Why Do Elderly Adults Have a Higher Risk of Being Hit as a Pedestrian?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on July 12, 2022 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

elderly person crossing streetThe number of pedestrians getting struck by a vehicle has been on the rise in recent years. Of those injured or killed, statistics show that pedestrians aged 65 years and older are especially at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this age group accounted for 20 percent of all pedestrians killed in 2020. Unfortunately, elderly pedestrians not only have an increased risk for being hit by a car, but they are also more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries.

If you were injured by a negligent driver as a pedestrian, you may be eligible to recover significant compensation for your medical costs and other losses. Not sure if you have a valid case? Find out about your potential legal options at no cost or risk to you.

Why choose PKSD? To start with, our firm has decades of experience and a history of proven results. This background can greatly benefit you and the outcome of your claim. Additionally, our Milwaukee-based auto accident lawyers are deeply committed to helping you seek the maximum compensation you need. If we represent you, there are also no upfront costs to pay.

Call for your FREE case review today. 414-333-3333

Why Are Elderly Pedestrians More Likely to Be Hit By a Car?

There are many causes for a crash involving a pedestrian. However, elderly pedestrians are much more likely to be struck by a vehicle for various reasons, including:

Reduced Physical Abilities

The aging process changes our bodies and makes them more vulnerable. Elderly pedestrians often struggle with the gradual onset of new ailments and challenges. These physical changes and medical conditions may cause older pedestrians to:

  • Walk more slowly
  • Have impaired reflexes
  • Struggle with diminished eyesight and/or hearing
  • Have early onset dementia or other mental/cognitive changes
  • Be more physically unstable or prone to falling while attempting to cross a street

Too-Short Traffic Signals

Traffic signals often change far too quickly, even for younger pedestrians. For the elderly, who may also have chronic pain, arthritis or other mobility issues, crossing the street in time is a far greater challenge.

Poor Roadway Design

Poor road planning and design often has a significant impact on pedestrians, especially the elderly and the very young. Many urban areas, for instance, may have too few safety crosswalks and inadequate street lighting. Other areas may have multiple lanes of traffic with no center islands where people can stop halfway across. Poorly maintained roads with potholes and other damage create another risk to elderly pedestrians.

Urban Areas With Increased Traffic

Pedestrians who get hit at lower speeds may recover from their injuries. However, even when a vehicle is going slower, a crash is more likely to be fatal to the elderly. Unfortunately, since many drivers tend to exceed the speed limit through urban areas, the increased traffic in urban areas increases this risk. When a vehicle hits a pedestrian going just 35 to 40 mph, it is often deadly.

Impatient or Impaired Drivers

When drivers are distracted, impaired or in a hurry, they pose a serious threat to elderly pedestrians. Sometimes these drivers may be so impatient to be on their way they may honk their horns or try to drive around the pedestrian crossing. This type of aggressive behavior may frighten an elderly pedestrian or cause more confusion. Those with reduced cognitive abilities may become frightened enough to wander into oncoming traffic.

Why Do Elderly Pedestrians Suffer More Severe Injuries in Minor Crashes?

Elderly pedestrians are more fragile. In part, this is due to the natural aging process and wear and tear on the body. Any collision with a vehicle, including at low speed, could cause catastrophic or fatal damages. Certain medical conditions, like osteoporosis, make bones more fragile, increasing the risk of suffering severe fractures. Older persons may also take medications that increase the risk of serious secondary complications after an accident.

For instance, if an elderly person takes blood thinners and hits their head after being struck by a car. Even a minor fall for these individuals could lead to a fatal intracranial hematoma (pooling of blood within the skull).

How Can You Seek Compensation for an Elderly Pedestrian Crash?

Despite the tragedy of an elderly person being hit by a car, he or she must still prove the other party was negligent. Seeking legal help for this type of complicated claim is critical to helping you or your loved one recover full compensation.

When the Driver is At Fault

Often, the driver is likely to be the negligent party for a pedestrian crash. This is especially true if the victim was crossing with the traffic signal or in a designated crossing area. That said, an attorney can help to prove negligence by:

  • Investigating the crash scene to determine liability
  • Gathering strong evidence that supports your claim
  • Calculating the full value of your injury claim
  • Negotiating for maximum compensation
  • Being prepared to go to court if necessary

To establish negligence, an attorney must establish the other party owed you a duty of care. Then, using the gathered evidence, your attorney must prove the other party’s violation of that duty and how it caused you harm.

Injury claims are complicated, so having an attorney to protect your interests may greatly benefit you. Victims who are represented by an attorney often recover more compensation than those who go it alone.

What if the Victim is Partially to Blame?

There are times that a pedestrian may be partially or fully at fault for being hit by a car. For instance, if the victim was jaywalking or suddenly darted into the street. In that situation, a driver may not be able to stop in time. Sometimes an elderly person may become confused and think it is safe to walk when it is not.

That said, Wisconsin follows a comparative negligence law. Even when victims are partially to blame for their injuries, they may still have a valid case. As long as the injury victim is not 51 percent or more at fault for the crash, then they can still file a claim for damages. However, whatever amount of fault they are assessed with will be deducted from any final compensatory award.

How Elderly Adults Can Reduce the Risk of Being Hit By a Car

Drivers owe a duty to prevent harm to all pedestrians, including the elderly. However, as an older person, there are some steps you can take to be safer as a pedestrian.

Elderly Pedestrian Safety Tips

As we age, it is important to be realistic about what our bodies can and cannot do. This is difficult for many elderly people to admit but having this mindfulness can help you to stay safer as a pedestrian.

  • Avoid walking across streets that have no crosswalks
  • Look both ways for oncoming traffic, even when there are crosswalks
  • Check for red light runners when the pedestrian signal changes to go
  • Wear reflective or brightly colored clothing when walking in low light or at night
  • Walk with a group of other people to increase your visibility
  • Make eye contact with the driver when possible before crossing
  • Know your physical challenges and allow yourself more time to cross
  • Make use of mobility assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, to give you more stability
  • Do not be on your cellphone or listening to music while walking across a street
  • Ask for assistance if you need it

Injured as an Elderly Pedestrian? Call PKSD for Legal Help

At PKSD, we are always prepared to help. We are dedicated to listening and fully understanding the details of your situation. If we represent you, we will thoroughly investigate your crash and seek maximum compensation for your damages.

Do not wait to call an attorney. There are deadlines that apply to injury claims. Contact our firm today to learn how we may be able to help.

We do not get paid our fees unless we win compensation for you.

PKSD. Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results.  414-333-3333

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