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How Street Design Causes Car Accidents in Denver

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

It is not just dangerous and negligent drivers who put people traveling by two feet at risk in Denver and across Colorado. 

Government planners also deserve some of the blame for the wave of pedestrian injuries and deaths that sweeps the region every year.

More than a third (36%) of people killed in car accidents in Colorado last year were not inside a vehicle at the time of the collision, according to the state transportation department. That is the highest share of fatal accidents in nearly 50 years.

A number of factors are to blame for the spike in pedestrian deaths, including driver error or intoxication, as well as mistakes by people walking, running or riding a bicycle in areas also used by motor vehicles. But advocates say the way that streets and roads are built increasingly poses a hazard. 

They are simply not made for pedestrians.

“We know it’s because our streets are dangerous by design,” Jill Locantore, executive director of the Denver Streets Partnership, told Denver7. “The fundamental problem is we’ve been prioritizing cars and driving above everything else.”

Locantore and other advocates say streets need to be re-envisioned to account for the wide variety of traffic they see every day. That includes lowering speed limits, adding bike and bus lanes and widening sidewalks, among other changes.

“You need an actual complete connected network, which we have for cars but we don’t really have for any other way of getting around,” Locantore told Denver7. “There are many places where the sidewalk ends or where the bikeway comes up to a major arterial, and there are no safe accommodations for the bicyclist to get from one side of the street to the other.”

Denver Streets Partnership has a detailed list of changes that the group says will make city streets safer for everyone. They say the city should ban turns at red lights downtown, increase the use of photo speed and red light cameras and “correct poorly designed areas that invite speeding and other unsafe behaviors.”

Hit and Run Crashes Involving Pedestrians

A total of 26 pedestrians died in collisions with vehicles in Denver last year, according to data from the Denver Police Department. A staggering 18 of the crashes were hit-and-runs.

The trend has continued into the new year. A string of hit-and-run accidents left 10 people dead and at least another 10 injured across metro Denver in January.

In one crash, the driver of a dark Chevrolet Camaro was traveling westbound on California Street on Jan. 12 when the vehicle struck a pedestrian crossing at 22nd Street, Denver7 reports. The pedestrian was sent to the hospital with serious injuries.

Just one day later, the driver of a small sport utility vehicle reportedly ran down a pedestrian on Colfax Avenue just east of Grant Street. The pedestrian was seriously injured in the collision, according to police.

The crashes underscore just how far Denver is from city officials’ stated mission of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries from car crashes. The Vision Zero action plan launched by Mayor Michael Hancock was designed to make those collisions a thing of the past by 2022, a deadline that has already been pushed to 2030. 

Pedestrian Errors Can Have Fatal Consequences

Poor street design and negligent driving are not the only factors in pedestrian accidents. In some situations, pedestrians themselves shoulder at least some of the blame.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in pedestrians at fault in these crashes,” Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, recently told Denver7. “Whether it’s crossing the road at unlit or otherwise unsafe situations or going against the traffic signals, all of those things are there for your safety, whether you’re behind the wheel or on the soles of your shoes.”

About 10% of drivers said they never stop for pedestrians who are not using a crosswalk, according to a 2022 survey by the state transportation department.

Legal Rights for Pedestrians Injured in Car Accidents

A pedestrian who is injured in an accident with a vehicle in Colorado has the right to seek compensation from those responsible. A Denver personal injury attorney at our firm can help you understand your rights and maximize your compensation.

A wide range of people and entities may be liable for the crash, including both negligent drivers and government authorities who poorly design streets and sidewalks.

In some cases, a pedestrian who is partly to blame for the accident can still get compensation. A person who is found to be less than 50% responsible for an accident will have his or her money damages reduced proportionately. A person who is found 50% or more at fault is barred from obtaining compensation for his or her injuries under state law.

The money damages typically available in these cases are intended to help put an injured person back in the financial position that he or she was in prior to the accident. That includes compensation for medical bills, missed wages during physical recuperation and any long-term impact on the injured person’s ability to make a living or participate in day-to-day life. 

In the tragic event that a pedestrian is killed in a crash, his or her loved ones can seek similar compensation for wrongful death. A wrongful death claim will never allow you to replace a loved one or turn back the clock and stop a crash from happening. It can, however, ease some of the monetary strain that often comes with losing a family member.

Speak with a Denver Personal Injury Attorney 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a DUI or other crash in Colorado, a Denver personal injury attorney at Levine Law can help you take action. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver personal injury attorney.