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Wheelchair users face greater danger in collisions with cars

People in Minnesota and throughout the country who are in wheelchairs are more likely than other pedestrians to die after being hit by a car, according to a recent study. Researchers at Georgetown University looked at reports of car accidents in the LexisNexis database and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that wheelchair users were 36 percent more likely to die in collisions. The data was from the years 2006 to 2012, and about 528 wheelchair users died in that time.

Men had a likelihood of dying that was five times higher than that of women, and the accidents usually happened in intersections. Researchers said the results pointed to a need for better urban planning and safer sidewalks.

Researchers also cautioned that drivers need to be more aware of pedestrians and that wheelchair users cannot maneuver like other pedestrians. Better pedestrian infrastructure overall will result in fewer accidents.

It is possible that wheelchair users might be more likely to suffer injury in these types of accidents too. Whether or not pedestrians are in wheelchairs, they could be seriously injured if they are hit by a car. The insurance company may not offer very much money to the injured individual who may be dealing with medical bills, missed time from work and lost wages. A wheelchair user might face new physical challenges as a result of the accident. In these circumstances, the injured pedestrian might consider filing a lawsuit against the driver. The city might be liable if the intersection is poorly marked or there is some other aspect that makes it particularly dangerous for pedestrians. If a driver hits the pedestrian while working, their company might also be liable. An attorney may be able to discuss legal strategies with the injured pedestrian.

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