Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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Good Samaritan laws protect those who provide safety to others during dangerous situations or necessary rescue. Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law protects people from liability if they meet certain conditions. These laws stem from public policy considerations that those who voluntarily perform care in emergencies outside of a medical setting should be immune from liability in most situations. Generally, the law protects from negligence lawsuits against good Samaritans; however, these individuals still maintain their right to sue for personal injury or wrongful death in most scenarios.

Tennessee good Samaritan law protects those giving aid in an emergency without financial gain and so long as they act in good faith. Good faith generally includes situations where a person holds a reasonable opinion that the immediacy of situations requires them to render aid or care. The law does not define precisely what constitutes an “emergency.” However, in most cases, life-threatening situations fall under that umbrella. The law applies to the general public and certain medical providers providing emergency care at an accident scene.

Good Samaritans often put themselves in precarious positions to provide care, safety, and rescue to those in imminent danger. In some situations, these helpers can sustain serious injuries or even death in their effort to aid another. For instance, national news reports described a tragic accident involving a Tennessee good Samaritan. According to reports, the 22-year-old man was on his way to church when he stopped to help a driver involved in an accident. The man parked his vehicle and approached the car accident victim. While rendering aid, another driver slammed into the man’s unoccupied vehicle, which was pushed into him. Tragically the man died from his injuries, leaving behind a one-month-old daughter and wife.

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Car and pedestrian accidents in Knoxville are much more likely now that the sun sets earlier in Daylight Saving Time. With the time change, we get more evening hours, increasing the increased risks of accidents. Unfortunately, drivers’ abilities behind the wheel are hindered when it’s dark out. Even though only about a quarter of travel takes place during the evening hours, about half of all fatal accidents occur during this time. Most drivers don’t alter their driving skills after the sun sets like they should. Motorists oftentimes have a misconception of roadway dangers simply because they can’t see them. Whether you’re traveling on foot, on a bike or in a motor vehicle, you’re urged to be extra cautious on our roadways especially after dusk.

Our Knoxville car accident lawyers want you to realize that even drivers with perfect vision experience a decrease in visibility as the sun sets. The eye works harder because it has less to focus on. Many times, the eye will focus on the glare on the windshield, which can pose serious problems because a driver isn’t getting the full picture. It’s important for drivers to keep scanning their surroundings while driving at night and not to get locked on to one object.

There were more than 4,000 pedestrians killed and another 59,000 injured in traffic-related accidents in the U.S. in 2009. About a quarter of the fatalities occurred between 4 and 8 p.m., while another 13 percent happened between 4 and 8 a.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Many drivers have a difficult time adjusting to these new low-light conditions and need to slow down to be able to effectively react to roadways dangers. The darker it is, the less time you have to react to a potential threat or a pedestrian.

Safety tips for motorists to prevent a potentially fatal accident:

-Slow down. Pedestrians are more difficult to spot when it’s dark out.

-Remember that some pedestrians wear headphones during their walk. This can make it more difficult to hear you approaching. Don’t assume they know you’re there.

-Keep your mirrors, windshield and windows clean to help maximize visibility.

-Keep your windshield wiper fluid filled to help clean windows when needed.

Safety tips for pedestrians to prevent a potentially fatal accident:

-You should either carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing to help to increase your visibility during the evening hours.

-Never depend on traffic lights or signals. Drivers can miss these devices or disregard their instruction, putting you in a dangerous situation. Travel defensively.

-Always cross the road at a crosswalk or a street corner. Never jaywalk or cross in between two parked cars.

-Always use the sidewalk when one’s available. If there’s no sidewalk, then walk on the side of the street facing oncoming traffic.
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The life of a local competitive bicycle racer completely changed on day after a speeding vehicle, traveling on Foothills Parkway, collided with the his left leg and sent him 50 feet through the air, according to Knox News. The rider suffered a number of fractures from the Knoxville bicycling accident. He doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to ride again.

