Pedestrians are present along most roadways at any given time. Whether an individual is on their daily commute, on a lunch break, taking a stroll, or jogging, there are many reasons people travel by foot throughout the day.
As part of their travels, pedestrians can encounter many vehicles. For example, those walking in big cities and urban areas are likely to encounter congested intersections and busy crosswalks as they walk along the roads.
Pedestrians traveling in neighborhoods and rural areas may experience fewer vehicles but must still worry about driveways, hidden roads, and other dangers on their journey.
Pedestrian accidents are frequent and often result in serious, if not fatal, injuries when a person and vehicle collide. As soon as an accident happens, questions form. For example, how did the pedestrian crash happen? Who is at fault? What were the parties doing before the crash occurred?
As these questions circulate, you may think about your actions and question whether you were right or wrong in the moments before the accident happened. Your doubts and feelings are common, but the reality is that you are likely not the sole cause of the collision, and the actions of another probably led to your injuries.
The Cause of a Pedestrian Accident is Most Likely the Driver’s Negligence
Accidents between pedestrians and vehicles are commonplace. With more vehicles on the roads and pedestrians navigating busy streets, incidents will inevitably occur. For example, in the U.S., over 104,000 pedestrians will suffer injuries severe enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room yearly. Sadly, an additional 7,000 pedestrians will lose their life in an accident involving a vehicle during this same time.
While numerous factors play a part in the events leading to a pedestrian collision, a common underlying cause is the vehicle driver’s actions. The threat that drivers pose to a pedestrian is significant. A massive machine weighing thousands of pounds striking a person can devastatingly impact the victim. When an analysis of the evidence shows that a driver’s negligence is to blame for crashing into a pedestrian, they are liable for the injuries they cause and the damages that arise.
Common Scenarios in Which a Driver’s Negligence Leads to a Collision with a Pedestrian
A negligent driver may not always be evident in the moments after a pedestrian accident. While you may see what led to the accident, it is also likely you did not see what transpired until it was too late.
The truth is it is not always clear why a driver struck a pedestrian or what actions they took in the moments leading up to the crash. Various investigations take place following a pedestrian crash that can reveal evidence of what occurred.
Possible causes of a pedestrian accident involving a negligent driver:
- Drunk driver
- Impaired driver under the influence of drugs
- Distracted driving
- Driver falling asleep
- Reckless driver
- Failing to follow traffic lights and signals
Other Potential Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
In some situations, another contributing factor aside from a driver’s action leads to a pedestrian’s injuries. These circumstances might be beyond the driver’s or pedestrian’s control, leading to the collision and subsequent injuries and damages, but another party may still be liable.
Other negligent causes of pedestrian accidents:
- Poor lighting or broken streetlights
- Malfunctioning crosswalks or traffic signals
- Lack of safe pedestrian crossings
- Insufficient markings or traffic signs to warn drivers of pedestrian crossing
- Road work obstructing pedestrian paths
Your Reasonable Care Versus a Driver’s Duty of Care
When discussing negligence and fault for a pedestrian accident, you may hear mention of a party’s duty of care and whether an individual exercised reasonable care at the time of the accident. Duty of care is essential in fault determination and determining whether a driver’s actions are negligent.
An insurer may also look to your actions to determine whether you exercised reasonable care and how that might influence their liability and the overall apportionment of fault for an accident.
An insurance company or party at fault can use this tactic to lower your compensation or eliminate their liability. This part is where having a knowledgeable and experienced pedestrian accident attorney will greatly benefit you. Your attorney will fight for you and ensure that the defendants in the case do not make claims without a basis in evidence or fact.
Proving a Motor Vehicle Driver’s Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident
At the crash scene, the police will arrive when called and conduct a preliminary investigation based on their observations of the evidence and any witness testimony. During this time, the officer may ticket the party they believe violated the law or even place a party under arrest if they committed a crime when the crash occurred.
Although it indicates what party is likely at fault, the officer’s determination is not the final say in an insurance claim or lawsuit. While the officer’s report is evidence, the insurance company will conduct its own fault determination based on its interpretation of negligence in the accident.
