Many people go shopping, commute to and from work, visit friends, and run errands on foot. Taking a walk has many advantages for both the pedestrian and the environment.
For the pedestrian, walking positively affects both physical and mental health. For the environment, more people on foot means reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the benefits, walking makes pedestrians vulnerable when hit by vehicles.
Pedestrians do not have the same level of protection as drivers when a crash occurs. Unlike occupants of cars, pedestrians are not sitting in an enclosed vehicle with safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.
As a result, being struck by a car often leads to severe and debilitating injuries for pedestrians.
If a driver was negligent and hit you while walking on foot, you should not have to pay for your medical bills and other expenses out of pocket. Unfortunately, however, many victims do not understand what caused their accident and how to prove the driver’s fault.
The process of obtaining rightful compensation is often too challenging for non-lawyers.
Always speak with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to explore your options for compensation. An attorney can assess the details of your case and navigate the complex process of filing a personal injury claim.
Common Types of Pedestrian Accidents
Most road accidents where a pedestrian gets struck by a vehicle occur in urban areas where vehicle and pedestrian traffic tends to be high. In a recent year, 84 percent of all pedestrian traffic deaths occurred in urban areas.
Data also showed that most pedestrians died in accidents on open roads compared to intersections (77 percent vs. 23 percent).
Types of pedestrian accidents include:
- Midblock mailbox, where a driver hits a pedestrian who is crossing the road to get to or from a mailbox, ice cream truck, or other objects on the sidewalk.
- Failure to yield at an uncontrolled location, where a driver hits a pedestrian attempting to cross a roadway without traffic signals.
- Multiple-threat crashes, where a motorist in one lane stops for a pedestrian, while motorists in other lanes do not stop and hit the pedestrian.
- Bus-related accidents, where a pedestrian gets hit by a vehicle while getting on or off a bus or crossing in front of a bus.
- Intersection turning accidents, where a pedestrian attempts to cross at an intersection and a vehicle turning left or right strikes them.
- Intersection through accidents, where a pedestrian attempts to cross at an intersection and a vehicle traveling straight hits them.
- Walking along roadway or sidewalk accidents, where a driver hits a pedestrian walking along the sidewalk or shoulder (when no sidewalk is available).
- Standing/working in road accidents, where a driver hits a pedestrian standing on the road (e.g., near a disabled vehicle), working in the road, or otherwise in the middle of the road.
- Backing accidents, where a pedestrian gets hit by a vehicle moving in reverse (backing up).
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users on the road because they have no protection or the same safety features as vehicle occupants. Unfortunately, serious and life-threatening injuries are common in road accidents where a driver hits a pedestrian, not to mention that the fatality rate among pedestrians is rather high.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 8,000 pedestrians died after vehicles struck them on U.S. roadways in a recent year alone. Statistically speaking, pedestrians accounted for one in six traffic accident fatalities that year.
A comprehensive investigation by the NHTSA concluded that the vast majority (94 percent) of critical reasons that lead to accidents, including pedestrian accidents, are attributable to drivers.
Of those, 41 percent were due to recognition errors, which included inadequate surveillance of the road, distractions, and driver inattention, and 33 percent were attributed to decision errors, including driving too fast, misjudging the speed, performing illegal maneuvers, and making false assumptions about other drivers’ actions.
Many causes of pedestrian accidents are attributable to the driver’s recognition and decision errors. Every driver who operates a motor vehicle has a duty of care towards other motorists and pedestrians on the road. In general, motorists must legally yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections.
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, and the law allows them to hold negligent drivers liable for any accidents and injuries they cause.
When a car strikes a pedestrian, the injured pedestrian must demonstrate:
- The driver owed them a duty of care to drive safely
- The driver breached their duty of care
- The breach caused their injury and losses (e.g., medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering).
What Are an Injured Pedestrian’s Compensation Options After an Accident?
When an individual suffers injuries in a pedestrian accident, they have several options for financial compensation for their resulting expenses and losses.
Some of the most common options include:
- Filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer or sue them. In situations where the driver who struck a pedestrian is at fault, the injured pedestrian can make a claim against the driver’s liability insurance company. If the driver does not accept fault or their insurance company refuses to settle the claim for a fair amount, the pedestrian can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and/or their insurer in civil court.
- Filing a claim with your own auto insurance company. When pedestrians own a motor vehicle and have auto insurance, they might seek compensation through their auto insurance company. For example, motorists in no-fault insurance states must typically purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and seek benefits from this coverage first, no matter who is liable. You might also file a claim with your insurance if the liable driver was uninsured, underinsured, or left the scene of the accident. The insurer should cover your expenses up to policy limits.
- Seeking compensation through the at-fault driver’s employer. If the at-fault driver is employed and was performing their job duties when the accident occurred, their employer can be accountable for covering the injured pedestrian’s losses. Employers can be responsible under the theory of vicarious liability even if the employer was not negligent. Companies often have higher policy limits, so more coverage might be available if you can pursue this option.
- Seeking compensation through the government. When a pedestrian gets hit as a result of defects in the road (e.g., improperly designed sidewalks or poorly marked crosswalks), the injured individual can file a claim against the government agency responsible for maintaining the road where the accident took place. However, before suing the government agency, you might want to speak with an attorney and learn more about the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, which may affect your ability to recover damages.
An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can review the facts of your specific case and advise you on the compensation options available to you. No matter how you seek compensation, you should seek legal representation.
Even your own insurance company can make the process challenging and convince you to accept less than you deserve. You need an advocate whether you file a fault-based, no-fault, or UM/UIM claim.
Further, if insurance companies refuse the compensation you deserve, a lawyer makes litigation a viable next step. After an unsuccessful insurance claim, you can pursue your financial recovery in court, and you need an experienced litigator to handle this.
Why You Need an Attorney After a Pedestrian Accident
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as a pedestrian, you might be entitled to compensation by filing an insurance claim or suing the at-fault driver.
However, you must show that the driver acted negligently (e.g., by running a red light or violating any other traffic rule) and that their negligence caused the pedestrian accident and your resulting injuries and losses.
Proving fault in a pedestrian accident may require the assistance of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who will perform an in-depth investigation and represent your best interests during settlement negotiations.
If they cannot obtain a favorable settlement offer, your pedestrian accident lawyer may advise you to take your case to court to secure maximum compensation.
An attorney plays a pivotal role following a pedestrian accident to protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Your attorney can take on the following and more:
- Investigating the scene of the accident and gathering evidence to build a compelling case
- Calculating your damages and losses to ensure that you do not settle for less than you deserve
- Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf to demand a fair and just settlement
- Preparing your case to court
- Filing a lawsuit and representing your best interests in court if out-of-court negotiations fail
When working with a pedestrian accident attorney, you can dedicate your time and energy to healing and getting your life back on track. An attorney will keep you in the loop at every step of the process.
With legal counsel, you can significantly increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome and getting the justice you need.