North Carolina Pedestrian Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer

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A car swerved onto the sidewalk, with broken glass scattered about, and a pedestrian's shoe in the foreground.Cars and other motor vehicles are like indestructible missiles shooting down the road at incredible speeds, and sometimes they even leave the roadway.

A pedestrian is anyone walking on or by a roadway or street. Pedestrians do not stand a chance against these vehicles when a collision occurs, and that is why fatalities and severe injuries are so likely in these situations.

North Carolina Pedestrian Laws

The laws for pedestrians in North Carolina are the same as most other areas.

  • Obey all posted signage. For example, “Do Not Walk” signs mean exactly that, and they are posted for a good reason; it is not safe to walk there.
  • At intersections, there may be “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” signals for pedestrians. When the “Walk” signal is lit, the people walking have the right of way to cross the intersection, and vehicles must yield to them. The “Don’t Walk” signal means the motor vehicle traffic has the right of way, and the pedestrians must not cross the intersection.
  • Some intersections do not have special signals for pedestrians. In these locations, people will follow the same rules as the traffic flowing in the same direction. They can cross while the green light is on and must wait during the yellow and red lights. Pedestrians have the right of way during a green light, including when motor vehicles also have a green light to turn across the path of the pedestrian.
  • While crossing intersections without traffic signals, pedestrians should stop and cross when traffic has stopped for them, and it is safe. They have the right of way while walking in all marked crosswalks and while crossing at intersections from one sidewalk to another in a straight path; they should not cross diagonally.
  • When a pedestrian begins crossing the path of a vehicle that has the right of way, the vehicle should first sound its horn as a warning. The pedestrian should yield to the vehicle with the right of way, but in situations where they continue walking, the vehicle must yield to save the life of the person.
  • Walking upon a road where there is a sidewalk provided is not legal. Pedestrians must use the sidewalk provided.
  • When there is no sidewalk provided along a roadway, the pedestrian must walk in the direction where they are facing traffic, and they must stay as far away from traffic lanes as possible. These pedestrians must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.
  • Drivers of motor vehicles must always yield to the pedestrian in order to avoid a collision, and extra care must be taken when driving near children and incapacitated or confused individuals.

How Often Do Drunk Drivers Hit Pedestrians as Opposed to Other Vehicles?

Pedestrians are always the loser when they come up against a vehicle. There is no competition between a soft and squishy human and a large metal vehicle.

Alcohol is the main reason why pedestrians are hit by motor vehicles. The drunk driver’s concentration is diminished, and their reaction time is greatly reduced.

In 2020, 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents involving intoxicated drivers, according to the CDC. That was a 14.3% increase from 2019 and accounted for 30% of all traffic-related deaths in the country.

Drunk drivers kill about one person every 45 minutes. In comparison, pedestrians are killed every 75 minutes by motor vehicle collisions.

Over 7,000 people died in 2020, and there were about 104,000 pedestrians treated in emergency departments for injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. Alcohol was involved in 46% of these crashes.

13% of the drivers and 32% of pedestrians had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams per deciliter, which is North Carolina’s legal limit.

What Happens When the Pedestrian in a Collision Was Drunk?

When someone’s blood alcohol content level goes above 0.08 grams per deciliter, they become physically and mentally impaired.

Alcohol changes their cognitive function, and they become slower to react. Their decision-making is significantly reduced, and their depth perception, peripheral vision, and glare recovery are impaired.

These changes in physical and mental function are a very dangerous combination for both driving and walking.

There have been multiple campaigns educating people on the dangers of drunk driving, but one of the solutions people are told to do is to walk instead of drive. While it’s true that drunk walking doesn’t cause the deaths of innocent bystanders, the drunk person is still at great risk.

With decreased decision-making abilities, the intoxicated individual can easily walk into traffic.

Blood Alcohol Concentration of Drunk Pedestrians

The majority of drunk pedestrians that have died in collisions with motor vehicles have had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.19 to 0.23 grams per deciliter. This amount is astoundingly high.

These people would have been severely impaired and near unconsciousness. This amount of impairment explains why they died as pedestrians.

Is There A Gender Gap For Drunk Pedestrians?

Men made up about 70% of drivers killed in accidents. It has been reported that men drive more miles than women and are also more likely to participate in risky behavior such as:

  • Speeding
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Drunk driving

Men also made up about 81.1% of drunk pedestrians.

Average Age of Drunk Drivers and Drunk Pedestrians That Are Killed in Collisions

The average age of drunk drivers that died from their injuries between 2004 and 2013 was 34 years old. The average age for drunk pedestrians killed was 44.

Consequences For Hitting a Pedestrian While Driving Drunk

All drivers have a duty of care to watch for and not hit any pedestrians. If they hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk or on a sidewalk, they have breached that duty of care.

The drunk driver would be responsible for the pedestrian’s medical bills, anticipated future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and potentially punitive damages.

There is also a strong chance that the drunk driver would owe the pedestrian’s family a wrongful death claim because collisions involving a drunk driver and a pedestrian are often fatal.

Punitive Damages

Drunk drivers are subject to punitive damages when their impairment is what caused the accident. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for the intentional disregard for the safety of others.

There is no limit to how much the court can award to the victim in a drunk driving case.

Are the Pedestrians Ever at Fault for Causing the Collision?

The driver of the vehicle has the responsibility to avoid hitting a pedestrian. In North Carolina, pedestrians also have a standard duty to practice safety and to make responsible decisions as well.

Pedestrians have the right of way at all crosswalks and intersections, but they must yield to traffic when crossing anywhere outside a marked crosswalk.

Failure to cross at a crosswalk is a negligent endangerment of themselves and to drivers. Pedestrians can be found to be at fault for the accident in this case.

Crossing an intersection against the traffic light can also lead to the pedestrian being found negligent and, therefore, at fault for causing any accidents.

Contributory Negligence

In North Carolina, if someone is the slightest bit responsible for causing the accident, they cannot claim damages for compensation. They only need to hold 1% of the fault to be prohibited from collecting compensatory damages.

So, if a drunk driver hits a pedestrian that stepped out in front of their vehicle outside of a crosswalk, the pedestrian would not be compensated for any damages caused.

Prison Sentences For Drunk Driving Vehicular Homicide

Drunk drivers in North Carolina are sentenced to between 15 and 480 months of prison, depending on aggravating factors and any criminal history.

They also have to face the consequences of guilt from knowing they killed somebody because they chose to drive alcohol and then drive.

Call Experienced Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers for Help With Your Case Today

The amazing team of lawyers at Tatum & Atkinson is dedicated to helping you get the settlement you deserve when you have been injured in a drunk driving accident.

Call us at (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation where we can answer all your questions and discuss your case. We will get you paid for everything you are legally entitled to receive as quickly as possible.