Whenever a car strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian almost always sustains injuries in the accident. The impact force may knock the pedestrian to the ground—or onto another vehicle. As a result of their injuries, the pedestrian may need to undergo surgery, physical therapy, or other medical treatment. In the worst pedestrian accident cases, the victim suffers a fatal injury. There are legal options for pedestrians hit by cars.
If you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, you have legal options. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in your area can review the circumstances of the accident with you, discuss your options, and help you select the best one for your case. Sometimes, you can file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. At other times, your lawyer may need to file a lawsuit in court and litigate your case.
No matter your circumstances, a pedestrian accident lawyer can assist you every step of the way and work to bring your case to a favorable conclusion.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrian accidents can occur wherever pedestrians are present, including in parking lots and garages and at intersection crosswalks. The injuries that a pedestrian suffers in the crash depend upon the force of impact, how they fall to the ground, and what, if any, body parts they strike on the ground when they fall.
Common pedestrian accident injuries include:
- Broken bones.
- Soft tissue injuries.
- Traumatic head and brain injuries.
- Internal organ damage.
- Cuts and abrasions.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Full or partial paralysis.
When a pedestrian suffers injuries in an accident, they must seek prompt medical treatment as soon as possible after that. This typically means they should follow up at a local urgent care center or hospital emergency room. Alternatively, they can follow up with their primary care doctor if they have one.
The medical provider can examine their condition and, if necessary, order MRIs, CAT scans, and X-rays to fully diagnose them. If the accident victim requires emergency surgery or other procedure, the provider can arrange for that. Finally, the medical provider can recommend future care and follow-up treatment, such as with an orthopedic specialist, neurologist, or physical therapist.
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you should seek medical treatment early and often. Failing to do so may cause your injuries to become worse over time. Moreover, failing to obtain prompt medical treatment may cast your personal injury claim in a negative light.
Insurance company adjusters are often skeptical in these circumstances, believing that your injuries were not all that serious—or that you did not make your medical treatment a priority after the accident. Consequently, the adjuster may not offer you the full compensation you deserve to recover for your injuries.
While you treat your pedestrian accident injuries, a knowledgeable lawyer in your area can begin handling the legal aspects of your claim. They can gather up your medical documentation, photographs, lost wage statements, and other paperwork and assemble these documents into a complete settlement demand package.
Once you finish your medical treatment, they can forward the demand package—along with a settlement demand letter—to the insurance company adjuster for their review. If the insurance company accepts fault for your accident, your lawyer can negotiate a settlement offer or litigate your case in the court system. Your lawyer will help you through every step of the process and work to maximize the compensation you ultimately recover in your accident case.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents typically result from driver error and negligence. Common negligent acts that cause pedestrian accidents include violating road rules, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving.
Speeding is one common road rule violation that causes pedestrian accidents.
This is especially true if a driver speeds through a parking lot or parking garage—or near a busy traffic intersection where pedestrians are present. When drivers engage in aggressive driving or road rage, they might also fail to see a pedestrian in the vicinity, negligently striking them. Also, when drivers tailgate near intersections, they might be in such a hurry that they fail to see a pedestrian who is present in a crosswalk, carelessly striking them and causing them serious injuries.
Another common cause of pedestrian accidents is distracted driving. A driver is distracted when they fail to pay attention to the road. Instead of watching the road, the driver might be playing with a cellular phone, tablet, or GPS device. Other potential vehicle distractions include loud music playing in the car and small children misbehaving in the back seat. Even when a driver turns their head from the road for a mere second or two, that can be sufficient time for them to miss seeing a nearby pedestrian, causing a severe accident.
Pedestrian accidents also happen when drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol can significantly impair a driver’s vision and reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid striking a pedestrian. Moreover, depending upon the amount of alcohol in their system, they may not even see the pedestrian or notice them approaching.
Under most circumstances, a driver is legally intoxicated when they operate their vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Stricter standards apply to minors who are under 21 years of age and commercial vehicle drivers, including large truck and tractor-trailer operators.
When a driver is under the influence, a police officer can arrest them for DUI, and if they sustain a conviction, they can incur significant penalties, such as fines and jail time. Moreover, if they cause an accident that injures a pedestrian, they and their insurance companies can be responsible for the resulting damages.
