Nothing beats a long, fast walk. Whether it’s an integral part of your daily exercise routine, getting from point “A” to point “B” or just a relaxing walk to collect your thoughts, walking has many benefits. However, we sometimes forget that walking can be just as dangerous as driving any vehicle. Pedestrians should always be aware of potential hazards in their path, especially cars driven by inattentive drivers.
Pedestrian fatalities are happening in alarming numbers!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 4,700 people are killed in pedestrian accidents each year in the United States. Approximately 66,000 pedestrian accident victims sustain injuries requiring emergency medical treatment each year.
While there are a number of causes for fatal pedestrian-related crashes, the most common fatalities can be attributed to the following:
Pedestrians not walking in driverless areas.
dangerous weather conditions
Time of day (walking at night vs. day)
Age (the very young and the very old)
Driving and/or walking under the influence.
Other important statistics include:
Pedestrians account for approximately 14 percent of traffic deaths nationwide.
Alcohol use and drunk driving are contributing factors in nearly half of all fatal pedestrian accidents.
Approximately one fifth of all pedestrian accidents are also hit-and-run accidents.
Three quarters of all pedestrian deaths occur at night.
20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur at intersections or crosswalks.
Most pedestrian accidents occur in cities and urban areas, especially in areas without sidewalks or crosswalks.
Nearly half of all pedestrian fatalities involve automobiles or other vehicles traveling less than 40 miles (ca. 64 km) per hour.
25 percent of pedestrians involved in a car accident at just 25 miles (ca. 40 km) per hour will sustain serious injuries.
The number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities across the country is slowly rising. Many factors can contribute to this increase, such as an increase in the number of pedestrians on the road. An increase in distracted driving, as well as distracted walking, may also contribute to the surge in pedestrian accidents. In fact, California has a “Texting While Driving” ban and the use of any cell phone is only allowed as long as it is hands-free.
Who is liable in a pedestrian accident?
The driver of the vehicle is often at fault in cases involving pedestrian vs. car accidents. Vehicle operators and pedestrians must exercise reasonable care when on the road. For drivers, this includes staying alert and watching for pedestrians crossing the street, especially at crosswalks. Drivers owe a “duty of care” to children, who are physically smaller and are not expected to know the rules of the road. For pedestrians, the duty of care includes looking both ways before crossing and using designated crosswalks at the correct time.
In general, if you are a pedestrian struck by a car, the driver’s car insurance or your own should cover the cost of your medical bills and other expenses. Even though you were not driving at the time of the accident, your auto insurance policy may still apply to your damages. However, this depends on the type of policy you have and who was at fault for the failure. You can choose to buy no-fault car insurance or a normal fault-based policy. The rules for each of these types of policies are confusing, so it’s always best to consult a pedestrian accident attorney before filing any type of auto insurance claim.
In many cases, the driver is at fault in a pedestrian-related accident. However, this is not always the case. An inattentive pedestrian could be just as at fault as an inattentive driver during an accident. And as such, you should always follow safety precautions when walking.
How does compensation work in California for pedestrian accident cases?
From the outset, an injured pedestrian can turn to the insurance of the at-fault driver or drivers involved in the accident to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and other reasonable costs. If the insurance policy has supplemental coverage, that may also be available for the injured pedestrian.
The injured pedestrian can also use “no fault” laws to access their own auto insurance policy or the policy of a family member who was part of their household at the time of the accident.
If the pedestrian does not have access to the driver’s insurance information, for example, in a hit-and-run plan, and if the pedestrian cannot access their own policy, the pedestrian can file a claim.
If the accident was caused by public or private infrastructure problems, such as potholes that should not have existed, the injured party can seek damages from the responsible government agency or property owner.
Filing compensation claims after a serious pedestrian accident can be extremely complicated, and having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference.
Dealing with insurance companies on the matter:
Pedestrians hit by cars often have the same question; Do I have to agree with the insurance company or is there a smarter option? While this may seem like a simple question, the ramifications are tremendous. Unfortunately, insurance companies have built a strong business case by making their offers seem much more lucrative than they are. Choosing an agreement with an insurance company can mean a decision to go into debt.
Insurance companies do not like to settle pedestrians involved in accidents and may reject them. They use any possible excuse to infer that the pedestrian was at fault. If the pedestrian was drinking, for example, the insurance company will say that he or she was drunk and caused the accident.
When they do decide to offer a settlement, it can be condescendingly offered with phrases like “we just want to do the right thing” and “this generous offer” to make it sound like the victim is getting more than they really deserve.
