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Wheelchair users vulnerable in pedestrian accidents

Drivers and pedestrians in Kentucky should be aware that wheelchair users are more likely to die if hit by a car than other pedestrians. Georgetown University researchers, who published their results in a medical journal, said that they found little research on injuries among wheelchair users who were hit while pedestrians and almost none on fatalities. They used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and newspaper reports in their study.

The researchers found that between 2006 and 2012, about 528 people using wheelchairs were fatally injured in traffic accidents. Men were five times more likely to be in accidents, and the accidents tended to occur in intersections.

Communities and city planners should provide better pedestrian infrastructure with special attention paid to wheelchair users and the requirements of the American Disabilities Act, researchers noted. Drivers also need to be more cognizant of pedestrians in wheelchairs. The researchers recommended both changes in the environment and in behavior to reduce the mortality rate.

Families of people who have been killed in pedestrian accidents may wish to file a wrongful death suit against the responsible party. This might be a negligent driver, but in some cases, the intersection may have been particularly dangerous for wheelchair users, and the municipality might bear some responsibility. If the driver was working at the time of the accident, such as a delivery driver or a truck driver, the driver's employer may bear some liability as well. A personal injury attorney can assist by reviewing the accident investigation report and other evidence in order to pinpoint responsibility.

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