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At a time of decreasing car accident fatalities, the number of pedestrian accidents has increased. Growing numbers of people are struck in crosswalks in Pittsburgh and around the country and many individuals do not survive their injuries.

Recent NHTSA data indicate that the number of pedestrian deaths rose 4.2 percent in 2010. Most of these accidents appear to be attributable to driver negligence. Those who lose family members in fatal pedestrian accidents can hold these negligent drivers responsible for the damage that they cause by filing wrongful death lawsuits.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of legal action filed by the family of a deceased pedestrian accident victim against the driver that caused the pedestrian’s death. Funds from a wrongful death lawsuit can go to pay medical bills and compensate families for the pain and suffering arising out of the death of a relative.

Two factors that contribute to the growing number of pedestrian accident death appear to be distraction and alcohol.

“A number of studies that indicate that pedestrian distraction is real,” said a professor of environmental psychology at NYU. “It’s very much like driving a car and being on a cellphone. You’re much more likely to miss something around you. Even worse is texting. The likelihood of an accident being really bad or fatal is higher when you’re not protected by 2 tons of steel.”

Phones also frequently distract drivers. Texting drivers are much more likely to hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk than drivers who are paying attention to the road. Alcohol appears to play a role in about half of pedestrian accidents. About a third of the pedestrian accidents in 2009 involved a legally intoxicated pedestrian whereas 13 percent of the accidents involved an intoxicated driver.

Source: USA Today,”As U.S. road deaths drop, more pedestrians getting struck,” Larry Copeland, Dec. 9, 2011