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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Pedestrians in Wheelchairs At Increased Risk of Car Accident

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

Pedestrians in wheelchairs are at much greater risk of being in accidents than non-wheelchair users according to research on the subject. A recent study found that pedestrians in wheelchairs who were hit by cars actually had a 36 percent higher fatality rate than accidents involving non-wheelchair using pedestrians. Such accidents have also occurred in the Chicagoland area. If you utilize a wheelchair and you were injured in an accident with a motorist, contact an Illinois car Accident lawyer.

Motorists, who are increasingly distracted by their cell phones and other things while driving as has been previously discussed on this blog, are less likely to see an individual in a wheelchair than someone walking upright.

This is because the individual in the wheelchair may have a lower profile and be more difficult to spot for a distracted motorist than an adult of average height walking upright. In addition, it may take an individual in a wheelchair longer to get across a crosswalk on a busy intersection than it might take an individual who is running across the street to beat the light.

What Steps Can An Individual In A Wheelchair Take To Maximize Their Safety As Pedestrians?

If you are an individual who utilizes a wheelchair for mobility purposes, there a number of steps that you can take to ensure your safety when in your role as a pedestrian. For example:

  • Ensure your own safety is to be extra careful to always travel only within the crosswalk when crossing the street and only to cross with the full walk signal
  • Cross when the second hand is counting down or, even worse, against a Do Not Walk signal is never a good idea, particularly at busy intersections.
  • Even if you do have a full walk signal, make eye contact with drivers who are in the right hand turn lane at intersections where a right hand turn on red is permitted to ensure that the motorist is aware that you are there and intend to cross the street.
  • Remember that it is your safety that matters most and the old truism that, in a contest between a pedestrian and a car, the car always wins.

Motorists Are Legally Responsible for Being Aware of Their Surroundings

Do not let this discussion distract you from the fact that a motorist still owes what the law calls a duty of care to operate their vehicle in a safe manner towards ALL pedestrians and other motorists, no matter if they are walking, using a wheelchair, or riding a bike. Duty of care means that a motorist must exercise reasonable care when operating his or her vehicle around pedestrians, no matter whether the pedestrians are children, adults, or are wheelchair bound or 100% independent.

There is no “wheelchair exception” to the general legal duty that each and motorist in Illinois has; instead a motorist must accept each and every pedestrian or other motorist the same duty of care. It is therefore not a legal defense for a motorist to claim that he was taking appropriate actions that would not have endangered a person who is walking when the pedestrian whom he struck with his vehicle was in a wheelchair.

Drivers are required not only to exercise a duty of care to each pedestrian but to obey all posted speed limits and other traffic laws and ordinances. However, as discussed above, never take for granted that the motorists around you are obeying their legal duties.

It is your responsibility to ensure your own safety to the maximum extent possible and a motorist is actually permitted to argue in certain limited circumstances that a pedestrian or other motorist was not acting in a manner that would guarantee their own safety. It is therefore always your responsibility to act in a way that maximizes your own safety, no matter who is in the right from a legal perspective.

Contact an Illinois Lawyer

Many cases involving personal injuries suffered in a car accident go to court, and you’ll want an experienced attorney by your side when negotiating with the driver who hit you and his or her insurance company.

This is is particularly important when that attorney has experience representing those who utilize wheelchairs, like an Illinois lawyer from Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. will have. Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to learn how our personal injury attorneys can help you or your loved one after an auto accident.



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