Furthermore, when a victim files a lawsuit in court, they can challenge the insurer’s determination if they believe there are mistakes or there is evidence that the insurer failed to take into account. In a lawsuit, the court can decide who is negligent in their actions and, in turn, liable for the injuries and damages sustained in the pedestrian accident.
To establish the negligence of a driver towards a pedestrian, the victim of the accident must show:
- First, that the driver owed you a duty of care
- Secondly, the driver, whether through their direct actions or inaction, breached the duty of care owed
- Next, that you suffered harm.
- Lastly, the harm you sustained was due to the breach of care by the driver.
Can You Sue for the Injuries You Sustain as a Pedestrian?
When you sustain injuries in a traffic accident as a pedestrian, your rights to compensation are not different than any other driver or occupant of a vehicle involved in a car accident. You have a right to seek compensation for your injuries and losses from the accident against the party at fault.
You may have several options regarding your ability to seek compensation, and a lawsuit is one of the options commonly available to an accident victim. Filing a lawsuit, however, is not an easy task or something you should do on your own. To file a lawsuit in court for compensation, it is often better to exhaust other alternatives first.
When you consult with a pedestrian accident lawyer, they will go over your options and discuss when a lawsuit might become necessary in your situation.
Most pedestrian accident cases will settle without going through a trial.
In some instances, pursuing a lawsuit through the court will be your best or only option. This scenario is most common in cases where injuries are severe and costly, the insurer is disputing who is at fault or refuses to accept liability, or there is no insurance coverage available and you must personally sue the party or parties responsible.
What Alternative Do You Have to Seek Compensation for Your Losses?
Your first possible option to get compensation for your losses is to file and go through the insurance claims process. For example, when a vehicle causes a pedestrian accident, you as the pedestrian victim can pursue compensation through the insurance company contracted by the driver to provide coverage for the driver and their vehicle. Most jurisdictions have some form of compulsory vehicle liability insurance required of drivers if they cause harm to another due to their actions.
In most cases, the insurance coverage will be in effect at the time of the accident. Your attorney will help you navigate the insurance claims process and negotiate with the insurer to reach a payout under the policy that meets your needs.
However, some individuals may not have insurance, or for some reason, the insurance coverage does not apply to the accident. In these cases, an attorney can help you determine whether filing a lawsuit personally against the party responsible is possible, if it is worth your time, or if there may be another party that is also liable to you for the accident.
Does Having a Lawyer Better Your Chances at Recovery in a Pedestrian Injury Case?
Yes. While hiring an attorney does not guarantee that you will get compensation, it is a worthwhile step in the compensation process following a pedestrian accident. The other parties in your case, such as the insurer or driver responsible for striking you, will do anything to protect their assets and bottom line. They will not make it easy for you to recover your losses.
An attorney representing you and your interests in a pedestrian crash will approach your case aggressively. They will build your case and manage the other parties to ensure they do not overstep your rights or ignore the evidence. Having a pedestrian accident attorney greatly improves your position and the likelihood that you will reach a positive resolution in the matter.
When Should You Contact a Lawyer if You Are in a Pedestrian Accident?
You should call a pedestrian lawyer as soon as you can. When you suffer serious injuries requiring hospitalization or surgery, it may take time to get your bearings and feel stable enough to make the call. Your priority is your health and getting the medical attention you need.
Once you physically can, contact a pedestrian accident attorney to set up a free consultation.
A pedestrian accident insurance claim and case begins the moment an accident happens. Insurance companies and the party to blame are often in a hurry to get the claim underway and resolved. The sooner you hire a lawyer on your behalf, the sooner you can feel at ease knowing your pedestrian case and rights are in good hands.
The Statute of Limitations Applicable to Pedestrian Traffic Accidents
Getting your case underway sooner can help you build a stronger case while memories are fresh and evidence is easily accessible. However, there is an added layer of time pressure following a pedestrian accident. Each jurisdiction or state has unique rules regarding the time that can pass between when an injury occurs and when you must file a lawsuit in court for damages.
This rule is the statute of limitations, and it is a set period which you must abide by to ensure you preserve your right to pursue compensation against the party responsible. A lawyer can inform you of the statute of limitations in your state, as the amount of time can vary significantly from one location to another.
If you are a pedestrian crash victim due to a driver’s negligence, contact a pedestrian accident lawyer near you for your free case evaluation to discuss your legal options.