A man was killed recently when he was struck by a van while he was standing or walking on a Charlotte street late at night. Police said the 24-year-old pedestrian was not near a crosswalk or intersection, and the van driver was not intoxicated and did not appear to have been speeding at the time of the crash.
According to news reports, the young man was pronounced dead at the scene. The van driver was not injured.
Most personal injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. In a car accident case, one of the most important questions is whether the driver acted negligently. Drivers have a duty to others on the road to exercise reasonable care so as to avoid the risk of an accident; when they breach this duty, they act negligently. When negligent drivers cause injury to another person through their negligence, they can be held liable for the damages suffered by the injured.
Negligence is a major issue in pedestrian accident cases, but it can be a complicated question. All drivers know they must stop at stop signs and red lights, and must watch for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, but when a pedestrian is struck outside a designated crosswalk or intersection, a court must ask whether a reasonable driver in the same circumstances would have been able to avoid the accident. The court might ask, for instance, if a driver who was traveling at or below the speed limit at the same time of day or night would have been able to see the pedestrian in time to brake and avoid the accident.
To many readers, these questions may seem strangely detached or removed, but they have serious consequences in the real world. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, about 76,000 pedestrians are injured and almost 5,000 killed every year after being hit by a car or truck. The injured and their families face enormous medical expenses, lost income and other damages. It can make an enormous difference in their lives when they recover compensation for their damages through a personal injury claim.