News Room

Pedestrian Danger: Death by SUV

Written on behalf of Brian S. Kabateck

August 3, 2018

There’s disturbing new evidence about an increase in pedestrian deaths involving one of America’s most popular vehicles. Sports Utility Vehicles or SUVs are contributing to a stunning rise in pedestrian fatalities, according to federal safety regulators, who apparently have known about this trend for a while but have done little to curb the problem.

A Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY NETWORK investigation revealed that pedestrian deaths are up 46 percent since 2009. The report states that nearly 6-thousand people, (including walkers, joggers and children) died either on or along a U.S. roadway in the year 2016—alone. It turns out, government regulators have known for years that because of the SUV’s higher front-end-profile, the vehicles are at least twice as likely to kill people than regular sized cars. A key factor supported by data, is that higher profile, blunt-nose SUVs are deadlier for pedestrians than cars. Because the front end of an SUV is taller, the vehicle strikes a pedestrian higher on their body, meaning a collision is more likely to be fatal by causing a serious head or chest injury. A lower profile car is more likely to strike an adult’s leg, which may cause a catastrophic injury, but is survivable.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study in 2015 concluded that pedestrians “are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck” versus a passenger car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated an 81 percent rise in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs between 2009-16.

The federal government says that hundreds of pedestrian lives could be saved through a variety of vehicle safety measures. However, stiff opposition from automakers has prevented implementing those fixes because the manufacturers are not required to do so.

NHTSA announced a plan, following the findings in 2015, to revamp its vehicle-safety rating system to include an updated score for pedestrian safety. The plan is to unveil an upgraded New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) sometime in either 2018 for 2019 model-year vehicles but there’s no sign of that happening anytime soon.

City leaders are doing their part, hoping to stem the tide of preventable deaths by stepping up pedestrian safety measures. Those include lowering speed limits, creating more midblock crosswalks and improving roadway lighting. New York has successfully cut its pedestrian death rate nearly in half by implementing some of these safeguards.

One of the more disturbing parts of the report finds that the surge in pedestrian deaths is happening in primarily urban cities, disproportionately affecting minorities. The high-risk cities are either in the industrial heartland or in warm-weather areas. San Bernardino, CA made the list of top ten cities with the highest per-capita pedestrian death rates in cities with populations of at least 200-thousand in 2009-2016. Detroit came in at number one followed by Newark, NJ; St. Louis, MO; Baton Rouge, LA; Miami, FL; San Bernardino; Birmingham, AL; Tampa, FL; Fayetteville, NC; and Phoenix, AZ.

A wrongful death claim arises when one person dies as the result of the wrongful act of another person or entity.

A civil lawsuit may be brought directly by the survivors of the deceased person, or by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Different than criminal matters, fault is expressed solely in terms of money compensation.

Survivors of the deceased person include the surviving spouse, domestic partner and surviving children. If there is no surviving person in the deceased estate, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”; which can include the deceased person’s parents, or the deceased person’s siblings, depending on who is living at the time of the deceased person’s death.

Damages are determined according to whether they compensate the estate for losses associated with the death, or the surviving family members for the personal losses they suffered as a result of the death. Losses include, but are not limited to: funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses while alive, lost income of the decedent, the value of household services loss of anticipated financial support, and the loss of love, community, attention, affection, moral support, and guidance. Our wrongful death lawyers in Los Angeles are ready to take your call to see if they can help achieve maximal recovery for the death caused to your loved one.