike Place, Downtown, First Hill, and Pike Pine areas, although pedestrians are at risk all over the city.
When. The national data show that 75 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur when it is dark, with most happening in the evening or before midnight. In Seattle, three-quarters of pedestrian collisions happened at intersections, and usually in a marked cross-walk.
How. National and WTSC data show that driver distraction and alcohol use constitute significant factors in fatal pedestrian traffic accidents. Although men account for a large portion of the victims of pedestrian accidents nationally, that distinction disappears in Seattle, with all residents equally at risk of a pedestrian traffic accident according to 2017 statistics. In the bulk of these Seattle accidents, the driver was driving straight or making a left turn.
The prevalence of pedestrian accidents at Seattle intersections, in marked crosswalks, reflects the growing risk of distraction for pedestrians on American roadways. As smartphone use has exploded over the past decade, drivers and walkers alike find themselves engrossed in their screens at moments when their attention should be elsewhere. Crosswalks, in theory, should be safe spaces for pedestrians, and yet their danger to pedestrians suggests just how common it is for one or more people involved in a pedestrian traffic accident to be distracted.
The team at Boohoff law wants to remind you: distracted driving is illegal in Washington State, and distracted walking in crosswalks can be deadly. Please exercise caution when using your screens while moving!
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrian traffic accidents are often fatal, because of how vulnerable pedestrians are to an impact with a vehicle and/or the road surface. Pedestrians lucky enough to survive a traffic accident may nevertheless face a lifetime of disabling injuries and pain. There is no limit to the trauma a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle can cause, but some of the more common injuries pedestrians sustain in these accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries resulting in long-term impairment, coma, or limited consciousness;
- Spinal cord injuries that cause partial or total paralysis, leaving victims unable to walk or move;
- Crushed or traumatically amputated limbs, particularly if the vehicle runs over the pedestrian;
- Extreme lacerations from sliding along the road surface, which can cause disfigurement and require lengthy and painful surgery and rehabilitation;
- Broken bones and orthopedic injuries, especially injuries to extremities that twist in, or brace for, impact; and
- Severe internal and soft tissue damage resulting from the violent force of a collision between a human and a vehicle.
Pedestrian accident injuries may heal in the long-term, but many do not. Full recovery for many pedestrian accident victims means a lifetime of physical therapy and ongoing care. When a Seattle pedestrian accident attorney pursues damages on behalf of a client injured as a pedestrian, one of the attorney’s most important tasks is to investigate the severity of the injuries and their prognosis for full recovery, so as to make sure client recovers adequate funds from legally liable parties to cover long-term medical needs.
Common Parties With Legal Liability for Pedestrian Accidents
How a pedestrian accident happens and the type of injuries it inflicts are just two of the many issues an experienced Seattle pedestrian accident attorney must contend with in representing her injured client. Another important job is to figure out who owes damages to the injured pedestrian. The attorney will typically conduct an investigation to identify every person and entity with potential legal liability. Some of those may be obvious from the circumstances of an accident, but many are less so. In a typical pedestrian accident case in Seattle, the parties with potential legal liability to the injured pedestrian may include:
Motorists. Obviously, Seattle drivers have a duty to drive in a manner that keeps pedestrians safe and yields the right of way to them in nearly every circumstance. A driver who enters a Seattle intersection distracted by a phone, or speeding, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, will likely face legal liability to a pedestrian in a collision (not to mention criminal liability for violating Washington law).
Commercial/governmental vehicle operators. If a commercial or municipal entity operates the vehicle that strikes a pedestrian, that entity may have legal liability for its driver’s negligent or reckless actions.
Government road agencies and their contractors. Local and state governments, and their private contractors, have a duty to design and maintain safe public streets in and around Seattle. That duty includes keeping city streets and intersections safe for pedestrians by designing intersections with logical traffic flows, clear sight lines, and well-marked, well-located crossings. When a state or municipal entity fails in this task, and a pedestrian gets hurt, the entity may have legal liability.
Bars and restaurants. When the car of a driver operating under the influence of alcohol hits a pedestrian, the bar or restaurant that served the driver may have liability for the pedestrian’s injuries if, in serving the driver, the bar or restaurant violated the State’s dram shop law.
This is hardly a complete list. The circumstances of every pedestrian accident differ based on their time, location, and the parties involved. To make sure you identify every party who may have liability to you for injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident, the smart decision is to retain an experienced Seattle pedestrian accident attorney with the know-how to spot all of the potential sources of liability in your particular case.
Common Damages for Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Washington State law gives victims of pedestrian accidents and, in the case of a fatal accident, their representatives, the right to take legal action seeking compensation for their injuries and losses. Lawyers call these compensatory damages, and they fall into two broad categories in Washington: economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.
Economic damages compensate an accident victim for fixed, identifiable costs tied to the accident and the injuries it caused. They include:
- Un-reimbursed medical bills;
- Chronic or long-term care costs;
- Assistive medical devices and home modifications;
- Physical therapy;
- Lost wages from time off from work while recovering; and
- Lost income or employment opportunity due to injuries and disabilities.
Parties with legal liability for causing injuries may have the right to pay economic damages in installments according to Washington law.
Non-economic damages compensate a pedestrian accident victim for so-called subjective injuries that are more difficult to value. They can include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Damage to personal relationships (a.k.a. loss of consortium/companionship/parent-child relationship); and
- Negative impacts on quality of life.
In contrast to many other jurisdictions around the country, Washington State caps non-economic damages at 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the pedestrian’s life expectancy at the time of the collision (which cannot be less than 15 years). Washington law also generally bars a court from awarding punitive damages.
Start Working With a Seattle Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
Pedestrian accidents cause catastrophic injuries and turn their victims’ lives upside down. Recovering physical and emotional health after a pedestrian accident is difficult enough without having to worry about financial strain and interacting with insurance adjusters and law enforcement who want to know what happened.
At Boohoff Law, we know how difficult this moment is for you and your family. Seeking legal representation is probably not your top priority. Still, it’s important to know that the sooner you consult with a skilled, experienced lawyer about your pedestrian accident, the better your chances will be of obtaining the compensation you so deserve.
In Washington State, the general statute of limitations on personal injury claims is three short years. Lawyers know just how quickly that time can pass. Pedestrian accidents frequently involve complicated facts, particularly when it comes to the victim’s medical prognosis. Investigating those cases takes time, as does making sure that every party with potential liability has been identified. What’s more, evidence that could provide insight into a pedestrian accident has a way of disappearing as time passes, and witnesses memories also fade. The time to start investigating your pedestrian accident is now.
One thing is certain: insurance companies whose policyholders may have liability to you are already working hard to try and minimize their financial exposure. You may have heard from one or more of them already, asking you to give a statement or dangling a settlement offer. Before you speak with any of them, consult with an experienced Seattle pedestrian accident attorney who knows your rights and the magnitude of damages you should expect to receive.
Struck by a Vehicle While Walking? Call Boohoff Law Seattle Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Now
Boohoff Law is a team of lawyers who are proud to call Seattle home. We love walking the city’s streets, and we recognize just how difficult it can be to have your life upended while crossing at an intersection.
If you suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area pedestrian traffic accident, call (877) 999-9999 or contact Boohoff Law today to schedule your free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team. We’re here to help in any way we can.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. Tracey and Maria are super sweet. They made me feel right at home. I absolutely recommend Boohooff Law and will use them again in the future if I am ever in a similar situation. Thank you all at Boohooff who helped me with my case. 10/10 stars hands down!”
– Brandy K.