Our Tennessee injury attorneys believe that the punishments for these types of accidents are not often tough enough. Currently, the most severe punishment that a driver faces for injuring a bicyclist is a Class C misdemeanor. This is really only for violating a state law that says that motorists must give cyclists a safe passing zone of at least three feet on all roadways. The penalties for a Class C misdemeanor in this case are merely a $50 fine and 30 days behind bars.

But that’s not the case for much longer. A stricter statewide law will be taking effect that will make these incidents a class A misdemeanor. The amended law, sponsored by Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, would make the penalty for distracted driving accidents that result in bicyclist or pedestrian injury a maximum of a year in jail, a $500 fine and revocation of a driver’s license.

“We’re trying to make sure rules of road apply to everyone whether on a bicycle or in a vehicle,” Berke said.

Accidents that seriously injure or kill a bicyclist or a pedestrian could mean jail time six months, revocation of the violator’s driver’s license for up to six months and a $250 fine. It’s at least a start.

The law was first drafted back in February by Bike Walk Tennessee, a statewide organization advocating for bicyclist and pedestrian rights. The organization started drafting the law after discovering a number of reports of bicyclists and pedestrians who were killed by drivers.

“We’ve seen people get run over and killed with no consequences. This law brings criminal consequences and increases the possibility of having a civil lawsuit as well,” said Caroline Cooley, a Knoxville member of the board of directors for Bike Walk Tennessee.

The law aims to tackle a common excuse of vehicular homicide: “I didn’t see you.”

“I didn’t see you means I took the driver’s course and got my driver’s license but I didn’t understand what the ramifications of getting behind the wheel could really mean,” says Competitive Knoxville bicycle racer Steve Hancock.

After the accident, Hancock spent more than a month in the hospital undergoing physical therapy. He moved back to South Knoxville in June. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair now. reports that nearly 5,500 people were killed in the United States in 2009 because of accidents that involved a distracted driver. Another 448,000 people were injured in these incidents. Nearly 20 percent of these accidents reported the use of a cell phone as the main contributor to driver distraction. Motorists who use hand-held devices behind the wheel are four times as likely to get into an accident that causes serious injury.

“Distracted driving is a huge issue these days as we have more and more electronic devices taking up our lives. Motorists need to understand this,” said Kelley Segars, Metropolitan Planning Commission’s bicycling coordinator.
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Tennessee car accidents are on the rise after five years of decline, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Authorities are particularly concerned about a significant increase in the number of Tennessee pedestrian accidents. A Knoxville personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights in the wake of a serious or fatal car accident in Maryville, Knoxville or elsewhere in Tennessee. The number of serious and fatal accidents have begun to trend upward in the Midwest in response to the improving economy.

The number of motorists killed on Tennessee roads increased last year to 1,030, from the 986 reported in 2009.

“It is important that we remain vigilant in protecting our roadways and reducing fatal and injury crashes in Tennessee,” said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “Safer highways and byways is one of our top priorities. With enforcement initiatives to detect and remove impaired drivers from the roadways to education programs that focus on increasing safety belt usage, the Highway Patrol is making every effort to ensure the public’s safety and to save lives.”

Even with the increase, Tennessee posted the second-lowest number of deaths since 1963. Since 2004, traffic fatalities have declined by 23 percent, including a 45 percent reduction in ATV accidents, a 56 percent reduction in Tennessee bicycle accidents and a 48 percent reduction in Tennessee trucking crashes.

“There are some positive trends developing with fewer fatalities in several areas, including a decrease in fatal crashes involving a teen driver which dropped by over 50 percent since 1999,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “Our goal, with the support of local law enforcement agencies and highway safety advocates, is to continue making a positive impact on Tennessee roads.”

Drunk driving crashes in Tennessee have also decline, while seat belt usage has improved significantly since enactment of the state’s primary enforcement law. A total of 303 fatalities were the result of drunk driving crashes in Tennessee last year.

