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When most people think about car accidents, they imagine two cars colliding into each other. However, an often-overlooked percentage of car accidents actually involve a car colliding with a pedestrian. For most of us, our priority when driving on the roads can be avoiding other cars. However, this can unfortunately leave pedestrians in an unsafe position. Further, as pedestrians, we often don’t consider the fact that we are in a dangerous position when out for a walk on the sidewalk or walking in the intersection of what seems to be a quiet intersection.
As a pedestrian, being involved in a pedestrian accident can be extremely frightening, and the consequences can be severe. Pedestrians do not have the protection that a car provides, which means that physical injuries can often be much worse than an accident involving two vehicles. Unfortunately, the possibility of being in such an accident has grown in recent years—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in the most recent available data that there was more than a 3% increase in the number of pedestrians who were killed in traffic crashes in 2018 for a total of 6,283 deaths, which was the most since 1990.
WHAT IS A PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT?
A pedestrian accident is any type of accident that involves a pedestrian, i.e., a person walking along a road and a vehicle. This vehicle does not necessarily need to be a car, it could be a bike or even an electric scooter. Though pedestrian accidents might occur more frequently in a bustling city like Dallas or Austin, they can also occur in much smaller areas and are unfortunately all too common across the US. The US Department of Transportation has attempted to fight back against these accidents with programs such as Everyone is a Pedestrian, but thousands are still killed each year.
Though not all pedestrian accidents result in death, the consequences can still be quite severe. Cars and trucks have built-in safety features like seat belts and airbags that deploy upon impact. Pedestrians have none of these protections. As a result, a pedestrian can incur severe injuries if a car going as slowly as 10 mph strikes them, while the same impact between cars might only cause a minor fender-bender.
COMMON CAUSES OF PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS
Though we have discussed the different consequences that can result from pedestrian accidents as compared to a car crash, they actually share many of the same root causes. A few of the more common causes include:
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Driving under the influence
- Distracted Driving
- Failure to yield to pedestrians
- Weather conditions
COMMON PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT CLAIMS
Within the broader category of pedestrian accident claims, there a few common claims that can arise. These include:
The law may differ from state to state and depending on the situation, but generally speaking, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are legally in a marked crosswalk. However, due to distracted or aggressive driving, drivers can sometimes fail to take adequate precautions and strike pedestrians. Pedestrians have the inherent expectation that drivers will stop for them when they are on the road, but the unfortunate reality is that drivers will sometimes ignore the rules and cause serious injuries.
Parking Lot Accidents
Parking lots can put pedestrians in dangerous situations because there are often no defined walkways, forcing pedestrians to share the same area as cars. In addition, cars pulling into or backing out of a spot might have a limited range of vision because of the other cars in the lot. Though accidents in parking lots often occur at lower speeds, this does not mean they won’t cause a serious injury.
Accidents occurring on the sidewalk are different from the other two categories in that they occur where the typical pedestrian has no expectation of being in danger. Drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol, while talking on a cellphone, or simply not paying attention can leave the roadway and strike pedestrians on nearby sidewalks. These accidents are less common than accidents occurring on a sidewalk, but the resulting injuries can be devastating.
HOW TO FILE A CLAIM
1. Call the Police
It is extremely important that you contact the police as soon as possible—even if the accident seems relatively minor to you at the time. When the police arrive, file an official report, which may become very important later in the process of filing your claim.
2. Seek Medical Attention
After you have filed a report, it is important to quickly seek medical attention. There a couple of reasons for this. One, certain injuries might not present symptoms immediately, and addressing them as soon as possible may prevent them from worsening. In addition, a long period of time between your accident and medical attention may be used against you to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you’re claiming.
3. Speak with an Attorney
Speaking with an attorney may be a great way to make sure that you accurately understand all of your options after your accident and to make sure that you are treated fairly during the process. Filing a successful claim can become complicated, and an experienced attorney can help you work through a difficult time.
Once you have selected an attorney, they may be able to begin the investigation process, which entails gathering and analyzing all of the relevant evidence, including police reports, medical records, and eyewitness statements.
Remember, insurance companies operate as a business and would like to pay you as little money as they are legally required to. However, having an experienced pedestrian accident attorney on your side may aid in a better understanding of what your claim is worth, as well as give you a partner with the necessary experience to negotiate a fair settlement offer from the other side.
After you or your loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to seek both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are calculated with your medical bills, damage to property and past and future lost wages from being unable to work. Non-economic damages include the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your accident.
Non-economic damage calculation is not an exact science, but generally speaking, the worse an injury is, the higher this number will be. Different states have different rules on calculating these damages, so speaking with an attorney might give you a better idea of what your case could be worth.
Some states also allow for what are called punitive damages. Punitive damages aim to punish a wrongdoer in cases where they have acted extremely recklessly or maliciously.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Each state places a time limit on your ability to file a claim. The legal term for this time limit is the statute of limitations. For example, if the statute of limitations in your state is three (3) years, then you have three (3) years from the date of your accident to file a claim. Failing to abide by the statute of limitations may result in your claim being dismissed entirely by the court.
GET HELP FROM ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian accident, do not hesitate in reaching out to Zinda Law Group for help. We don’t believe that accident victims should need to worry about being able to afford representation, which is why we use a no-win, no-fee policy—you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.