Pedestrian Accidents Caused by Failure to Leave Adequate Room When Passing

Walking is a great form of physical exercise, an often fun activity, and a healthy, environmentally friendly means of transportation. When individuals walk near the roadways, however, they face numerous potential hazards. Pedestrian accidents had been on the decline for decades, a decrease attributed to increasing awareness on the part of motorists and pedestrians as to pedestrian safety concerns. However, beginning in 2010, the number of pedestrians injured or killed in accidents involving motor vehicles has risen dramatically. This increase is particularly alarming and confounding because it comes at a time when overall traffic safety has improved and fatalities across most categories have decreased.

Today, across the U.S., approximately 5,000 pedestrians are killed in collisions with motor vehicles and another 80,000 injured. In Maine, there have been 1,358 crashes involving pedestrians in the past five years and 50 fatalities.

One of the most common causes of accidents involving pedestrians is the motorist’s failure to leave adequate room while passing the pedestrian. Driving too close to a pedestrian can result in the following:

  • The vehicle may inadvertently hit the pedestrian
  • The pedestrian may become frightened and accidently walk into the oncoming vehicle
  • The pedestrian may not hear the approaching motorist and may swerve
  • The pedestrian could become injured while attempting to move out of the motorist’s way
  • The vehicle’s side view mirror may hit the pedestrian

In each of these scenarios, the potential for serious injury to the pedestrian exists. Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable of people on the roadways. They lack any protection, such as air bags or helmets. Accordingly, even a seemingly minor accident involving a pedestrian can lead to the following serious injuries:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Lacerations and bruising
  • Death
Maine’s Laws Concerning Passing a Pedestrian

Recognizing the serious potential for danger in a motorist passing a pedestrian, Maine enacted several pedestrian safety laws intended to protect pedestrians. Under ME-29-A MRS § 2056, pedestrians are instructed to walk on sidewalks when practicable. When sidewalks are not available, the pedestrian should walk facing approaching traffic on the left side of the road or the shoulder when practicable.

All motorists passing a pedestrian shall exercise due care, leaving at least a 3 foot distance between the motor vehicle and the pedestrian. A motorist can pass a pedestrian in a no-passing zone only when it is safe to do so. In addition to the above safety regulations, Maine law also sets out a due care requirement, which states that all operators of motor vehicles shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian and should give a warning horn if necessary. Proper caution should be exercised when a motorist observes a child pedestrian, or an incapacitated or intoxicated adult.

Establishing the Negligence of the Motorist

When a motorist fails to abide by the 3 foot passing rule, and a pedestrian is injured as a result, the pedestrian may have a viable personal injury claim. In all personal injury claims, the injured pedestrian must establish the motorist acted negligently. Here, where the motorist violated a Maine safety law, negligence can often be established.

Negligent motorists may be held liable for the injured pedestrian’s past medical bills, future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of enjoyment, and more.

Peter Thompson & Associates: Protecting Injured Pedestrians in Maine

At Peter Thompson & Associates, we have successfully represented countless pedestrians injured on Maine roadways. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate attorney team will zealously champion the rights of all injured pedestrians, leading you towards a full recovery. Call us today at 1 800.804.2004 to schedule an initial consultation.

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