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Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Whether through negligence, speeding, or impaired driving, pedestrians fall victim to automobile accidents far too often. According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), pedestrian fatalities accounted for 16 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in Rhode Island during a calculated ten-year period. There are any number of causes for pedestrian accidents, but the end result is often severe injury or even death for the person hit by the car. Some of these accidents are due to ill-fated circumstances, like adverse weather. However, commonly, the cause of a pedestrian accident is completely preventable and due to driver negligence. In these cases, the victim, or family of the victim, can take legal action against the driver that struck the person. Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer David Tapalian has over 20 years of experience helping victims of pedestrian accidents throughout RI and MA. The skills Attorney Tapalian has acquired through his years of practice as a personal injury attorney make him a top choice for victims of car accidents involving pedestrian injuries.

Negligent Drivers

From 2009 to 2018, pedestrian traffic fatalities increased 53% throughout the U.S. (In comparison, other traffic-related deaths increased by 2%.) There are a multitude of reasons for the upsurge including the increased popularity of large SUV’s and trucks, weather, a rise in cell phone use, and of course, numerous forms of driver negligence and reckless driving, such as driving under the influence.

Drunk Drivers

The majority of incidents in which a driver strikes a pedestrian with a vehicle involve alcohol in some way. When a driver makes the reckless decision to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and consequently collides with a pedestrian, the pedestrian is far more likely to be severely injured than the driver. Sometimes, the intoxicated driver may not be hurt at all and the only victim is the pedestrian. With the help of a Rhode Island personal injury attorney, the driver may be held liable for wrongful injury with a more serious accusation for driving under the influence. Furthermore, in the case of a fatal accident, the victim’s family can make a claim against the driver for wrongful death. With the help of an attorney, family members can properly fight for compensation from the guilty party to help offset medical, burial, and funeral costs.


Another major cause of pedestrian accidents is driving at excessive speeds. If, for example, a vehicle is moving too quickly to safely yield to a pedestrian using the crosswalk in front of them, there is a high risk of collision with the pedestrian, which can result in serious injury or death. The higher the speed of the vehicle at the time of the accident, the more likely it is that the injury sustained by the pedestrian will be more severe, or fatal. According to Rhode Island Law, pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks, meaning that a driver must yield by slowing down or stopping completely to allow the pedestrian to cross safely. When a driver fails to heed this instruction, they subsequently put pedestrians at risk of a crosswalk accident. Any driver who causes an accident involving a pedestrian as a result of violating this law can thus be held legally responsible for the damages done. Trusted Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian can help you with these legal proceedings.

Distracted Drivers

Despite laws in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts prohibiting the use of a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle, the prevalence of drivers using technology increasingly comes into play when investigating the cause of a pedestrian collision. Distracted driving is an ever-increasing problem all over the country. Frequently taking the form of using a cell phone to text, talk, or use social media, distracted driving can also be attributed to eating, drink, personal grooming, loud music, other passengers, and GPS/navigation technologies. If you are a pedestrian hurt by a distracted driver, seek immediate advice from a qualified injury lawyer.

Other Contributing Factors

In addition to recklessness and negligent motor vehicle operators, pedestrian collisions can also be attributed to a variety of other factors.

Low Visibility & Weather

Although accidents can and do occur during daylight hours, the risk of pedestrian accidents increases when there is less visibility for both the driver and the pedestrian. The majority of pedestrian deaths in Rhode Island occur between the hours of 4pm and midnight. At night, and in low-lit areas, there is a risk of drivers hitting pedestrians whom they cannot see. For example, in March 2020, a RI man was killed in the early hours of the morning after he was struck by multiple vehicles while walking on the I-95 highway. Weather conditions, like rain, snow, or even the bright glare from the sun, can cause poor visibility or slippery conditions for a driver, resulting in a tragic collision with a person walking on the street. Although it is harder in cases where the cause of an accident is low visibility to determine an unequivocal culprit, it is still important to get proper restitution for the victims of such an accident. As in the majority of these types of incidents, the most severely impacted person is the pedestrian in the situation and therefore, it is important to seek advice from an experienced Rhode Island personal injury lawyer who can help victims of pedestrian accidents figure out the best course of action for obtaining legal reparations.

Larger Motor Vehicles

Cars are still the most frequent type of vehicle involved in pedestrian collisions, however as the popularity of bigger vehicles like SUV’s and trucks has surged over the years, so has the rate of these heavier vehicles involved in pedestrian crashes. Not only can larger motor vehicles cause more physical damage to a person on foot strictly because of their weight, some may also be more prone to blind spots due to their structure, making it more difficult to see a pedestrian. A driver who strikes a person on foot and attributes the collision to an obstructed view, will likely be held liable for the person’s injuries so it is important to seek expert legal advice.

Finding the Right Lawyer After Your Accident

Seeking qualified and experienced representation for your injury claim is an essential part of a successful legal proceeding, no matter what the cause of the accident is. Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian serves injured people in RI and MA through his offices in Seekonk, MA, Providence, RI, and Warwick, RI and has pervasive experience working with clients involved in all types of accidents, including pedestrian accidents, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents. If you have found yourself a victim of an accident or know someone who has, contact Tapalian Law at (401) 552-5000 for a free appointment to discuss the case with an experienced Rhode Island accident lawyer, or reach our injury law firm using our easy, online contact form.

Client Reviews
He took care of everything and kept me updated as well. It was such a smooth process and in the end I won my case. I would highly recommend David Tapalian! Patrice F.
When I contacted David Tapalian, Attorney & Counselor at Law, all my worries were immediately alleviated. He handled my case from beginning to end and kept me updated every step of the way. Susie M.
I visited David a couple of days after my accident and he gave me clear and concise details on what would happen throughout the process... David N.