There were some 6,590 pedestrian deaths in 2019, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Administration. Since only partial data exists for 2019, this is only an estimate. If it’s accurate, this marks a 5% increase from 2018 and a 60% jump from 2009. Residents of New Jersey should be aware that pedestrian fatalities, after seeing a decline beginning in 1988, have continually been going up since 2009.

In fact, 6,590 is the most number of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. since 1988. The fatality rate, which came to 2.0 deaths per 100,000 people, was last equaled in 1997. On the other hand, all other traffic deaths rose 2% between 2009 and 2018. The GHSA says that improvements in vehicle safety have helped prevent a bigger increase.

A sizeable percentage (47%) of the fatalities were reported in five states: California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia and Florida. Altogether, these states comprise around a third of the population in the U.S. The fatality rates varied with the highest being found in Florida, New Mexico and Hawaii.

Several factors explain the increase in fatalities. One is that many more drivers are distracting themselves with their phones. Another is that more people are driving SUVs and light trucks, and these larger vehicles are more likely to fatally injure pedestrians.

Under a wrongful death claim, the family of a fatally injured pedestrian may seek compensation as long as the decedent was not at fault. If the claim is successful, the family may be reimbursed for funeral and burial expenses, lost income, loss of consortium and the cost of any medical treatments the victim underwent before dying. Filing a claim and negotiating for a settlement with insurance companies can be difficult, so it may be wise to hire a lawyer.