The 5 Most Common Pedestrian Injuries From Car Accidents

Published on 04/26/2022 by Monica Burneikis

Car versus pedestrian accidents and resulting injuries are increasingly common, largely due to DUIs and distracted drivers. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA):

2020 had the largest ever annual increase in the rate at which drivers struck and killed people on foot…The likely culprits are dangerous driving like speeding, drunk and drugged driving, and distraction, which was rampant on U.S. roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with infrastructure issues that have prioritized the movement of motor vehicles over walking and bicycling for many years.

Injuries to pedestrians are often much more severe than those suffered by occupants of motor vehicles because pedestrians are much more vulnerable. In the pedestrian versus car or cyclist match-up, the pedestrian always loses.

If you or someone you love is involved in a pedestrian accident caused by a driver or a bicyclist, schedule a free consultation with an experienced Bay Area personal injury attorney. These appointments are invaluable for ensuring you take the best next steps to get the support you need. 

5 Common Pedestrian Injuries

These are the five most common injuries suffered by pedestrians who have been involved in a collision with a vehicle or bicycle, and which should be accounted for in your personal injury claim:

Injuries to the legs and lower torso

Most pedestrian injuries begin at the legs and lower torso, which bear the brunt of the car’s initial impact. Leg and lower torso accidents are primarily caused by impact. Up to 50% or more of accidents involving a pedestrian result in some type of injury or trauma to the lower extremities. These injuries frequently involve breaks or fractures, or serious contusions (scrapes and bruising). They also involve damage to the connective tissue, including cartilage, ligaments, and fascia. 

In addition to being painful, injuries to the legs and torso temporarily or permanently cause mobility issues and result in lost time from work or school. In some cases, injuries to the legs and lower torso lead to amputation, permanent disability, or even paralysis, requiring a long-term recovery plan involving multiple surgeries, doctor/PT appointments, and/or dependency on prosthetics and pain medications.

Head and neck injuries

The second most common pedestrian injuries involve the head, neck, and face. These are most common if the pedestrian’s body comes in contact with the hood or windshield of the vehicle, and/or the concrete. After a body is struck, it is usually thrown a certain distance, resulting in double impact. This causes head trauma as the head and body come into contact with the roadway or another vehicle. Whiplash and other neck injuries are also a possibility, which can lead to long-term whiplash-associated disorders.

Because children are shorter than adults, they are more prone to head and neck injuries during the first impact of a vehicle. According to the NIH, studies have shown the most common pedestrian injuries seen in children involve the head and neck.

Lacerations (cuts) and disfigurement are common pedestrian injuries

All aspects of a car versus pedestrian accident can lead to lacerations or disfigurement. Both blunt impact and encounters with windshield glass or the asphalt/surroundings can cause lacerations. In some cases, minor lacerations require only minimal first aid. In other personal injury scenarios, lacerations or serious disfigurements require stitches and one (or more) reconstructive surgeries. 

The upper extremities

Approximately 27% of pedestrians will experience an injury to their upper extremities. For example, suppose a pedestrian is thrown onto the hood of a car or up and onto the ground. In that case, individuals typically experience injuries to the upper extremities (arms, shoulders, wrists, and hands). This may occur as the direct impact of the car or other hard surfaces or in response to the pedestrians' instinctive automatic reflex to “break their fall” or protect their head/face/neck. Other injuries that may occur include those to the abdominal area or chest.

Fatalities and long-term disability

Sadly, pedestrian accidents are more likely to be fatal than injuries caused to the occupant of a vehicle. Pedestrians also have a higher chance of causing lifetime or long-term disability. In these cases, personal injury lawsuits help relieve the financial burden for families and surviving victims. From ensuring all lifetime medical bills are paid to recouping the costs of future wages, benefits, and retirement – the attorneys at Burneikis Law do all we can to provide as comfortable of a future as possible for clients and families.

Tips To Avoid Pedestrian Injuries From Car Accidents

Some pedestrian accidents are unavoidable, such as those occurring when motorists blow through a red light as a pedestrian makes their way across the crosswalk in tune with the “walk” sign. Drunk, drugged, or distracted drivers are also more likely to do things like swerving up onto a sidewalk or not seeing a pedestrian who has the right of way.

However, some pedestrian tips can help you and your children remain accident-free when walking in and around your neighborhood or in dense urban/cityscapes. For a detailed list, visit our post on Pedestrian Safety 101. Some of the most important tips are to:

  • Obey all pedestrian traffic laws and recommendations.
  • Look both ways, even if the “walk sign” is illuminated.
  • Continue to look for oncoming traffic at all times while crossing a street, even when walking within a crosswalk and with a designated “walk” signal in your favor.
  • Avoid walking during the most dangerous hours (in the dark and between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.).
  • Wear light or bright-colored clothing during the day as well as at night.
  • Use reflective vests or safety clothing, including a flashlight or blinking light, when walking during sunset and after dark.
  • Speak to local law enforcement about the most dangerous intersections/roads in your community and observe extra caution in those locations.
  • Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
  • Never walk while using your phone.
  • Walk facing traffic.
  • Use sidewalks and designated crosswalks whenever possible.

Have you been the victim of a pedestrian injury resulting from a car accident? Contact Burneikis Law to schedule a consultation and ensure you are doing all you can to protect your future.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
Contact Burneikis Law