Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be even more difficult to bear if the loss is sudden and unexpected. Unfortunately, this was the case for the family of Dawn Bajak who lost her life unexpectedly while exercising one morning in late November of last year. Right before sunrise on a Monday morning, Mrs. Bajak was running across Donald Cross Road, where it intersects with Central Boulevard, when she was struck by a truck. The driver of the truck had run a red light, and it has not yet been confirmed if he was distracted by anything else at the time of crash. Mrs. Bajak is survived by her two teenage children and her husband, Tony Bajak, the chief operating officer at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Members of the community were both shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the news of her passing. Mrs. Bajak was described as very kind and a “truly selfless individual.”
How Dangerous Is This Intersection?
Though Mrs. Bajak was in the crosswalk at the time of the incident, the Palm Beach County Sherriff's Office reports she did not utilize the pedestrian crossing signal controls. Regardless of this fact, the driver of the truck still broke the law when he chose to ignore the red light. All pedestrians are encouraged to use the crossing signal controls no matter how busy or empty the street may be.
CBS 12 News reports the following:
- Since January 2017, there has only been one other accident at that intersection where a driver ran a red light. That was in May 2017 and it did not result in a fatality.
- In 2017, there were 19 accidents and no fatalities at Donald Ross Road and Central Boulevard.
- In 2018, there were 26 crashes with no fatalities.
- In 2019, there were 20 crashes with no fatalities.
- For 2020, from January through September 1, there were nine crashes and no fatalities.
Florida Red Light Running Deaths Met 10-Year High in 2017
AAA reports the following state statistics:
- Per capita, Florida ties Colorado with the 5th highest rate of red light running fatalities in the U.S.
- In 2017, 99 people were killed in a collision caused by a red light runner. That's a 57 percent increase from just two years before, and the most in a decade.
- From 2008-2017, a total of 741 people were killed by red light running.
- Of those killed during that 10 year period, 268 (36%) were the driver, 85 (11.5%) were the passenger, 346 (46.7%) were the occupant of another vehicle, and 42 (5.7%) were either a pedestrian or cyclist.
Common Causes for Car Crashes Involving Joggers
Though the tragedy feels fresh for the community, this type of accident is not new for our state. There are many reasons why a driver might accidentally hit someone who is exercising on the street, but here are some of the most common reasons we have seen:
- Distracted Driving: A driver may be distracted by his or her cell phone, food, drink, or passengers. Unfortunately, it does not take much to take one's eyes off the road, and yet the consequences can be life-changing. Even with advanced technology that allows us to use our devices without holding them, studies have shown that even fostering a conversation with another person over the phone or in the vehicle is enough of a distraction to lower our sense of awareness.
- Unpredictable Pedestrian Movement: Marked lanes and sidewalks exist for a reason. They give the driver a way to anticipate exactly where a pedestrian will be if they are on or near the road at all. Any sudden movements that happen outside of these parameters make it difficult for the driver to predict the pedestrian's movements.
- Imperceptible Pedestrians: It is encouraged that pedestrians always wear some kind of reflective gear or clothing to make themselves visible. Without these aides, it can be very difficult for a driver to see a pedestrian on the road.
- Drunk Driving: Naturally, drunk driving completely impairs one's judgement. Not only do you run the risk of not being able to notice another person on the road, but your ability to react appropriately and quickly is weakened.
Contact an Attorney You Can Trust
If you or a loved one are the victim of a car accident as a jogger, you should contact a trusted lawyer today to start filing the claim you need. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation for your experience and pain. Everything costs money: medical bills, appointments, time-off work, and therapy. If you were hit by someone else, it is important that you contact a lawyer immediately so that a trained professional can help you document evidence and details while they are still fresh on your mind. Your job, at this point, is to simply recover as quickly as possible. Contact us at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh so that we can start the process to your legal recovery today.