When Runaway Vehicles Hit Pedestrians: The Complexities of Pedestrian Strike Crashes

Pedestrian strike accidents can cause significant or fatal injuries. Our Boston injury lawyers can help. Call today.Runaway vehicles can be lethal. Last year, a man in Hingham drove his car into an Apple store. The crash injured at least 18 people and fatally injured one. This type of collision may be less common than rear-end crashes, but it can be far more devastating (and deadly) when it occurs.

Pedestrian strike accidents – where pedestrians are hit by vehicles as they enter, exit, or walk near buildings – can be challenging legal claims. We know, because we routinely handle these cases on behalf of pedestrians and their families in and around Boston. Breakstone, White & Gluck has successfully represented clients who sustained injuries from out-of-control and runaway vehicles, securing millions of dollars on their behalf.

What is a pedestrian strike accident, exactly?

Pedestrian accidents typically involve third parties (like drivers, cyclists, and others) causing harm to pedestrians in some way. Pedestrian strike accidents specifically involve cases where a vehicle crashes into a building or structure, and hits a pedestrian as it does. Many times, the injuries or fatality would have been prevented had the property owner taken certain steps to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

Determining fault in a pedestrian strike case

Determining fault, or liability, is a critical component of any pedestrian strike case. Typically, there are at least two potentially liable parties:

  • Driver liability: In most pedestrian strike accidents, the primary party held accountable is the driver of the vehicle that struck the pedestrian. The driver's actions, such as negligence, recklessness, or impairment, can all lead to injuries. So, too, can pedal confusion – a common cause of strike accidents.
  • Property owner liability: There are circumstances where the property owner may be responsible for a pedestrian strike accident. Property owners have a legal duty to ensure the safety of their premises, including implementing adequate safety measures to protect pedestrians and the building itself, failure to do so may result in a case against them.

In some cases, liability for a pedestrian strike accident may be shared between the driver and the property owner. If both the driver and the property owner contributed to the crash and/or resulting injuries, the shared liability for damages may be divided between both parties based on their respective degrees of negligence.

How “foreseeability” can affect a building/pedestrian strike case

Identifying driver negligence is one aspect of the case, but determining property owner liability can be challenging, particularly regarding the concept of "foreseeability." Property owners are expected to have reasonably anticipated the potential for a building strike in certain areas and should have appropriate safety measures in place. This may involve installing bollards or safety barriers, changing the direction in which vehicles can park, or building other physical safeguards to prevent vehicles from jumping the curb and reaching pedestrian walkways or the building itself.

Property owners are also responsible for maintaining clear walkways that are free from obstacles and hazards, ensuring proper lighting and marking walkways to minimize the risk of accidents. If inadequate safety measures or hazards on the property contribute to a pedestrian strike accident, the property owner may be held partially liable for the resulting damages.

Breakstone, White & Gluck has successfully represented pedestrians for decades

Breakstone, White & Gluck has years of experience representing injured pedestrians, as well as families whose loved ones were killed in these types of pedestrian strike cases.

  • We secured an award of $2.1 million for a client whose family member was hit by a driver who lost control over her car, veering onto the sidewalk and striking the plaintiff, causing his immediate death. The elderly driver claimed she hit the accelerator instead of the brake while maneuvering through the mall parking area. Tragically, not only did the plaintiff lose his life, but his friend and another pedestrian also suffered serious injuries. The incident was captured on multiple surveillance cameras, providing crucial evidence.
  • In another case, a thirty-one-year-old schoolteacher was walking on a sidewalk at a privately owned strip mall when an elderly driver attempted to park her car. In a moment of negligence, the driver accelerated onto the sidewalk, crashing through a plate glass window. Our client suffered a tibial plateau compression fracture, tears in three of the four major ligaments in her knee and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She underwent multiple surgeries, followed by extensive physical therapy. The injuries severely impacted her ability to work and she experienced recurring nightmares and accident-related anxiety. We were able to secure a $1.2 million award for her.
  • We also represented a grandfather who was walking with his young grandson outside his home right before Christmas; an out-of-control driver hit the grandfather before crashing into the family home. Our client was in the ICU for several days and his injuries took a very long time to heal. The insurance company tried to claim they did not need to pay because the driver had allegedly suffered a medical emergency and lost consciousness while driving, but we were able to secure compensation for him as well.
  • We are currently representing clients in a case involving a valet who lost control of his vehicle and ran over multiple people, injuring 13 and killing five.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. Our results, as well as testimonials and reviews from previous clients, all speak to our ability to handle the most complex and challenging injury and wrongful death cases. We’re not afraid to fight back against the insurance companies when they want to deny your claim or offer a lowball settlement. As experienced trial attorneys, we know how to present your case to a jury when needed, to secure the compensation you need.

If you or a family member has been a victim of a pedestrian strike accident in or near Boston, choose the trusted team of personal injury attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck. With our deep experience in these shared liability cases, it is our duty to help put the pieces back together for families torn apart by pedestrian strike accidents. Call or contact us today for your free consultation.