Massachusetts pedestrian accidents up 8.6 percent in 2016

Car accidents that led to pedestrian fatalities are up throughout the country, including here in Massachusetts.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released preliminary data on pedestrian fatalities in the United States. The organization notes that there was an 11 percent increase nationally in these tragic accidents in 2016 compared to data from 2015. Arguably more concerning is the fact that the average of pedestrian deaths due to car accidents from 2010 to 2015 is up by 25 percent.

The GHSA broke the data down by state as well. Although Massachusetts did not meet the national average, it did still see an increase. The state reported an 8.6 percent increase in fatal pedestrian traffic accidents in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015.

A recent article by CNN discussed the trend, noting one of the authors of the report found the data was "unprecedented and, quite honestly, shocking." This is not just any researcher making these comments. The statement comes from Richard Retting, a professional within the highway safety field for over three decades.

What is responsible for the increase in pedestrian traffic fatalities?

The authors of the report note that many factors contribute to these fatalities. Economic conditions, weather and the demographics of the area are all examples that were taken into account during this study. The study also points to the growing use of smartphones playing a significant role in distracting drivers as a more recent contributing factor that was not as prevalent in 2010.

What laws are present in Massachusetts to protect pedestrians?

In most cases, Massachusetts state law requires drivers yield the right of way to pedestrians. Violation of these laws can result in an investigation potentially leading to criminal and civil penalties. It is also illegal in the state to use a mobile phone or handheld device to text while driving. The state legislature is considering proposals that would expand these restrictions to include other uses of smartphones while driving.

Pedestrians injured in these types of car crashes may be able to recover the costs associated with the accident through a personal injury lawsuit. The claim often involves allegations that the driver was negligent. This generally requires the injured party establish that the driver owed a legal duty to the pedestrian, failed to meet this duty, this failure caused the accident and the accident resulted in the injury. Various pieces of evidence and expert testimony are often used to establish this claim.

Victims of these accidents can increase the likelihood of a successful claim by seeking legal counsel. An attorney can review the details of the accident, determine what types of evidence are needed to support the claim and help you decide if you should pursue the claim.