Attorneys for Pedestrian Accident Victims
When parents accompany their children to the bus stop or fitness-minded individuals jog to stay in shape, the result can be significant environmental and fitness benefits. But despite the advantages derived from walking, jogging or running, anyone who travels by foot in any city knows that pedestrian safety is a serious issue. The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) reported that just the first six months of 2016 saw 2,660 pedestrian deaths. Based on this data and historical trends, the organization projected an 11 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities over the prior year. This uptick in pedestrian fatalities is even more concerning because traffic-related deaths had consistently fallen in prior years.
Since pedestrians have no protection from injury when they are struck by a vehicle, the notion of a “minor” pedestrian accident is a fallacy. Even a small compact car weighs 3,000 pounds, so pedestrians tend to suffer catastrophic injuries even in crashes at low rates of speed. When a motor vehicle slams into the human body, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, spinal cord injuries (SCIs), amputation of limbs, impairment of vital organs or wrongful death are far too common. Pedestrians hit by cars tend to experience permanent debilitating injuries and disfigurement even if they survive their injuries. But with the help of an experienced pedestrian injury attorney at Parker Waichman LLP, you can get compensation that makes it easier to heal and move forward after your accident.
Local Pedestrian Accidents
- New York City Pedestrian Accident Attorney
- Long Island Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
- NJ Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
- Florida Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
Navigating Around Insurance Company Traps for the Unwary
Some of the tactics the insurance company might use to challenge your legal claim include:
- Shifting Blame: Insurers routinely try to blame pedestrians for causing their own injuries by failing to exercise reasonable care to avoid injury. The defense of comparative negligence frequently will be based on the claim that the pedestrian darted into the road so close to the driver that they had no time to stop the vehicle. If this claim is successful, the pedestrian’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
- Stall, Stall, Stall: Insurance companies will purposefully delay settlements in order to keep the funds invested so they may earn a financial return and increase their profits. They do this while being completely aware of the hardships that an injured pedestrian faces as their medical costs mount and their ability to earn income is reduced. They realize that the injured pedestrian will feel an increasing amount of pressure to settle for less than the full value of their claim if it means they can receive compensation sooner.
- Disputing the Cause of the Injury: There are pedestrian accident cases where the insurance company has minimal opportunity to dispute liability. For example, the driver might proceed into an intersection crosswalk against a red light. The insurance company might use multiple approaches to accomplish this goal. Based on past medical records or accidents, the insurer might claim the medical condition is entirely the result of a past injury. If you delay obtaining medical attention, the carrier might even try to blame your injuries on an event that occurred after the pedestrian accident.
- Requesting a Recorded Statement: An investigator for the insurance carrier usually will contact you seeking a recorded statement. Although the insurer’s representative might justify this statement based on the need to evaluate your claim, the actual objective is to find a defense to liability or to uncover facts that support a reduction in your claim value.
- Seeking a Premature Settlement: When liability is relatively clear, the insurance company might offer a relatively quick settlement offer. This lowball offer might be intended to either resolve the case before you complete your medical treatment or retain legal representation. If you settle the case before your course of treatment is complete, you will be asked to sign a general release that waives your right to injuries or claims you do not even know exist. When you are without legal advice, the insurance company will try to exploit your lack of experience in determining the value of your claim.
- Contesting the Severity of Injuries: Insurance companies love the phrase “low impact collision.” Representatives of the insurer often try to persuade unrepresented parties to accept a lowball settlement offer. This contention by insurers is particularly specious because pedestrians have no protection when struck by a vehicle, so serious injury frequently occurs even when a vehicle is traveling at slow rates of speed.
- Asking for Execution of Documents: Insurance carriers might ask you to execute documents that the insurer claims will be used to facilitate processing of your claim. One such document is a consent to release of information. While some income information or medical history might be relevant, this type of release is overly broad and might result in disclosure of sensitive but irrelevant information. Ultimately, the purpose of this request is to obtain information that can be used against you.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
The lion’s share of personal injury pedestrian accidents are caused by the carelessness or lack of attention of motorists. Sometimes, however, these accidents can be the result of negligence by a third party.
