Hilley & Frieder, P.C.
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Pedestrian fatalities and the meaning of full value of life

If a motorist hits a pedestrian, the walker or jogger will usually incur the most severe injuries, and it is not unusual for the victim to die.

If driver negligence results in the pedestrian fatality, the surviving family members may recover the full value of life of the person who died.

What we know

Data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in 2016, 5,987 pedestrians across the country died when struck by vehicles. This amounts to one pedestrian death every hour and a half. The statistics indicate that due to their vulnerability, pedestrians are one and a half times more likely to die in a traffic crash than vehicle occupants who have the protection of steel framework.

Those most at risk

The data shows that pedestrians aged 65 and older are most at risk for vehicle-related injury or death. Older walkers and joggers accounted for roughly 15% of those injured in 2015 and 20% of those who died in 2016. Children are also at risk. One in every five who were younger than 15 became traffic crash fatalities in 2015. As for the reasons behind vehicle-pedestrian collisions, alcohol was a factor in nearly half of the fatal crashes in 2015, but high vehicle speed is also to blame and remains a concern. Most vehicle-pedestrian fatalities occur after dark and in urban areas in non-intersection locations.

Options for family

In 2017, there were 1,440 fatal crashes, resulting in 1,540 fatalities in the state of Georgia. The family of a decedent has the right to claim wrongful death and recover what is called the “full value of life” of the person who died in the vehicle-pedestrian collision. This refers not only to the decedent’s current and estimated future earnings, but also the value of his life; that is, what life meant to the person who died. Surviving family members should explore their legal options to learn how they may obtain compensation following the wrongful death of a loved one.

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