“Unfortunately, far too many Tennesseans get behind the wheel of a car under the influence of alcohol and too many people still do not buckle up,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “There are no excuses. Drinking and driving is a crime, and wearing your seat belt takes two seconds and is the single most effective way to protect you in a crash. State Troopers are committed to enforcing the law and educating motorists, one stop at a time.”
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Doctors agree that we have become too sedentary in our lives so we should get out there and exercise to reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease. Unfortunately, walking and biking, traditionally used as forms of exercise, are proven to be almost as deadly when using streets that are dangerous by design. Or when encountering negligent or careless drivers.

Our pedestrian accident attorneys in Knoxville and Maryville know such accidents frequently cause serious or fatal injuries each year and could be prevented by better design, and drivers who show pedestrians and bicyclists the proper respect on the road.

Transportation for America posted a study on preventable pedestrian deaths due to dangerous roads. Each year, almost 5,000 people die an avoidable death due to injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident. In 2007-08, more than 40% of pedestrians who were fatally injured were in an area where no crosswalk was accessible.

The passage of SAFETEA-LU in 2005 brought over 30% increases to federal transportation funding to states. Yet, no state spends more than 5% of federal funds available to enhance crosswalks, sidewalks, multi-use paths, or other features aimed at reducing the risks of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.

Memphis ranked in the top 5 most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking in 2007-08. Tennessee as a whole reported a total of 134 pedestrian fatalities in 2007-08 according to the Transportation for America study.

In 2007-08, the pedestrian danger index (a formula using the average fatality rate and the amount of pedestrians who walk to work) showed a higher risk of walking in most metropolitan areas than the national average at 52.1. Some of the named cities and rankings in the index were: Knoxville (54.5), Nashville (70.2), and Memphis (137.7). Tennessee reported 1.08 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in 2007-08, while the U.S. average was 1.53.

It is alarming to see how little money was spent in 2005-2008 on pedestrian projects when compared to the federal funding that was available. The study reported that Tennessee spent 2.4% of the $2.45 billion available for pedestrian safety during this time frame. This equates to about $2.37 per person.

Moving forward, the study suggests holding states more accountable for improvements.

-Local governments need to ensure new roadways are designed with safety for pedestrian, bicyclists, and drivers in mind.

-Federal funding should be spent on saving lives as well as getting everyone more active.

-Unsafe roadways should be redesigned so that they are fit to accommodate walkers or bicyclists.

Accidents happen but preventable deaths are inexcusable no matter how you try to justify them.
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The end of daylight savings time brings darkness to the afternoon commute and increases the risk of Tennessee pedestrian accidents and car accidents in Knoxville and the surrounding area.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that dark commutes increase the risk of accidents as the clocks go back an hour and the seasons change. About 40 percent of all fatal pedestrian accidents occur around dusk or dawn — with 1 in 4 fatalities occurring between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m.

Cites across the nation are struggling with the issue of pedestrian safety — Nashville just conducted a week-long awareness campaign in September. As residents have turned to walking in greater numbers — whether for recreation, fitness or economics — the risk of serious or fatal accidents continues to climb.

The government reports that a pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident every two hours and someone is injured every 8 minutes. In 2008, a total of 4,378 pedestrians were killed and more than 69,000 were injured. Tennessee pedestrian accidents killed 60 people that year.

The government offers the following safety tips for pedestrians and motorists:

-Slow down. Darkness increases reaction time.
-Don’t assume a pedestrian can hear you.
-Keep windshield and mirrors clean and in good repair. Make sure windshield fluid is full and that wipers and defrosters are working properly.

-Carry a flashlight and use reflective tape or wear reflective clothing.
-Don’t depend on traffic signals to keep you safe.
-Avoid jaywalking. Don’t cross between parked cars.
-Walk facing traffic.
-Use sidewalks whenever possible.
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