In our decades of experience representing pedestrians, the lawyers at our firm have seen that many factors can cause these potentially fatal accidents, such as:
- Drowsy drivers
- Vehicles turning left
- Defective vehicles (e.g., nearly silent electric cars)
- Failure to exercise caution in pedestrian areas
- Distracted driving
- Ignoring stop signs and traffic signals
- Unsafe roadways and intersections
Lax Pedestrian Safety Efforts Leave Vulnerable Populations Exposed to Harm
The pedestrian safety organization Smart Growth America provides an annual publication entitled “Dangerous by Design,” which focuses on a range of pedestrian issues. According to this publication, motor vehicles claim the lives of an average of 13 pedestrians per day. While you might assume that cars rarely run over people who are on foot, the truth is that pedestrian accidents cause the deaths of 7.2 times more people than natural disasters.
Pedestrian accident rates are higher among vulnerable populations. Seniors age 65 and older face a 50 percent higher risk of being hit by a car when walking than younger adults. Both minorities and the elderly tend to be overrepresented in pedestrian fatality statistics. Although people of color account for around 40 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 46.1 percent of pedestrian fatalities. In some geographic regions, the disparity is even more startling. Native Americans account for only five percent of the North Dakota population, for example, but they account for 38 percent of pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian fatality rates also are higher in low-income areas.
While this data is impacted to some degree by the higher number of pedestrians among these populations, this factor does not come close to accounting for the entire disparity. Inadequate pedestrian infrastructure, which might include a lack of crosswalks, a lack of pedestrian traffic signals, poorly located bus stops, and other factors, also can contribute to pedestrian tragedies. Lack of investment in pedestrian safety features by public entities or unsafe designs can place those on foot in peril that would be easily preventable. Poor urban areas often are located near arterial roads, bus stopping points, and other locations of pedestrian activity. These types of traffic-related deaths occur without reasonable care by all parties involved in the street design process, such as local elected officials, federal policymakers, and transportation engineers. A focus on facilitating high speeds for vehicles while ignoring pedestrian safety often leads to dangerous areas for those walking, jogging, and running.
Who Is Responsible for Pedestrian Injuries?
Although negligent drivers are usually the primary cause of most pedestrian accidents, third parties also cause these incidents. Our pedestrian accident law firm carefully investigates the facts and circumstances of our clients’ cases to identify all potential defendants and relevant insurance policies.
Some potential third parties who might be financially responsible for pedestrian injuries include:
- Public entities for roadway defects
- Car and component manufacturers for defective vehicles (e.g., brakes that fail to engage)
- Passengers for distracting a driver
- Vehicle owners for negligently entrusting their car to a driver they know or should know is incompetent
Once we have recognized a potential defendant, we conduct an investigation and initiate the discovery process to confirm all potential sources of insurance coverage to pay a judgment or settlement. If the responsible party does not have insurance, we might conduct an asset search to determine if the party has another means to satisfy a judgment.
Understanding Your Legal Rights as a Pedestrian
While the rights and obligations of pedestrians can vary a bit by state, here are some common provisions of pedestrian accident law:
- Pedestrian Right-of-Way in Crosswalks: Motor vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks unless the intersection has a traffic control signal or a pedestrian overpass or tunnel exists. However, pedestrians are prohibited from suddenly darting into traffic from a place of safety like a curb if it will not allow an approaching motorist sufficient time to stop. A vehicle approaching a crosswalk may not pass a vehicle that has stopped to let a pedestrian cross the street at an intersection.
- Pedestrian Right-of-Way on Sidewalks: Vehicles entering or emerging at a building, driveway, private road or alleyway must yield to pedestrians.
- Pedestrians Crossing at Places Other Than Intersections: When crossing mid-block or at other non-intersections, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to drivers.
- Pedestrian Position in Crosswalks: Pedestrians must use the right half of the crosswalk when practical.
- Pedestrians Walking in the Roadway: If a roadway is equipped with a sidewalk, pedestrians may not lawfully walk on the adjacent road.
- Pedestrians Walking on a Roadway Without Sidewalks: When pedestrians walk on a highway or other roadway without sidewalks, pedestrians must walk on the shoulder or left side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic as far to the left as is practical, especially if a vehicle approaches.
Nature of Pedestrian Injuries When Struck by Vehicles
While the risk of pedestrians suffering a catastrophic injury is relatively high, the probability of debilitating injury increases significantly with the speed of the vehicle at impact. The probability that a pedestrian will experience a serious injury or death is directly correlated to the speed of the vehicle:
Risk of Serious Injury
|16 mph||10 percent|
|23 mph||25 percent|
|31 mph||50 percent|
|39 mph||75 percent|
|46 mph||90 percent|
Risk of Fatality
|23 mph||10 percent|
|32 mph||25 percent|
|42 mph||50 percent|
|50 mph||75 percent|
|58 mph||90 percent|
Although this data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety demonstrates a correlation between the rate of speed and the risk of serious injury or wrongful death, the charts reveal that even low-speed collisions pose significant threats to pedestrians.
