Serious injuries in pedestrian accidents
In a walking city such as Washington DC, most drivers are used to watching for pedestrians and checking crosswalks before turns. Public awareness campaigns like WMATA’s “Shattered Lives” messaging reminds drivers to stay aware of their surroundings at all times. Measures like these have no doubt reduced the total number of pedestrian accidents involving serious injuries.
However, pedestrian accidents still occur all too frequently, whether due to inattentiveness, a missed crosswalk sign, or any number of other common factors. When they do, the damages can be severe.
When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the injuries are often far more severe than an injury arising from the collision of two vehicles. Unlike vehicle occupants, a person walking across a crosswalk has no seatbelt for restrain, no airbags for protection, and no rigid outer frame to absorb the energy of an impact. Head injuries and broken limbs are much more common in pedestrian accidents.
Traumatic Brain Injury
In many cases, the most severe injury in a pedestrian accident happens not when a vehicle makes contact, but when the pedestrian is thrown to the ground and suffers a head injury. The shock of a head striking concrete can cause concussion, fractures, and internal damage such as hemorrhage, or brain bleeding. One of the most serious brain injuries is a cranial hematoma, where tissue damage under the skull leads to sustained bleeding, creating a pocket of blood that puts pressure on the brain.
Early symptoms of traumatic brain injury can include slurred speech, difficulty walking, unevenly-dilated pupils, or blurred vision. Any strange or unfamiliar sensations, like numbness, tingling, or unexplained smells can also indicate brain injury. No matter how a person feels at the time, head injuries are serious and should be a reason to seek medical attention immediately.
Head injuries often care permanent and significant long-term effects on an individual’s health and well-being. They can affect memory, cognitive ability, physical dexterity, and even personality. Accounts exist of individuals who suffered head injuries and subsequently seemed like “completely different” people.
Another serious injury resulting from pedestrian accidents involves the increased risk of broken limbs. Most car accidents at low speed do not cause broken limbs unless a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt or is at an uncommon posture at the moment of impact, but in a pedestrian accident, limbs can easily be caught at vulnerable angles. Cohen & Cohen
Fractures of large bones usually result either from the initial impact, from a limb that is caught against the ground, or from landing when a person is thrown by a collision. For example, if the car is moving quickly enough, the mere contact with an arm or leg may cause a fracture as momentum is transferred rapidly. This can also cause fractures at a joint if the limb moves too quickly. If a person is struck with a foot planted on the ground, the leverage can easily break even the strongest bones in the body. Finally, wrist and arm fractures are common when an individual tries to break a fall after being struck by a vehicle.
Whether large or small, injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident can be serious and life-altering. Getting medical bills paid for and being compensated for pain and suffering often requires the services of an expert pedestrian accident attorney.