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‘Good Samaritan’ drivers that hit pedestrians rarely charged

We talk about pedestrian accidents on this blog very often, and with good reason. Pedestrians are inherently at great risk of injury when they enter the crosswalk. Just because some painted lines give you a “protected” area to walk in does not mean that you are safe from an oncoming vehicle. In addition, pedestrian accident rates here in the Bay Area are not getting much better.

Pedestrian safety is a very important issue that San Francisco lawmakers and the public need to take seriously. Officials can make as many laws as they want; but if drivers or pedestrians do not obey them or hold up their end of the safety bargain (so to speak), then pedestrian accident rates will remain in a holding pattern.

Considering a recent expose in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding car v. pedestrian accidents and the relative legal inaction that occurs in the wake of such a wreck, the above factors are even more important. According to the report, about 33 percent of pedestrian accidents in the Bay Area from 2007 to 2011 involved a person walking in the protected crosswalk. Of the drivers determined to be at-fault for the crash, only 40 percent of them faced some sort of criminal charge.

That’s right — 60 percent were let off with no criminal punishment. In fact just under 60 percent of drivers had their license suspended in the wake of such a wreck (even though some of those suspensions only lasted for 24 hours).

It re-emphasizes the need for victimized pedestrians to consider their legal options after a car v. pedestrian accident. The criminal courts may not help you; but a civil lawsuit can earn you the compensation you need to get through this difficult and painful time in your life; while also giving you a small sense of justice for the accident.

Source: Streetsblog San Francisco, “On Bay Area News Stands: The Lack of Accountability for Drivers Who Kill,” Aaron Bialick, April 30, 2013

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