Pedestrian safety is a critical concern in bustling cities like Las Vegas, renowned for its heavy pedestrian traffic, especially near casinos and hotels. Unfortunately, pedestrians are the most vulnerable parties in traffic collisions, often suffering severe or catastrophic injuries.
In the event of a pedestrian accident resulting from a motorist’s negligence, you want to seek legal representation. At Dallas Horton & Associates, we assist victims of such accidents. We understand the challenges of pedestrian accidents and offer dedicated legal support to ensure victims receive the compensation and justice they deserve.
Our attorneys are experienced in pedestrian accidents and offer a compassionate and assertive approach to helping clients recover and move forward.
Pedestrian Accidents in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, a global tourist hub, experiences significant pedestrian traffic, particularly near casinos and hotels. This high foot traffic, unfortunately, correlates with a higher rate of pedestrian accidents. The Nevada Department of Public Safety and the Nevada Department of Transportation reported 376 fatal pedestrian crashes in a recent five-year span, representing over 24% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state, predominantly occurring in Clark County. Notably, about 70% of these fatal accidents occurred at night, and a significant portion took place from Thursday through Saturday, with November being the deadliest month.
The most common causes of pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas include distracted driving, poor visibility, speeding, impairment due to drugs, alcohol, or medication, and many others, as explained below. These factors contribute significantly to the city's high incidence of pedestrian accidents.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents, particularly in busy urban areas like Las Vegas, can occur due to various factors, including:
Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts attention from driving, such as using a mobile device, eating, drinking, or any other form of distraction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,166 people died from distracted driving in 2017. In a city like Las Vegas, distracted driving is exacerbated by the city's many attractions, especially along the Vegas Strip, leading drivers to overlook pedestrians.
Common distracted driving behaviors include texting while driving, using navigation devices, adjusting the radio or climate controls, eating, interacting with passengers, and other activities that take a driver's focus off the road. Distracted driving is not limited to texting but can also include behaviors like applying makeup or having pets in the driver's lap.
In distracted driving accident claims, victims can seek compensation for damages, which often include medical bills (past, present, and future) and other damages. These claims require proving the driver's negligence caused the accident and linking that negligence to the victim's injuries. Establishing negligence in a distracted driving case involves proving that the driver was not paying full attention to the road, leading to the accident. Evidence such as cell phone records, witness reports, and traffic camera footage are crucial.
Proving a driver was texting or otherwise distracted can be accomplished through various means:
- Police Reports and Officer Testimony: Police reports may detail the circumstances and include fault assessments. Officers can testify in court if they witnessed the distracting behavior.
- Admissions by the Driver: Any admission by the driver of being distracted can support a case, particularly in out-of-court settlements.
- Witness Testimony: Bystanders or passengers who witnessed the accident can provide statements or testify in court.
- Cell Phone Records: These can be used as evidence to prove the driver was using their phone at the time of the accident.
- Video or Photographic Evidence: Footage from police dash cams, cell phones, or surveillance cameras can capture distracted driving incidents.
Most personal injury cases in Las Vegas, including those involving distracted driving, are settled before trial. Settlement amounts can vary, with some reaching into the millions.
Poor visibility is a significant factor in pedestrian accidents, especially in urban areas and at night. The impact of reduced visibility due to factors like adverse weather conditions, heavy smoke or smog, and low lighting at night can dramatically increase the risk of pedestrian accidents.
A majority of fatal pedestrian accidents occur at night. Poor lighting conditions contribute significantly to these accidents, making pedestrians difficult to spot. Streetlights, while helpful, often only illuminate the top of a pedestrian’s head, leaving the rest of the body in darkness. This lack of visibility increases the risk for pedestrians, particularly in areas without adequate street lighting.
Around 80% of fatal pedestrian crashes occur in urban areas. These accidents frequently happen away from intersections, where lighting might be insufficient, and drivers are less likely to expect pedestrians. Three-quarters of fatal pedestrian collisions take place away from intersections, emphasizing the risks posed by poor visibility in unexpected areas.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) notes a significant increase in pedestrian fatalities since 2009. In 2018 alone, approximately 7,500 pedestrians died in collisions, with about 6,100 of these deaths occurring on public roads. The increase in pedestrian deaths highlights the growing concern for pedestrian safety in poor visibility conditions.
