Not everyone travels by bus or car—some people choose to walk to nearby businesses or restaurants. Traffic signals, sidewalks, and crosswalks allow people to navigate the roads safely. However, they still are at risk of being hit by a motor vehicle.
If a car or other vehicle struck you as a pedestrian, you likely had to go to the emergency room for treatment. Your medical bills may pile up, and you may face financial uncertainty. If the driver who hit you acted negligently, filing a pedestrian accident claim can help you get the money you need.
Examples of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents occur more frequently than some people believe. Annually, around 6,205 traffic fatalities involve pedestrians on public roads. Most traumatic events happen at night when less light reduces visibility.
Incidents can come in various forms:
- Parking lot accidents. When a driver backs up from a parking space, they need to know what is behind them. They have to move slowly since dozens of people might walk past. A motorist might not see someone move behind the vehicle and hit the person.
- Construction sites. When construction workers do roadwork, they may need to be on the street. Signs and traffic cones help warn drivers to slow down and direct them away from the worksite. A driver might speed up or become distracted and collide with someone.
- Off-road collisions. If a person loses control of their car, they could veer off the road. The vehicle could crash into a pedestrian on the sidewalk or a curb.
- Intersections. When people cross an intersection, they usually use a crosswalk. They could sustain injuries if a car makes a turn and does not stop. For example, a vehicle could run a red light and collide with someone on the crosswalk.
No pedestrian accident is the same. A lawyer can help you determine what caused your accident and how to go about filing a claim if necessary.
Injuries in a Pedestrian Accident
Since pedestrians do not have protection, they can sustain severe injuries anywhere on the body. The lower extremities, head, and neck are especially vulnerable. Other common injuries include:
Many collision victims sustain fractures in their hands, wrists, arms, torso, or legs. The bone could have a minor crack, or a piece might break through the skin. In severe cases, a broken rib can puncture an organ.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Pedestrians are vulnerable to back injuries as well. Damage to the spinal cord can result in partial or complete loss of function below the injury site. Some people can regain function through rehabilitation. However, others face permanent paralysis.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head trauma may cause a traumatic brain injury. A pedestrian’s head might strike the hood of a vehicle or the ground. Signs of a traumatic brain injury can take a while to appear, and a person could experience mood swings, headaches, or nausea.
Children and older adults are more at risk of head injuries than other age groups. Head injuries can be life-altering, and acute damage can be life-threatening. An early diagnosis may help reduce the symptoms.
The Average Cost of Recovery
With insurance, the average stay at a hospital in the United States costs $2,607 per day, while staying overnight costs $11,700. Uninsured patients pay slightly less, but their bills average $9,300 for an overnight stay.
If patients require surgery, their costs increase exponentially since surgeries generally cost thousands of dollars. A surgery bill includes anesthesia, surgeon’s fee, operating room costs, and pre-surgery care. While insurers may pay a portion of the price, even insured patients usually have to spend a lot out of pocket.
Injured victims may need to purchase prescription medication for short or long-term care. Different factors influence how much money you spend; typically, insured patients pay less out of pocket for prescription medication than uninsured patients.
If doctors prescribe physical therapy, insurance policies typically pay for most visits. Meanwhile, insurance co-payments could range from $25 to $75. Of course, without insurance, the price is higher.
Pedestrian accidents take a financial toll as well as a physical one. Many pedestrian accident victims file a claim to pay for their injury expenses.
Insurance Company Strategies
The insurance adjuster may try to minimize or deny your claim. Insurance companies use a variety of tactics to avoid paying out a significant settlement.
A few well-known strategies include:
- Delays: In some cases, the adjuster avoids processing the injured person’s paperwork. Life can get busy, and you may not have enough time to stay on top of a claim. When you do call the adjuster, you might not reach anyone. An adjuster can take weeks to call back. Alternatively, the adjuster might reassign your claim to someone else, passing your case from person to person while delaying your claim.
- Medical authorization forms: The insurance company may ask you to sign a medical authorization form that allows them to view your past medical records. Insurers aim to find a previous condition to blame for your injuries.
- Shift the blame: Some insurance companies argue that the injured party caused the accident. The adjuster could claim that you did not use a crosswalk or exercise reasonable caution. If the insurer successfully blames you, you could end up with less or no compensation.