Age also constitutes an important risk factor in this calculation. The probability of serious injury or death for a 70-year-old pedestrian at 25 mph is substantially higher than the risk to a 30-year-old pedestrian at 35 mph.
Some of the serious injuries experienced by pedestrians run down by motor vehicles include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Impairment of vital organs
- Traumatic head injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Amputation of limbs
- Permanent disfigurement
- Wrongful death
Forms of Compensation in a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit
Because of the debilitating injuries that frequently occur when cars slam into pedestrians, victims benefit from the fullest financial recovery, which can facilitate the best medical care, replacement of lost earnings, and the best post-accident quality of life. Although no two pedestrian accident cases are identical, damages in a civil lawsuit will usually include both pecuniary damages (economic losses) and non-pecuniary damages (such as pain and suffering).
Some of the types of compensation you might be entitled to receive include:
Pecuniary (Economic) Damages
- Lost wages (past, present, and future)
- Medical, hospitalization, and rehabilitation expenses
- Burial costs (in cases of wrongful death)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Punitive damages (in egregious cases)
Why an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Make a Difference
Injured pedestrians can retain any attorney to represent their interests, but lawyers differ significantly in terms of their experience and skills. Our pedestrian injury lawyers have handled thousands of personal injury cases, including many involving injured pedestrians. This experience with the specific issues that arise in pedestrian accident cases and the defenses often used by insurers to mitigate their liability can provide a significant advantage. Benefits of working with a proven pedestrian accident attorney include:
- Anticipating Common Defenses: Insurance companies will tailor their defenses to the specific facts of the case, but certain defense strategies are frequently employed in pedestrian injury lawsuits. For example, the insurance company might attempt to shift blame to the pedestrian based on the theory of comparative negligence, claiming that the pedestrian failed to exercise ordinary care for their own safety by engaging in unreasonably unsafe conduct like jaywalking. The insurance company could even argue that its insured could not have avoided the accident because the plaintiff darted into traffic too close to the approaching vehicle.
- Proving the Full Extent of Injury: Since pedestrians often have the right-of-way, insurance companies frequently focus on mitigating the amount they must pay out in a settlement or judgment. Insurance carriers might claim that pre-existing injuries or post-accident events were responsible for the injury, especially when there is a time lapse between the pedestrian accident and medical attention. The insurer will closely examine medical records of the plaintiff to identify other possible causes for the medical condition suffered by the pedestrian. The best way to neutralize this tactic is to seek prompt medical attention and to participate in the full course of diagnostic scans, rehabilitation, and treatment.
- Balancing the Scales of Justice: Insurance companies have enormous advantages that include teams of investigators, adjusters, attorneys, and experts. Large national insurers also have deep pockets to fund litigation. When you have our large national law firm in your corner, you balance the scales of justice by putting centuries of collective experience, extensive litigation resources, attorneys recognized as industry leaders, and a network of experts behind you.
- Avoiding Traps for the Unwary: The civil litigation process is a minefield of procedural, evidentiary, and substantive standards that can blow up a legitimate claim for damages. Experienced pedestrian accident lawyers can help you avoid critical mistakes like statements that compromise your position or failing to comply with critical deadlines like the statute of limitations.
- Determining the Value of Your Claim: The careless driver’s insurer might offer a quick settlement before you have completed the course of treatment for your injuries or obtained legal advice. Insurance carriers know that regular people do not have sufficient experience with prior settlements and verdicts or the factors relevant to damage awards. Our attorneys can draw on knowledge of prior cases, awareness of factors that determine damages, and experts to accurately determine the value of a claim so you don’t accept less than you deserve.
What Should You Do if You Get Hit by a Car While Walking?
If you are the victim of a speeding, distracted, alcohol-impaired or otherwise careless driver while walking, jogging or running, certain actions in the immediate aftermath of the accident can improve the prospects for your claim. If you are a pedestrian hit by a car, what to do includes these steps:
- Seek prompt medical attention.
- Have someone gather evidence at the scene by taking pictures of your injuries, the vehicle, and the surrounding area.
- Summon law enforcement to the scene so that an accident report can be prepared.
- Avoid speaking to the negligent driver or the motorist’s insurance carrier.
- Obtain legal advice and representation from an experienced pedestrian injury lawyer.
