Be Very Careful Crossing The Street

A 53-year-old man died at the scene of a pedestrian-auto crash in Monroe.

The wreck occurred near the intersection of Ticheli Road and U.S. Highway 165. Investigators state that Matthew Davis was crossing the highway from a department store to Ticheli Road, when he was struck by 57-year-old Tharris Bishop, who was northbound on 165 in a Ford Expedition.

This intersection is near an elementary school and known to be extremely busy.

Pedestrian-Auto Crashes

During collisions, vehicle occupants are protected by multiple restraint systems and steel cocoons, but pedestrians and motorcycle riders are essentially defenseless in these cases. This difference helps explain why pedestrian injuries are normally so serious. If the vehicle is travelling less than 25mph, the serious injury rate is only about 10 percent, but that rate skyrockets to roughly 50 percent at 35mph; the serious injury rate is 90 percent at speeds above 45mph.

These incidents are particularly common on semi-rural roads like the one in the above story, because there is more foot traffic than normal and motorists are not looking for pedestrians, a point that will be explored below. When vehicles and pedestrians collide, some of the serious injuries include:

  • Fractures: The broken bones in these incidents nearly always require metal screws or pins to heal, and afterward, there is often weeks or months of physical therapy to regain lost functions.
  • Internal Injuries: When vehicles throw pedestrians onto the ground, internal organs grind against one another and often hemorrhage.
  • Scars: The cuts and abrasions are often so deep that they leave permanent damage behind even when they are fully healed.

Compensation in these cases typically includes money for both economic damages, like lost wages, and noneconomic damages, like loss of enjoyment in life.

Legal Issues

The majority of pedestrian-auto crashes occur outside the crosswalk and/or when the pedestrian is crossing the street against the light, and in these situations, the insurance company almost always tries to invoke the sudden emergency defense. This doctrine forgives negligence if the tortfeasor (negligent driver):

  • Reacted to an unexpected situation, and
  • Behaved reasonably after the emergency.

This scene from the 1995 movie Tommy Boy illustrates both elements of the sudden emergency defense. A hood fly-up is a “sudden emergency” in the legal sense of the phrase, because it is entirely unexpected. Pedestrians crossing against the light or stepping into traffic, while unusual, is not entirely unexpected and therefore not a “sudden emergency.” In the clip, also note that Tommy drives recklessly after the hood flies up, so even if he had a defense, he blew it.

Pedestrians are at high risk for serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Lake Charles, contact Hoffoss Devall. Our firm has a small-town atmosphere and access to nationwide resources.