The insurance company may pressure or intimidate you since they know how vulnerable you are during recovery. Do not accept an offer from an insurance company without discussing your options with a pedestrian accident lawyer first. Reach out to a lawyer to avoid an insurance company’s tactics.
What Happens if the Victim Was a Child?
In many states, victims under 18 cannot file a pedestrian accident claim. However, a parent or legal guardian can bring a lawsuit on behalf of the child. Some places allow emancipated minors to bring claims.
Several jurisdictions allow the statute of limitation to pause until the minor becomes of age. Generally, they have a limited time to claim damages after their 18th birthday. Nevertheless, injured children can recover damages. Minors can receive money for physical and mental pain and suffering. Speak with a lawyer in your state to find out the rules for when you need to file your claim.
Debilitating injuries can impact a child’s ability to earn an income during adulthood. The court may calculate the expected lost future earnings for the settlement.
Unlike adults, children do not get compensation immediately after a case resolves. Instead, the funds go into a secure account once the judge approves the settlement offer. When the child turns 18, they start to receive the money. Parents can file a separate claim for medical and other expenses related to the child’s injuries.
The court could determine that the injured child was partially negligent in the accident based on their age. The defendant may build their argument around the carelessness of the minor. A pedestrian accident lawyer can protect your child’s right to compensation and make a strong case in your favor.
Can You Pursue Compensation if You Did Not Use a Crosswalk?
Some people do not use a crosswalk when crossing the street and get injured. They might not believe they have a valid case and do not seek compensation. However, these victims could still seek compensation for their losses.
The driver still owes a duty of care to watch out for pedestrians. Your lawyer may discover that the driver was distracted or tired. In that case, the motorist might still be liable even if the victim did not use a crosswalk. If you are unsure whether you have a valid pedestrian accident claim, schedule a consultation with a lawyer to discuss your case.
Pedestrian Accident Claims Against the Government
In a few reported cases, the driver of a government vehicle acted negligently and injured a pedestrian. Most states allow the injured party to hold the local or state government accountable. However, pedestrian accident claims against an agency have different rules.
For example, you might have a shorter time limit to begin your case. You could have anywhere from 10 to 120 days before you no longer have a right to seek compensation. Find a lawyer soon after the incident to ensure you meet the deadline.
Furthermore, you must send a notice of claim to the government before a lawsuit starts. The court has guidelines for injured people to follow. Typically, the document must include the name of each entity involved, details about the accident and your injuries, and you must submit it to the correct department.
In some states, the government is immune from liability in some scenarios. You should ask your attorney whether pursuing compensation from the government is possible in your case.
What You Need for a Successful Lawsuit
You can improve your case by getting statements from witnesses. When an accident occurs, you should obtain the names and contact information of people who saw what happened. They can describe their version of events and show how the driver was at fault.
If you cannot speak to witnesses at the time, your lawyer can get a copy of the police report. Reports generally contain information about people who saw the accident. It is important to record their statements soon since memory becomes less reliable over time.
Your lawyer might hire expert witnesses to provide testimonies. Expert witnesses are trained professionals who add credibility to your case. Examples include forensic experts, doctors, and nurses.
Pictures and Video
Visuals prevent the insurance company from downplaying your injuries. You should have photos to document the seriousness of your initial injuries. Images can include the surrounding area as well.
During the lawsuit process, your lawyer collects any available footage. Footage can come from a vehicle’s dash-cam or a nearby street camera. Videos show what the driver did leading up to the accident.
The reports from your hospital visit show the severity of the pedestrian accident, making the insurance company less likely to argue against the legitimacy of your claim. You can use the documents to show how the driver’s actions caused your injuries.
Medical records help you determine how much you should ask for in a settlement. Ensure you see a doctor and have follow-up visits for an accurate calculation.
Can You Sue the Defendant After a Settlement?
No. After your case resolves, you may discover that you have more damages than you initially expected. After accepting a settlement offer, you cannot reopen your claim again for more compensation. The defendant has the plaintiff sign a release form during the settlement process, making the settlement final.
You agree to release the other party from future liability when signing the document. As a result, you cannot sue them for the same accident. The court allows a couple of exceptions for people to reopen a case. An example is if you discovered another party was negligent. While you cannot sue the previous individual, you can hold another one liable.
For these reasons, speaking with a pedestrian accident lawyer before you file a claim or accept a settlement offer can help you protect your rights. A lawyer can help you seek the compensation you deserve and fight for your rights. Contact a law office for a consultation if you have more questions.