In addition to poor visibility, other behaviors like driving under the influence, distracted driving (e.g., using smartphones), and speeding in pedestrian-heavy areas further exacerbate the risk of pedestrian accidents. These factors and poor visibility create a dangerous pedestrian environment, especially at night.
Speeding significantly increases the risk and severity of pedestrian accidents. Studies and data analyses have consistently shown a strong correlation between vehicle speed, pedestrian accident likelihood, and the severity of the resulting injuries.
Higher vehicle speeds lead to more severe pedestrian injuries. For instance, the fatality rate for pedestrians struck by a vehicle is only about 5% at speeds of 20 mph or less. However, this rate escalates to about 40% at 30 mph, 80% at 40 mph, and nearly 100% for speeds exceeding 50 mph.
Also, the likelihood of pedestrian fatalities increases substantially with higher vehicle speeds. This is evident from the ratio of pedestrian injuries to fatalities, which changes drastically with speed. On roadways with speed limits of 25 mph or less, the ratio was 57.1 injuries per fatality, compared to just 0.3 injuries per fatality on roadways with speed limits of 60 mph or higher.
Lowering vehicle speeds has been shown to reduce pedestrian injuries by preventing some crashes and reducing the severity of injuries in others. Implementing traffic calming measures, such as road humps, roundabouts, and increased use of stop signs, can effectively reduce vehicle speeds, especially in areas where vehicles and pedestrians commonly share the roadway.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, Alcohol, or Medication
Impaired driving, whether due to alcohol, drugs, or medication, significantly reduces a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely, leading to an increased risk of pedestrian accidents. In 2020, alcohol impairment was a factor in 41% of all pedestrian fatalities, totaling 2,647 deaths. This highlights the substantial role that alcohol impairment plays in pedestrian accidents. In these incidents, 25% of the time, the pedestrian was the only impaired individual, 10% of the time, the driver was solely impaired, and in 6% of the cases, both pedestrian and driver were impaired.
Alcohol-impaired driving deaths increased by 14.3% in 2020 compared to 2019, accounting for 30% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. This indicates a worrying trend in alcohol-impaired driving contributing to traffic fatalities, including those involving pedestrians. On average, 32 people in the US died daily in collisions involving a DUI driver in 2020.
Driving while impaired by drugs is increasingly recognized as a public health issue. However, the full extent of its harmful effects, particularly in comparison to alcohol-impaired driving, is less understood due to data limitations. Nonetheless, studies have indicated that a significant proportion of drivers involved in serious crashes test positive for various substances, including alcohol, marijuana, opioids, stimulants, and sedatives.
Vehicles Making Left Turns
Accidents involving pedestrians often occur when drivers, particularly those in larger vehicles, turn left at intersections. This type of accident highlights a critical aspect of pedestrian safety and vehicle operation in urban environments. SUVs, pickups, vans, and minivans are likelier than smaller cars to hit pedestrians while making turns. This suggests visibility issues with larger vehicles, which may obstruct drivers' views of pedestrians crossing the road.
The odds of a crash killing a crossing pedestrian during a left turn are about twice as high for SUVs, nearly three times as high for vans and minivans, and nearly four times as high for pickups compared to cars. Similarly, for right turns, these odds are 89% higher for pickups and 63% higher for SUVs than cars. These turning crashes accounted for over 900 out of around 5,800 fatal pedestrian crashes at or near U.S. intersections between 2014-2018.
In locations other than intersections, larger vehicles like SUVs and pickups were associated with significantly higher chances of fatally striking pedestrians. These incidents accounted for approximately 2,500 out of 14,000 fatal pedestrian crashes in the U.S. that did not involve intersections. The prevalence of larger vehicles and pedestrian crashes in rural areas might contribute to these statistics.
Failure To Yield At Crosswalks
In Las Vegas, the issue of pedestrian accidents, particularly at crosswalks, has become increasingly concerning. The city has witnessed a significant increase in pedestrian crashes and fatalities in recent years. A troubling statistic shows that 90% of Nevada's pedestrian fatalities occur in Las Vegas, primarily on streets with high speeds. From 2017 to 2021, pedestrian deaths in the city constituted 30% of the county's total traffic-related fatalities and 79% of Nevada's pedestrian deaths.