- Attend medical and physical therapy appointments and complete your course of treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pedestrian Accidents
What Is a Pedestrian Accident?
A pedestrian accident injury occurs when a vehicle such as a car, truck or motorcycle hits a person who is not using a vehicle, such as someone walking in a crosswalk or someone out for a morning jog.
What Are the Main Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, frequent causes of pedestrian accidents are limited visibility, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, running into the road, a failure to yield the right-of-way, crossing a road improperly, and standing, lying, playing or working in a street.
Where Do Most Pedestrian Fatalities Occur?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the majority of fatalities in pedestrian accidents take place in heavily populated urban areas.
Who Is at Fault When a Car Hits a Pedestrian?
More often than not, the driver would be considered at fault in a situation like this. However, this is not always the case. There are several factors that can influence who was at fault for the accident, which is why working with an attorney experienced in handling pedestrian accidents is crucial.
Where Are Pedestrians Most Likely to Be Hit by a Car?
Pedestrians are most vulnerable to being hit by a car at an intersection where a car is making a left turn. This is because when they are making a left, a driver is far more attentive to oncoming traffic than they would be if they were turning right. This splits their attention and makes them more likely to not see a pedestrian crossing the street.
What Pedestrians Are Most at Risk in Pedestrian Accidents?
Children and the elderly are at the highest risk of suffering severe injuries or even death in a pedestrian accident.
What Happens if You Get Hit in a Crosswalk?
If you are struck by a car while using a crosswalk, it’s likely that the driver was at fault for your injuries, as crosswalks are supposed to be safe crossing spots for pedestrians. You should speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer about the incident straightaway.
What Happens to a Driver Who Hits a Pedestrian?
A driver who hits a pedestrian with their vehicle will likely be faced with a personal injury lawsuit from the person they hit. If they are found to be at fault, the driver will be required to compensate the victim for any damages suffered from the accident, including medical expenses and lost wages.
Are Pedestrians Ever at Fault in an Accident?
Contrary to popular belief, even though pedestrians have the right-of-way, they can still be at fault when someone hits them with a vehicle. For example, a pedestrian who is hit while walking on a road that prohibits foot traffic would likely be found at fault for the accident.
What Is a Negligent Pedestrian?
When a pedestrian behaves unpredictably or recklessly in or near a roadway, they are considered to be negligent. If negligence on the pedestrian’s part occurs, it is likely that the pedestrian will be deemed at least partially at fault for the accident.
What Happens if You Hit a Pedestrian Who Is Jaywalking?
In a situation such as this, either party may be found at fault for the accident. All factors would have to be taken into consideration in order to determine who is more at fault for the accident: the driver or the jaywalker.
What Happens if a Pedestrian Caused an Accident?
If a pedestrian caused an accident and is deemed at fault, they will likely be held responsible for any damages the driver incurred. This could include lost wages, medical expenses, damage to the vehicle, and pain and suffering.
How Can Pedestrians Avoid Accidents?
Following some simple safety tips can go a long way toward avoiding pedestrian accident consequences. Always using the sidewalk, wearing reflective clothing at night, using the crosswalk when crossing the street, and staying off of your phone while crossing the street are all good strategies to help you avoid pedestrian accidents.
What Is the Typical Settlement for a Hit Pedestrian?
When a pedestrian is hit by a car, compensation is owed, but there’s no one typical amount for every pedestrian accident claim. Because the facts and circumstances are unique whenever a pedestrian is hit by a car, the settlement amounts are also unique. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can give you a better idea of how much your case might pay out by looking at how much similar pedestrian accident claims have been worth.
Why Choose Parker Waichman When You Need a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
Many law firms talk about their experience and reputation, but the attorneys at Parker Waichman have 350 years of collective legal experience. Since our personal injury law firm was founded in 1993, we have recovered more than $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Although we are a large law firm, we are committed to ensuring that each of our clients receive the attention to their case and responsiveness to questions that they would expect if they were our only clients.
As you might imagine, we have received many awards and accolades over the years, including the following recent examples:
- Included by U.S. News & World Report on their list of “Best Law Firms”
- Recipient of a 9.8 rating (out of 10) from AVVO
- Received the coveted “5 Dragons” rating from Lawdragon based on extensive peer review
- Awarded the highest peer-review rating by Martindale-Hubbell
The knowledgeable attorneys at our pedestrian accident law firm represent bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and runners throughout the U.S. We invite you to speak with us for more information and a free initial consultation, with absolutely no obligation: Contact us at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529), fill out our case inquiry form or visit us in person today.
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