By Matt Lalande in Pedestrian Accidents on January 12, 2021
Anytime a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, serious injuries are a significant risk. Pedestrians do not have safety equipment or protection against the mass and velocity of a motor vehicle, which renders them extremely vulnerable. Even if the vehicle is travelling at a low speed, the impact can still be severe enough to cause catastrophic injuries.
Children and elderly pedestrians are the most likely populations to be involved in pedestrian accidents. However, any pedestrian is vulnerable to being hit by a car. Statistics show that from 2009 to 2017, at least 280 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents every year. This number goes as high as 346 in 2016. This number does not include the number of individuals who survive pedestrian accidents with severe injuries.
When an individual is struck by a motor vehicle, they may become crushed under the vehicle, fall to the ground, fall into another object, or fall onto the hood or windshield of the vehicle. The type of collision may determine the severity and type of injury the pedestrian suffers. Additionally, the faster the vehicle is travelling, the more dangerous and severe the injuries will be.
Brain injuries are among the most common type of injury an individual may suffer in a pedestrian accident. Generally, this is caused when a blow to the head causes the brain to suddenly jolt and collide with the skull, causing the brain tissue to become damaged. In some cases, pieces of the skull can break in the process and puncture the brain itself.
Traumatic brain injuries can have permanent, long-term consequences and complications resulting in brain damage and impaired cognitive function. They can also result in disability, seizures, altered personality, chronic pain, early onset Alzheimer’s, and even death.
Pedestrian accidents commonly involve head injuries as the sudden and unexpected force of the collision prevents the individual from properly bracing or protecting their head. The brain is vulnerable as it is only protected by the skull, and most pedestrians are not wearing protective equipment.
A spinal cord injury can be significantly catastrophic and lead to permanent paralysis, with overwhelming physical and emotional consequences and challenges for the victim. In one study, approximately 8% of pedestrians who were struck by motor vehicles suffered from some type of spinal cord injury. The sudden impact of a metal vehicle can cause significant distress to the body, and the spinal cord is an extremely vulnerable area.
The spinal cord, which extends down the back from the neck to the buttocks, is responsible for sending signals from the brain to the nerve systems in the body. When it suffers damage from physical trauma, nerve signals become interrupted and cannot travel from the brain to their intended path. This can cause various functions to be limited, including mobility, sensation, and physical pain receptors.
Spinal cord injury victims require a lifetime of ongoing care and rehabilitation. They must adjust to an entirely new lifestyle including the use of assistive devices such as wheelchairs and in-home elevators. These treatments and devices can have significant costs.
Another common type of injury that occurs after pedestrian accidents are various internal injuries. These injuries are not necessarily visible on the outside and may not show any symptoms immediately after the accident. There are five common types of internal injuries an individual may suffer:
Broken ribs: Broken or fractured ribs are common in pedestrian accidents because they are caused by a significant blow to the chest. Many vehicles sit at a height that can crush this area upon impact.
Collapsed lung: When a rib cage is broken, the chances of a collapsed lung are high. The rib cage is what protects the lungs. Therefore, when a rib is fractured or broken, it can easily puncture a lung, causing air to escape and limiting function.
Internal bleeding: Generally, the weight of a motor vehicle can crush a pedestrian, especially when they are pushed or pinned into another object, such as a barrier or tree. Internal bleeding is caused by damaged blood vessels, and when it is not controlled, it can be fatal or cause permanent organ damage.
Organ Damage: When the body suffers a substantial blow from a motor vehicle, there is a strong chance of soft tissue and organ damage from the impact. If an organ is severely damaged, it can completely shut down and stop functioning.
Ruptured Spleen: The spleen is located in the abdomen, and is vital for the body’s blood circulation and for fighting off infection. When an individual takes a forceful blow to the stomach area, such as from the hood of a vehicle, the spleen can become ruptured and cause immediate and substantial internal bleeding.
Due to the shape and design of the hood of a car, reaching the hip area of many individuals, pelvic injuries are a common result of pedestrian accidents. Being struck from the side of the body, such as when an individual is crossing the street, can have a direct impact on the pelvis, as the pelvic muscles are weakest in this area.
A pelvic fracture has a high fatality rate as it can cause punctures to important arteries that run through the pelvis, resulting in severe nerve damage. Victims who survive pelvic fractures may experience permanent damage to sensory or motor functions and could become paralysed.
Broken and fractured bones are common in pedestrian accidents, as the external force of the motor vehicle can be enough to cause damage. Under too much pressure, a bone can snap or crack. Any bone in the body can be vulnerable to breaks, tears, and fractures. While a broken or fractured bone can heal over time, more severe cases may take a substantial amount of recovery time. Children and elderly victims are particularly susceptible to broken and fractured bones, as bones in children are often not completely developed and elderly individuals may be suffering from deteriorating bone conditions such as osteoporosis. Torn ligaments often occur alongside bone breaks and fractures. The ligaments are areas of tissue that connect the bones within the body, such as in the knees and ankles. In some cases, surgery is required to repair torn ligaments and full recovery could take as long as a year.
When an individual is struck by a vehicle and comes into forceful contact with a sharp object, such as broken glass from a windshield, serious lacerations could occur. A laceration is a wound or cut that occurs on the surface of the skin, and can penetrate through multiple layers of skin.
Lacerations can be severe and lead to dangerous complications if they do not heal properly. They can cause permanent disfigurement and scarring. Pedestrians may also suffer amputation injuries as a result of a car accident. If a laceration becomes infected and is damaged beyond the point of repair, it may need to be amputated. Additionally, the impact of the vehicle could crush a victim’s toes, fingers, or extremities to the point where they cannot be repaired and must be amputated.
The impact of a vehicle can cause an individual to be thrown into other objects or forcefully onto the sidewalk or road, causing severe burns and road rash. Third degree road rash can cause considerable permanent damage and may require a skin graft. Facial trauma or disfigurement is a significantly damaging injury for an individual to undergo, and can cause a significant amount of psychological distress. The face is not easily covered and is open for all to see, which can lead to self-consciousness, negative body image, and low self-esteem. Additionally, the cost to repair an individual’s face after it has suffered from trauma, scarring, and disfigurement can be extensive and is not always covered by OHIP.
Due to the vulnerability and lack of protection pedestrians have, wrongful death is a tragic yet common consequence for a pedestrian accident. Some individuals may be killed on site, while others may succumb to their injuries after being taken to the hospital. When an individual is killed in a motor vehicle accident, their close family members have the right to sue the negligent driver for compensation and funeral costs.
If you or a loved one has suffered substantial, life-changing injuries or wrongful death in a pedestrian accident, you are entitled to seek a maximum settlement for compensation. Our team of Hamilton pedestrian accident lawyers have been assisting victims throughout Ontario for over 15 years, assisting them in obtaining the highest settlement possible. Book a free consultation with us by calling 905-333-8888 today or send us an email through out contact form. Each consultation is free with no up front charges and no obligation to retain our firm. If you are too injured to travel, we will come to you.
*The above information was approved by Matt Lalande or another lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. The information comes from legal experience, trial experience, extensive medical research and discussion with medical professionals, medical journal review and updates and/or consultations with fellow friends and colleagues in the legal and medical field.