Statewide, there has been a rise in pedestrian fatalities in Nevada since 2019. The year 2022 was one of the deadliest on Nevada roads, with 416 traffic deaths, a significant increase from the previous year. In 2023, while there was a general downward trend in traffic fatalities, pedestrian fatalities rose by 15% compared to the same period in 2022.
Certain areas in Las Vegas, such as Boulder Highway, Flamingo, Desert Inn, and North Las Vegas Boulevard, have been identified as hotspots for pedestrian incidents. Over two weeks in the summer of 2023, eight pedestrian deaths were reported, indicating the severity of the issue in Las Vegas. Most pedestrian incidents occur among individuals aged 51-60 between 6 pm and midnight and on Fridays and Saturdays.
Drowsy Or Fatigued Driving
Las Vegas's 24-hour culture significantly contributes to drowsy driving incidents. The city's vibrant nightlife and tourism industry play a critical role. Many residents work on the Strip, where businesses like casinos and nightclubs operate around the clock. Workers must drive home after night shifts, often when it is still dark, which heightens the risk of drowsy driving.
Additionally, Las Vegas welcomes over 40 million tourists annually, many of whom stay up late or all night, indulging in the city's attractions and amenities. These tired tourists, like the local workers, are at risk of causing accidents due to fatigue.
Investigating drowsy driving accidents requires a thorough approach since it is more challenging to prove fatigue compared to other forms of negligence, like drunk driving. Unlike alcohol impairment, there's no direct test to determine if a driver was sleepy at the time of the accident. However, evidence such as cell phone records, GPS data, and employment records can indicate prolonged periods of wakefulness for the driver.
Expert input, including medical specialists and accident reconstruction professionals, also plays a crucial role. They can provide insights into the severity of injuries and reconstruct the accident scenario to indicate signs of drowsy driving, such as the absence of skid marks. Attorneys play a crucial role in gathering and presenting this evidence, especially considering the complexities and nuances of drowsy driving cases.
Legal assistance becomes crucial in cases involving serious injuries or fatalities due to fatigued driving. Victims should consider legal representation when disputes over fault, inaccuracies in police reports, uncooperative insurance companies, or settlement offers appear unfair. Since these accidents often involve severe injuries or fatalities, the stakes are high, and insurance companies might aggressively challenge the claims.
An attorney can help navigate these complexities, ensuring that the victim’s rights are protected, and they receive fair compensation. Under Nevada law, a victim can receive compensation even if partially at fault, provided they are not more than 50% responsible for the accident. It's recommended to seek legal advice as soon as possible, ideally within the two-year window for filing a car accident claim in Las Vegas, to ensure evidence is fresh and accurately represented.
The issue of inexperience among new drivers, particularly teenagers, significantly contributes to the frequency of pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas. Teen drivers, representing only 5% of Nevada's drivers, are involved in a disproportionately high 10% of crashes. This discrepancy is particularly alarming in Las Vegas, where the influx of new teen drivers increases with the start of the school year.
In 2019, the Nevada Department of Traffic Safety reported that teen drivers were responsible for nearly half of the total accidents in the state, with 161 accidents caused by teen drivers out of 330. Moreover, young drivers account for 10.9% of fatalities in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located.
Distracted driving is a major issue among teenage drivers. For example, cell phone use while driving leads to a 37% reduction in brain activity, significantly impairing the driver's focus. This lack of attention is especially dangerous for pedestrians, as inexperienced drivers may be less aware of their surroundings and more focused on vehicular traffic. The largest group distracted at the time of fatal crashes are drivers under 20 years of age.
In Nevada, teen drivers and their guardians face specific legal responsibilities and implications in the event of an accident. The state operates under a fault-based system, where financial responsibility falls on the party causing the accident. If a teen driver is at fault in a pedestrian accident, they (and potentially their guardians) bear the financial responsibilities. Additionally, Nevada law employs a comparative negligence system, which could decrease a teen's claimable compensation if they are partly at fault in an accident.
