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How to avoid becoming a casualty while walking your dog

Many of us arrive home from work in the evening to a four-legged family member anxious for the nightly walk. As the hours of daylight decrease this time of year, these walks are more likely to be in the dark.

If you're walking your dog before dawn or after nightfall, it's essential to take added precautions to keep both of you safe. Even if you stay on the sidewalk, if you occasionally need to cross a street, it's crucial to make sure that you're easily visible to motorists.

Wearing a bright coat or having reflective material on your outerwear and shoes is an easy way to improve your visibility in dark, foggy and rainy weather. The same is true for your dog. There are multiple reflective leashes, collars, coats and boots that help keep your pooch from blending into the night.

Just as being seen is crucial to safety, so is seeing what's ahead of and around you. A small flashlight can help you avoid tripping hazards, a slippery pile of leaves and more. Some dog leashes even have built-in flashlights.

It may be wise to adjust your route if you're walking in the dark or if the weather is bad. Avoid busy streets, if possible. Also, avoid streets and sidewalks that aren't well-lit.

Walking with others is generally safer than walking alone. Try to convince another family member to join you or your walk. Maybe you and a neighbor can arrange to walk your dogs together. Multiple people are easier for motorists to spot than a single pedestrian. They're also less likely to be the victims of violent crimes than a person walking alone -- even with a dog.

If you've been the victim of a pedestrian-vehicle crash, you could be looking at significant medical bills as well as lost income and other financial hardship. If a loved one has been killed by a motorist, you may have lost one of the family's breadwinners. If a negligent, reckless or intoxicated driver was at fault for the crash, it's essential to find out what your legal options are for seeking the compensation you and your family need and deserve as you move forward.

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