Most of the time, the answer is to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent her legal rights and find out who is responsible for her injuries. A personal injury attorney has the experience to recognize the many and varied tricks insurance agents use to give accident victims lower settlements. Insurance agents can confuse issues related to a pedestrian accident to the point where the victim will settle for considerably less than they should have.
An attorney will review any settlement agreement the insurance agency draws up and make sure it covers the costs of all medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional distress, and rehabilitation costs. Some victims may also be required to receive reimbursement for loss of quality of life depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Getting hit by a car is a big problem. Insurance companies may not feel the same way, but their job is to save money, not help victims. Pedestrians struck by a vehicle can sustain serious injuries and even paralysis and death. These types of extensive injuries cost money to recover from, and even minor injuries can be extremely expensive.
Settling what the insurance agency offers is rarely enough to cover the full cost of being hit by a car.
“I was hit by a vehicle. What should I do?”
There are few things in life that can be more traumatic than being involved in a car accident as a pedestrian. The struck pedestrian will not only suffer the obvious physical injuries, but emotional and psychological problems may also arise. In many cases, time off work resulting in financial hardship can also be experienced if the injuries are severe enough. Being struck by a vehicle also inherently interferes with your ability to carry out your normal daily self-care tasks, such as sleeping, eating, dressing, bathing, or caring for your home or family.
Many pedestrians involved in vehicle-related accidents are knocked unconscious when struck, while others may simply be dazed from the impact. However, if you remain conscious after being hit by a car, you are most likely in physical or mental shock. Regardless of the situation, as soon as you can think clearly, there is a list of steps you should take after the accident to ensure your legal rights.
The list below includes some easy steps to take once you realize you’ve been hit by a car. You should take these steps right away to protect yourself, your legal rights, and your future.
Seek medical assistance immediately:
If you have been struck by a vehicle and are unconscious, this responsibility rests with the driver or witnesses, if available. However, if you are conscious after being hit, the responsibility is yours. The physical and emotional impact that you will likely suffer after the accident can cloud your judgment and your ability to recognize pain and injury.
You should call 911 for immediate assistance and then receive a full medical evaluation, even if you think you are fine!
Document your injuries:
When communicating with medical services, take a personal inventory.
What areas of your body are in pain?
Are there visual injuries?
Are your clothes torn? If so, torn clothing may indicate an area of the body that is injured, but may not be in pain at the moment.
Feel your face, head and limbs. Is there blood? You may be bleeding, but your body may not be able to “process” the accompanying pain due to the shock.
Take note of all injuries and pains. Report them to medical personnel (paramedics) as soon as they arrive.
Call the police:
It is advisable to take notes that identify the events that led up to the accident. However, the chances that you will be able to recall information physically or emotionally are very low. And even if you can create a chain of events, you may not have the means to write them at the moment.
While your attorney or insurance company may require a police report documenting the accident, this is also the perfect time to explain exactly what happened before you were hit. Memories can fade due to injury or simply forgetting specific details as time goes by. It is extremely important to document every step that led to your being hit as soon as possible, with a police officer if possible.
Do not discuss fault at the scene or with the other driver’s insurance company!
Regardless of the facts that show that the events that led to your being struck by a vehicle were the fault of the driver or your own fault, you may not be fully aware of the legal aspects when it comes to pedestrian accidents. Anything you say at the scene or to the driver’s insurance company can, and most likely will, be used against you in the event of legal proceedings after the accident. You should only discuss your version of the accident with medical personnel, your attorney, and your insurance company. The latter are just entities looking out for your best legal interest.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that you shouldn’t talk long and hard with the driver’s insurance company, as they don’t have your best interests in mind. Remember not to sign any document they may send you, or accept any settlement offered without first discussing it with your attorney. Just ask for the company’s name, address, phone number, and claim number. And only provide the contact information for yourself, your attorney, and your insurance company to the driver’s insurance company.
Contact your insurance company:
If you currently have auto insurance, contact your company immediately after the accident. Even if you were a pedestrian in the accident, most auto insurance policies cover these types of accidents. You will need to do this to ensure that you will be able to pursue medical or disability claims after the accident.
And remember… Seek professional legal assistance!
A pedestrian struck by a vehicle will likely have more serious injuries than the occupants of the car. These injuries can lead to physical, emotional, and financial difficulties that will have a serious impact on your life. The driver’s insurance company will most likely try to blame the pedestrian and deny any claim they file. If they are offered a deal, they will most likely undervalue it and not take into account any difficulties they may encounter in the future. By acquiring a qualified personal injury lawyer, they will ensure that your legal rights are protected.