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident resulting from driver negligence, you should speak with an experienced lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident and, if necessary, retain an accident reconstructionist who can piece together what happened. Your lawyer can also review copies of the police report and speak with eyewitnesses to determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim for damages. If you are, your lawyer can file the claim on your behalf and negotiate a settlement offer with the responsible driver’s insurance company.
Filing an Insurance Claim for Damages
The first method of pursuing monetary compensation after a pedestrian accident is to file a legal claim. In most instances, the accident victim’s lawyer will file the personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s motor vehicle insurer. As part of the claim, the accident victim’s lawyer will include copies of all pertinent documents, as well as a formal demand letter for settlement. The insurance company adjuster may then make an initial offer to resolve the pedestrian accident claim—assuming they admit responsibility for the accident.
Most initial settlement offers are meager and far below the actual value of the claim. Insurance companies make low offers to see if accident victims are in a hurry to settle. After all, the insurance company wants to save itself as much money as possible by paying out very little money to satisfy the claim.
Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster several times until the adjuster makes a better offer—or they reach an impasse. If the adjuster refuses to offer you the total amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and begin litigating your case. Finally, your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept or reject a pending settlement offer from the insurance company.
Litigate Your Case and Take it to Trial
Another legal option that pedestrian accident victims have for recovering monetary compensation is to pursue litigation. The litigation process begins when an accident victim’s lawyer files a lawsuit in the court system. Litigation is often necessary when insurance companies refuse to accept full responsibility for the pedestrian accident or when the insurer refuses to offer adequate compensation to make the accident victim whole again.
In either instance, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and begin litigating the personal injury case on your behalf. Even after filing a lawsuit, your lawyer may continue their settlement negotiations with the insurance company adjuster, and if the case settles, your lawyer can dismiss the lawsuit.
However, if the case does proceed through litigation, the parties will engage in discovery. During this time, they will exchange documents and answer written questions called interrogatories. The defense lawyer may also take the accident victim’s discovery deposition. Your lawyer will prepare you for your deposition well in advance so that you can testify thoroughly and convincingly about your accident.
Sometimes, after discovery concludes, the insurance company adjuster increases their settlement offer, and the parties resolve their case. At other times, the parties will need to take their case to court and allow a judge or jury to decide the outcome. A judge or jury will decide all disputed issues, including the amount of monetary compensation to award the injured pedestrian.
Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept a settlement offer or litigate your case and take it to a judge or jury trial. Your lawyer can explain the pros and cons of each option and help you make an informed decision in your case.
Pursuing Alternative Dispute Resolution
Another option that pedestrian accident victims may have to resolve their cases is alternative dispute resolution (ADR). ADR offers the parties an opportunity to resolve their claim amicably without the need for a jury trial. The two most common types of alternative dispute resolution are mediation and binding arbitration.
During a mediation hearing, the parties meet with a neutral, third-party mediator who facilitates several rounds of settlement discussions between them. The mediator tries to bring the parties closer together in terms of a settlement number. Sometimes, cases resolve at mediation, while at other times, they do not.
Another common ADR mechanism is binding arbitration. During binding arbitration, the parties agree to allow a neutral, third-party arbitrator to hear and evaluate evidence in the case. The parties present evidence to the arbitrator, just as they would to a jury if the case had gone to trial. The arbitrator then decides the amount of money to award the injured pedestrian within specific pre-set parameters.
A knowledgeable pedestrian accident lawyer in your area can help you determine if mediation or binding arbitration might be beneficial for your case. Your lawyer will then do everything possible to help you maximize the compensation you recover.
Time Limits in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Pedestrian accident victims have a limited time period in which to file a claim or lawsuit for damages. Specifically, accident victims must file their lawsuits within two years of the accident. If they fail to file the lawsuit in a timely manner, they waive their right to recover monetary damages for their injuries.
Therefore, it is essential that you speak with a knowledgeable pedestrian accident lawyer near you as soon as possible after your accident. Your lawyer can promptly review the statutory deadline in your case and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawyer can then begin settlement negotiations—and litigation—in your personal injury case.
Call a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you or a person you care about suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries. Next, you should contact a knowledgeable pedestrian accident lawyer in your area.
Your lawyer can start working on your claim right away and pursuing the compensation you deserve. If the insurance company refuses to take your case seriously and will not offer you fair damages, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system, continue negotiating with the claims adjuster, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion.
Your lawyer can represent you at all courtroom proceedings, including a jury trial or arbitration hearing, and aggressively fight for your right to recover the damages you deserve.
Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.