People enjoy walking for many reasons. It’s a great form of exercise and it helps to reduce motor vehicle pollution. Walking groups are a healthy way to socialize, and our four-legged family members are always excited to get some fresh air. However, whenever you are on foot with cars, trucks, and motorcycles nearby, there’s a chance you could be injured in a pedestrian accident.
Every year, millions of people are seriously hurt after being hit by a car or other vehicle while walking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in one recent year, 60,000 pedestrians were injured in accidents, and tragically, almost 7,400 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes.
Whether you were on a sidewalk, in a crosswalk, or on the side of the road, if you were a pedestrian hit by a car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle, you are probably facing severe injuries and an unknown financial future. You need to understand your legal rights and options as a pedestrian hit by a car. As soon as you are able, reach out to a reputable pedestrian accident lawyer for a free consultation.
Legal Issues to Resolve in a Pedestrian-Auto Accident
A pedestrian hit by a car can suffer catastrophic and even life-threatening injuries. After being struck by a vehicle, your first priority must be your physical and emotional care. While you are receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you should be aware of the many complicated legal issues that arise from these types of accidents.
Some of the many legal questions you’ll have to answer include:
- Who was at fault for your collision?
- How did the accident occur?
- Is there automobile insurance to cover your injuries and losses?
- What expenses will you incur as a result of the crash?
- Will you miss work or lose your job?
- How will your life be changed from this point forward?
- What amount of money could you receive in a pedestrian accident claim?
Depending on the answers to these questions, you also will have various legal options to consider.
Top 7 Legal Options for Pedestrians Hit by Cars
Since every personal injury accident is different, related legal options will vary. The best way to fully understand your unique legal rights is to meet with an experienced personal injury legal team who can review your case and explain your possible options.
To get started, consider the following questions:
1. Who can be held responsible to pay for your legal damages?
Each state has laws that protect pedestrians and grant them certain rights including the right of way in many situations. Walkers should use sidewalks when available and cross at intersections, following any signals. However, even when a pedestrian follows the rules and is where they are supposed to be, a driver may violate the law and cause an accident that seriously injures the walker.
Negligent drivers are usually the cause of vehicle-involved accidents. Some of the most common negligent or reckless behavior that can lead to a pedestrian accident include:
- Failing to check the crosswalk before entering an intersection
- Distracted driving – when a driver takes their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and/or their minds away from the task of driving
- Speeding – if a vehicle is traveling too fast for the situation, it will take longer to stop or swerve to avoid an accident
- Intoxication – drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have poor judgment and driving skills
- Drowsy driving – a sleepy driver can be as dangerous as an intoxicated operator
- Another accident – a two-car accident can force a vehicle onto the sidewalk or other pedestrian area, or a driver trying to avoid an accident can cause another crash with a nearby pedestrian
In each of these common situations, different people may be held responsible for the accident and your related injuries and financial losses. For example, here are some potentially liable parties to consider:
- The primary driver who hit you
- The person who caused an earlier accident
- The owner of the vehicle that hit you
- The employer of a commercial motor vehicle driver who struck you
- A government entity that failed to maintain the road in a safe condition
- A construction company that created a dangerous scenario that led to your accident
To understand all potentially liable parties, talk to a knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorney.
2. Which legal damages can you pursue?
Depending on the jurisdiction where you were injured and the unique circumstances of your crash, you may have the right to pursue compensation for your financial losses, known as legal damages. Some of the most common damages injured pedestrians receive include:
- Medical expenses, both past and future costs for treatment, medication, and medical equipment
- Lost income for current wages, benefits, and more, as well as future losses
- Pain and suffering, both since the accident and expected throughout your life
- Loss of a normal life if your injuries will affect you for some time
- Mental and emotional distress
- The cost to modify your home or vehicle to accommodate your injuries
- Physical and occupational therapy expenses
- Costs associated with permanent impairment
To help document these losses, be sure to continue any recommended medical treatment and keep track of your daily progress and/or challenges. A compassionate personal injury attorney can help organize your financial losses to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible.
3. Should you file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer?
As mentioned above, you may have more than one defendant or insurer to pursue for your losses. If you can file insurance claims against multiple parties, you will be more likely to receive the full amount of your legal damages.
Filing an injury claim is a complicated and time-consuming process. Your injury lawyer will gather all necessary information, evidence, and proof of expenses or losses to create a demand package. Your attorney will send this demand to the insurance companies involved and begin settlement negotiations. Your attorney will provide advice about what a fair settlement may be, but you must decide how to proceed.
4. Should you accept a settlement offer?
Since every pedestrian in a car crash suffers different injuries and financial losses, there is no way to calculate an average payout for a pedestrian hit by a car. Each claim is different and your personal injury lawyer must understand all of the facts involved in your claim to provide the best advice about whether to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company.
Sometimes, the insurer will deny coverage or try to resolve the claim with an extremely low settlement offer. Other times, the insurer will deny that aspects of your injuries were caused by the accident. If the company will not offer a fair and reasonable settlement on your behalf, you may need to escalate your claim into civil litigation.
5. Do you need to file a personal injury lawsuit?
When settlement negotiations stall, or if your statute of limitations is approaching, you may need to file a civil lawsuit against the responsible party who caused your losses. Personal injury lawsuits are complex and involve many rules and court procedures that must be followed or the case could be dismissed.
It’s best to work with a skilled trial attorney from the start of your claim process in case you need to take your case to court. An experienced litigator will prepare your claim, keeping the possibility of trial in mind. Then, if a trial is needed, you’ll be ready.
6. Can you pursue underinsured or uninsured coverage options?
Sometimes, the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or their coverage is not sufficient to pay for your losses. A savvy personal injury lawyer will review your circumstances to determine all possible sources of coverage including your own underinsured or uninsured policy, if available.
Also, if a commercial vehicle was involved, you may be able to file a claim against the driver and their employer if the driver was working at the time of the crash. Business insurance policies usually provide greater coverage than individual driver’s policies.
7. Which lawyer should you work with?
Depending on where you are, you probably have hundreds, if not thousands of personal injury law firms to choose from. When you are ready to begin the injury claim process, you can narrow your search by looking for a lawyer who has experience handling cases where a pedestrian is hit by a car.
Other considerations should include the pedestrian accident lawyer’s trial experience, prior case results, and dedication to their clients. Read client testimonials and ask for referrals from friends and family.
If you are concerned about the cost of working with an injury attorney, studies have shown that injury victims receive more money on average when they hire a lawyer, even after legal fees are paid from the settlement or verdict amount than they would have received if they tried to pursue their claim on their own.
Injury claims and lawsuits are complicated processes, especially while you are trying to manage your medical needs. When you partner with an injury attorney, you can focus on your recovery while letting skilled lawyers handle your legal case and maximize your compensation.
If You are a Pedestrian Who Was Hit by a Car, Trust Berry Law to Protect Your Legal Rights
The legal team at Berry Law is dedicated to helping injured individuals pursue the compensation they need to cover medical expenses, replace lost income, and move forward in their lives after devastating pedestrian accidents. We offer free consultations to ensure you make the best decisions from the very start of your legal journey.