The impact of a motor vehicle against a pedestrian often leaves the latter with severe injuries. In some cases, accident victims may never make a full recovery. Even in minor collisions that occur at low speeds, pedestrians are afforded no protection against the size and speed of a car.
If you were struck by a car, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the driver. While your injuries may be severe, you still must prove that the driver was responsible for the collision to collect compensation. This can be a complex process, and unrepresented plaintiffs can find themselves quickly overwhelmed.
A relentless Omaha pedestrian accident lawyer can work to conduct his or her own investigation into the incident, shield you from aggressive insurance companies, and make demands for every dollar of compensation that you deserve. With one of the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Berry Law handling the details of your case, you could focus on healing physically and getting your life back on track.
Proving a Motorist Is at Fault in an Omaha Pedestrian Accident
Most pedestrian accidents involve a motorist striking someone walking across or near the road. When a driver acts negligently behind the wheel, he or she can face responsibility for any injuries that result.
One of the most important steps in filing a pedestrian accident case is using the legal theory of negligence to prove fault. To claim negligence, you must show that the driver had a duty to protect your wellbeing, that duty was broken, and that this failure directly caused your injuries.
Because all motorists assume a responsibility to drive safely when they get behind the wheel, a skilled lawyer would argue that the at-fault party had a clear duty of care to protect you as you crossed the street. Furthermore, you can gather medical records and doctors’ reports to establish a link between the accident and your injuries.
What Constitutes a Breach of Duty?
Where most pedestrian accident cases become complicated is proving that the driver failed in their duty to protect a pedestrian, also known as a breach of duty. In most cases, you must show that the at-fault driver was violating a rule of the road, or at the very least, was driving carelessly. Common examples of actions that may constitute a breach in the duty of care include:
- Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk
- Ignoring a stop sign
- Texting while driving
- Aggressive driving
- Fatigued driving
- Drunk driving
A pedestrian accident attorney in Omaha can work quickly to help you gather evidence that the driver was negligent. It is vital to begin seeking evidence before it becomes lost or damaged. Additionally, you should work quickly to avoid missing the filing deadline.
Understanding Comparative Fault
It is often assumed that the motorist is the only at-fault party in a pedestrian accident case. While this is true in most situations, there are cases when a pedestrian could share some of the fault for the accident. For example, if you suddenly step into the path of a moving vehicle outside of a crosswalk, you could share some of the blame for the accident.
In Omaha, an injured person whose degree of fault is less than that of the at-fault party has the right to pursue compensation. However, a pedestrian whose share of fault is equal to or greater than that of the other party will not be able to obtain restitution. This legal concept is known as comparative fault.
How Partial Fault Affects Your Potential Compensation
Under comparative fault laws, your share of the blame for the accident impacts how much compensation you receive. When a judge or jury awards compensation in these cases, they are required to reduce the total amount received by the injured party by his or her degree of fault.
For example, if you were 25 percent responsible for your injuries, and your damages award was $100,000, you would only receive $75,000 in compensation. The rules surrounding comparative fault are complex, but they are only one of many challenging issues that could arise during a pedestrian accident trial. The guidance of a seasoned attorney could be invaluable throughout the course of your pedestrian accident case.
Potential Compensation for Injured Pedestrians
The amount of compensation you receive after a pedestrian accident depends heavily on the severity of your injuries and the extent of your medical expenses. Common examples of injuries that may warrant a pedestrian accident case include:
- Severe cuts and scrapes
- Broken bones
- Dislocated joints
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Full or partial paralysis
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
If you and your attorney are successful in proving negligence, the court will require the negligent party to pay restitution for all your current and future losses. This can involve providing payments to reimburse you for medical expenses, lost income due to missed time at work, pain and suffering, and mental anguish connected to the accident. A hard-working lawyer in Omaha can work with you to properly valuate your pedestrian accident case and demand appropriate compensation from insurance companies.
The overwhelming medical expenses are the most difficult part of dealing with a pedestrian accident for many people. Even when your wounds heal, the outstanding hospital bills can remain.
The good news is that you can seek financial compensation for past and future medical expenses through your personal injury lawsuit. Medical expenses may include the cost of hospital stays, surgical procedures, physical therapy, prescription medication, and more.
Most pedestrians involved in collisions with motor vehicles suffer severe injuries that prevent them from returning to work right away. You could miss weeks or even months of work as you recover. During that time, you might find yourself without adequate income to support yourself and your family. A successful personal injury lawsuit could recover past and future lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering
The injuries resulting from a pedestrian accident are often extremely painful. This physical suffering could last a lifetime, especially if your injuries result in nerve damage. You and your attorney can seek compensation for this physical pain. While these emotional losses are subjective, many courts will award pain and suffering compensation based on the extent of your medical bills.
Many people who survive a pedestrian accident relive the trauma of the event for the rest of their lives. This trauma could remain long after your physical injuries have healed. Monetary benefits could be available based on this mental anguish. As is the case with pain and suffering, this form of compensation is subjective.
The Statute of Limitations Applies to Pedestrian Accidents
The statute of limitations is the legal deadline for filing a lawsuit. According to Nebraska Revised Statute §25-207, the statute of limitations for pedestrian accidents is four years from the date of the accident.
Four years is a longer window of time than most other jurisdictions around the country. However, you should not hesitate to seek legal counsel after an accident, as doing so could harm your case.
What Happens if You Miss the Filing Deadline?
The consequences of violating the statute of limitations are steep. If you file your case after the legal deadline, the at-fault party will typically seek an immediate dismissal with prejudice. In most circumstances, the court will have little choice but to grant that motion.
A dismissal with prejudice does more than simply bring a lawsuit to an end. It also permanently bars the filing party from ever bringing their case again in the future. These dismissals will end any possibility of recovering a monetary award at trial or even an insurance claim. Given the importance of the statute of limitations, you should seek the guidance of an attorney early on in the process.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations to be aware of. According to Nebraska Revised Statute § 30-810, if a pedestrian accident results in a fatal injury, the filing deadline for a wrongful death lawsuit is only two years from the death of the person. Likewise, the deadline could be extended in some cases. For example, minors that are injured in pedestrian accidents typically have additional time to file their case.
An Omaha Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Protect Your Rights
It may be easy to assume that the court will automatically blame a driver for any collision with a pedestrian. This belief leads many injured parties to try to take on the insurance company without an attorney.
The fact of the matter is that a filing party in a pedestrian accident case must prove that the at-fault driver was negligent. This is a complex legal analysis that examines the actions of not just the driver but also of the injured individual.
An Omaha pedestrian accident lawyer from Berry Law can help by working to prove defendant negligence and protect your right to collect compensation. Our attorneys understand the immense impact that these incidents can have on someone’s life, but they also know that you are injured—not broken. Call on Berry Law to get started on your case and take charge of your situation.