A recent newspaper report shone the limelight on an overlooked problem in St. Joseph: The lack of sidewalks near a local elementary school. Without sidewalks, the odds of a car accident involving a walking child skyrockets.
Newspaper Report Shines Light on Lack of Sidewalks Near St. Joseph School
While there are plenty of sidewalks on school property for young children to use on their way to and from school, those sidewalks disappear at the school district’s property line.
That property line is formed by Rock Springs Road and Blackwell Road. A sidewalk lines the School’s side of Blackwell Road, but there is only a drainage ditch on the other side of the road. Even at the crosswalk that goes from the steps of the Elementary School across Blackwell Road, crossing schoolchildren are only met with a single slab of concrete on the far side.
As a result, young children are forced to walk in the street before and after class. While the stop light at the crosswalk and the intersection of Rock Springs and Blackwell slow traffic down, both roads are narrow, poorly paved, and have only inches of room on the road's shoulder.
The Legal Significance of the Lack of Sidewalks
Needless to say, pedestrian accidents happen far more often when there are no sidewalks for pedestrians to walk on. When those pedestrians are children, both the odds of an accident happening and the severity of the crash skyrocket: Children are less likely to be aware of their surroundings or take the risks of walking in the road seriously, and are more likely to be seriously hurt if they do get hit by an oncoming car.
While city and school officials have stressed that there is nothing to fear about the lack of sidewalks because no one has been hit by a car, yet, the reality is that the risk exists and it matters.
Legally, though, there is a silver lining. If a child does get hit by a car, a jury will have to determine whether the child contributed to the accident in any way. If the child was partially responsible for the accident happening, the compensation that their personal injury lawsuit recovers would be diminished by the percentage of fault they contributed to the incident.
Normally, walking in the street would be seen as negligent, and would undercut the child’s case. However, where there are no sidewalks, walking in the street becomes less negligent because there is no real alternative.
St. Joseph Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
A child being hit by a car is never something that people want to think about, and providing sidewalks for children to use on their way to and from school should be a priority. However, the law recognizes that the lack of sidewalks would impact a car accident, and helps a child recover the compensation they deserve if they do get hit.