Nationally, the problem of inexperienced drivers contributing to traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians, is significant. Between 2016 and 2020, 169 young drivers aged 15-20 lost their lives in crashes on Nevada roads. Furthermore, in 2020, there were 2,400 teen-involved fatal accidents on roadways throughout the United States, highlighting the nationwide scale of this issue.
Unsafe Intersection Or Crosswalk Design
Various studies and reports highlight the issue of unsafe intersections or crosswalk designs significantly contributing to pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas. A study by the UNLV Center for Crime and Justice found that in 2018, there were 21,943 reported crashes across 5,171 intersections in Clark County, with almost 12,000 resulting in an injury and 138 being fatal. The distribution of these crashes indicates a concentration of injury-related crashes across specific intersections, pointing towards design issues at these locations.
The intersection of Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard in Clark County was identified as having the most crashes, with 54 injury crashes recorded in 2018. This high rate of incidents is partly attributed to the intersection's inability to handle the traffic volume it receives. In 2018, Clark County had 226 traffic fatalities, the highest in a decade, with a quarter involving pedestrians.
Pedestrian deaths increased by nearly 20% in 2018, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety. Boulder Highway, Nellis Boulevard, and Flamingo Road intersections were highlighted as particularly dangerous, with a tenth of pedestrian fatalities occurring along Boulder Highway. One key design issue noted was that pedestrian crosswalks were timed so pedestrians could only get halfway across the street before waiting, often leading to risky crossing behavior.
The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) identified eight locations along Boulder Highway that had excessive pedestrian fatalities. Various safety designs are implemented, including overhead flashing yellow beacons, painted crosswalks, and Danish-offset median islands. Future improvements include updated ADA-compliant sidewalks, S-islands to control conflict points, pedestrian medians for safety, rapid flashing beacons, updated signage and striping, and enhanced pedestrian lighting.
The issue of pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas, particularly in road construction, is multifaceted and presents unique challenges for drivers and pedestrians. Road construction in Las Vegas intensifies the existing traffic challenges. Construction zones lead to detours, lane closures, and altered traffic patterns, heightening the risk of accidents. Heavy construction machinery and reduced speed limits further exacerbate this risk. Drivers and pedestrians must navigate these changing conditions with heightened alertness, as momentary lapses in attention can be dangerous.
Specific safety standards and regulations bind Las Vegas' road construction zones. The responsible parties may be held accountable if an injury occurs due to non-compliance with these measures, such as inadequate signage or poorly maintained barriers. Individuals need to recognize that injuries in these zones may result from factors beyond personal error, including negligence by construction crews.
Ensuring safety in road construction areas in Las Vegas is a collective responsibility. For construction crews, this means maintaining clear and visible signage and barriers. Drivers and pedestrians, on the other hand, must remain vigilant and adhere to speed limits and signage. Avoiding distractions and being prepared for sudden changes in traffic flow is crucial.
Factors Contributing to Pedestrian Accidents: Las Vegas has experienced a troubling trend in pedestrian-related accidents and fatalities. In 2020, 24.9% of the city's total fatalities involved pedestrians. Between 2016 and 2020, there were 391 pedestrian traffic fatalities in Nevada, with Las Vegas accounting for a significant portion of these deaths. This underscores the heightened risk pedestrians face, especially in urban roadways and construction zones.
In the first seven months of 2023, Nevada witnessed 209 traffic deaths, with Clark County experiencing more than half of these fatalities. Despite a drop in overall traffic fatalities in Clark County compared to 2022, pedestrian fatalities have risen, indicating a concerning trend in pedestrian safety.
Contact a Pedestrian Injury Lawyer Near Me
In the event of a pedestrian accident in Las Vegas, particularly one resulting from a motorist’s negligence, it is crucial for you to seek the assistance of a proficient personal injury lawyer. Pedestrian accidents in Las Vegas often involve complexities due to the involvement of vulnerable parties and motor vehicles. At Dallas Horton & Associates, we can provide the necessary legal expertise in such cases. We are equipped to build your case on a solid legal foundation, ensuring that all aspects, from crosswalk regulations to pedestrian signals, are considered. Contact us today at 702-820-5917 to begin building your case.