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Increased risk of death found for accident victims in wheelchairs

Those riding bicycles or traveling on foot are extremely vulnerable on New York roads, but a study conducted by Georgetown University researchers indicates that wheelchair users face even greater dangers. The study, which was published in November 2015 in the medical journal BMJ Open, found that wheelchair users were 36 percent more likely to lose their lives after being struck by a motor vehicle than other pedestrians.

The researchers reached their conclusions after analyzing accident data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the research organization LexisNexis. The data revealed around 528 wheelchair users were killed after being struck by a motor vehicle between 2006 and 2012. More than 80 percent of these fatalities were men, and most of the victims were in intersections when they were struck.

The researchers provided a number of recommendations that they believe could reduce the risks for those confined to a wheelchair, and chief among them was a reminder to drivers to pay more attention to pedestrian traffic. City planners could also help to reduce the dangers by consulting the Americans with Disabilities Act when designing roads and sidewalks. The researchers pointed out that wheelchair users are often forced into the road by poorly designed pedestrian infrastructure. However, the researchers did concede that those in wheelchairs sometimes have underlying medical conditions that would make surviving a motor vehicle accident less likely.

The victims of pedestrian accidents often suffer life-changing injuries, and they may be unable to work and earn a living during lengthy periods of medical treatment and physical therapy. When their injuries were caused by the negligence of a motorist, personal injury attorneys may pursue civil remedies on their behalf by filing lawsuits against the drivers responsible. This litigation could seek damages to compensate the victims for their medical bills and other losses that have been incurred.

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