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Dangers for wheelchair users in car accidents

Pennsylvania pedestrians can be particularly vulnerable in motor vehicle accidents, which means that motorists need to be alert to driving conditions and pedestrian activity. The risks for a pedestrian in a wheelchair can be even greater in an accident, an issue that was identified during a study that tracked statistics from 2006 through 2012. During this period, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded nearly 530 deaths among pedestrians using wheelchairs. Pedestrian deaths total approximately 5,000 per year, and more than 75,000 pedestrians suffer injuries from car accidents each year.

In assessing these statistics, which found that wheelchair-bound pedestrians were 36 percent more likely to die than those who were not so restricted, those conducting the study did not identify a data-based reason for greater vulnerability among those in wheelchairs. However, speculation suggests that there may be many sources of vulnerability. For example, an individual in a wheelchair may not be able to observe or respond to a potentially dangerous situation due to lower orientation or due to a lack of ability to move efficiently. Additionally, those in wheelchairs may be predisposed to poor outcomes due to medical vulnerabilities. Statistics from the study revealed that the risk of death in an accident was five times greater for men in wheelchairs than for women.

Because pedestrian accidents are often tied to catastrophic injuries, motorists have a responsibility for monitoring conditions and taking appropriate actions to avoid harming pedestrians. The increasing problem of smartphone use for talking and texting while driving has the potential to cause pedestrian deaths to increase over time. A motorist who causes a pedestrian's death because of distracted driving could face serious charges and penalties.

A family dealing with a fatal pedestrian accident may deal with challenges in covering the funeral and burial costs. They also often have to deal with the loss of the financial contribution that the decedent made to the household. In such an event, they may want to meet with an attorney to discuss the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent motorist.

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