When you head out on a walk – whether you are out to get some exercise or simply to get where you need to be – you are about as physically vulnerable to serious traffic accidents and attendant injuries as you can be. In fact, you have absolutely nothing to protect you from the immense impact of a traffic accident. When you are on foot, always make getting where you are going safely your top priority.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you have questions about how best to proceed, and the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can help.
What is the best way to stay safe out there?
Nearly all of us are pedestrians at some point in our day – even if this just means running from your parking spot to the local pharmacy. At some point in your day, you are in pedestrian mode, and taking your safety seriously is paramount. Adhering to all the following safety rules of the road can help you stay safe out there:
Use pedestrian walkways and overpasses whenever they are available.
Always cross at a crosswalk with pedestrian signals when possible.
Cross the street in a group whenever possible (motorists are more likely to see you and to react safely).
Wear a brightly colored piece of outer clothing when you walk in the day, and if you must walk at night, wear a piece of reflective outer clothing (and carry a flashlight).
Wear comfortable, well-fitting, and sensible walking shoes.
Follow all the pedestrian rules of the road, including all posted signs, lights, and signals.
Even if it is your turn to cross, do not proceed until it is safe to do so. If you get the sense that an oncoming driver is not going to stop (or is not slowing down appropriately), put your own safety first and wait to make sure before proceeding.
Do not be a distracted pedestrian. Put your phone and headphones away.
If there is no sidewalk and you must walk on the road, always face traffic and stay as far to the outside edge of the shoulder as possible.
Are Pedestrian accidents always the driver’s fault?
Motorists owe pedestrians a serious duty of care – due to the danger they pose to them in pedestrian accidents. While motorists are generally responsible for pedestrian accidents, this is not always the case. When someone on foot darts out between cars – seemingly out of nowhere – oncoming motorists may have no way to avoid an accident. Pedestrians are always responsible for following the rules of the road.
RELATED READINGS: Pedestrian or Motorist: Who Has the Right of Way?
How do pedestrian accidents usually happen?
Pedestrian accidents are often the result of drivers who do not take the duty of care they owe pedestrians seriously enough, who do not carefully adhere to the rules of the road, or who engage in other forms of driver negligence.
What are the most common forms of driver negligence involved in pedestrian accidents?
Driver negligence comes in far too many dangerous forms that put pedestrians at serious risk, and that can include all of the following:
Distraction – A driver who is distracted by anything that takes his or her focus off the road puts pedestrians in immense danger. Texting is the deadliest distraction of a long list of dangerous distractions, and smartphone usage is commonly cited in pedestrian accident statistics.
Impairment – Impaired drivers suffer cognitive, physical, and even sensory deficits that make them very dangerous drivers and that put pedestrians at extreme risk. When you factor in that impairment also decreases impulse control, it makes for a very dangerous situation.
Exhaustion – When motorists are drowsy, they lose physical coordination, experience cognitive impairments, and have difficulty concentrating. This can prove to be a deadly combination behind the wheel.
Excess Speed – When motorists drive too fast in relation to the condition of the road or exceed the speed limit, they allow themselves less time and less distance on the road to react safely to pedestrians.
How great is the risk that pedestrians face?
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) shares the following grim pedestrian fatality statistics:
In 2019, pedestrian accident fatalities increased 51 percent over 2009.
In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic accidents.
Pedestrian deaths account for a full 17 percent of all traffic deaths.
Twenty-one percent of all pedestrian fatalities in 2019 were hit-and-run accidents.
The vast majority of pedestrian fatalities happen in urban settings.
In 2019, October through December saw the greatest numbers of pedestrian deaths.
RELATED READINGS: Fatal Pedestrian Accidents are on the Rise
What are the most important steps I can take to protect my pedestrian accident claim?
The three most important steps you can take to help protect your health and your pedestrian accident claim include the following:
Seek Medical Care – Seek the medical care and attention you need as soon after the pedestrian accident as possible and follow your doctor’s advice and instructions carefully. This is the right thing to do for your physical recovery and the best way to demonstrate to the insurance company that your injuries are serious and that they should take them seriously.
Consult with an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney – One of the best ways to ensure that you can afford the care you need to reach your fullest recovery is by obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled, and the surest way to accomplish this is with a dedicated pedestrian accident attorney in your corner.
Remain Quiet on the Topic – The insurance company is looking for a way to discredit your claim, and if that means twisting your comments on the accident to its own ends, it will go that route. The less you say about the accident (including on social media), the better. In fact, it is best to leave the talking to your pedestrian accident attorney.
What damages can I seek?
After being injured by a motorist’s negligence in a pedestrian accident, you can seek damages (or losses) in the following important categories:
Medical Expenses – It is important to note that the serious injuries that are common to pedestrian accidents are often ongoing and can lead to serious secondary concerns that require further extensive medical attention. Ensuring that your medical costs (in their entirety) are well represented in your pedestrian accident claim is paramount.
Lost Earnings – While you recover from your injuries (and watch your medical bills continue to rise), you will almost certainly lose hours on the job, which typically translates to lost income. If your injuries interfere with your ability to do your job and continue advancing your career, you could also experience a significant decrease in lost earning potential.
Pain and Suffering – The physical pain associated with pedestrian accidents is often immense, and the emotional pain and suffering can be similarly overwhelming. The consequences of this pain and suffering can be exceptionally difficult to move past and can make your recovery that much more daunting.
How much is my pedestrian accident worth?
The value of your claim will reflect your total covered damages. Ensuring that these damages are verified and well represented in your claim is key. You are seeking just compensation that covers your losses in their entirety and that allows you to follow the long and arduous path toward your most complete physical and emotional recovery.
Do I need a pedestrian accident attorney?
While you can file your pedestrian claim on your own, it doesn’t put you in a good position for obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled and that you need to reach your fullest recovery. Pedestrian accident claims are not only complicated but are also legally exacting, which makes having an experienced pedestrian accident attorney in your corner in your best interests.
What role will my pedestrian accident attorney play?
Your accomplished pedestrian accident attorney will take on many critical tasks as your case proceeds, including:
Communicating with the insurance company on your behalf and skillfully negotiating with the insurance company for your claim’s best possible resolution
Building your strongest claim (that carefully outlines the full extent of your damages)
Verifying your damages in their entirety
Proving the motorist’s fault in the matter
Protecting your legal rights throughout
All told, you are far better off working closely with a dedicated pedestrian accident attorney.
What if I cannot afford a pedestrian accident attorney?
The good news is that you do not have to worry about paying your pedestrian accident attorney as your case proceeds. The vast majority of reputable pedestrian accident attorneys work on contingency, and this means their pay is contingent upon (or based upon) your settlement or court award. If you obtain either, your pedestrian accident attorney will receive a prearranged percentage of the amount at the time of resolution.
Why doesn’t the insurance company simply compensate me fairly?
The insurance company handling your claim is in the business of making money, which means that its goal is to negotiate as low a settlement offer with you as possible. Negotiating fair terms often takes a considerable amount of time and a considerable amount of legal know-how to accomplish.
The insurance company rejected my claim. Now what?
As mentioned, the insurance company is highly invested in keeping your claim as low as possible, and by rejecting it out of hand, the company is hoping that you will simply give up. While the insurance company would certainly like you to believe that it has the final say in the matter, that is not how it works. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith, you can turn to the law for legal remedy (by filing a lawsuit against the insurance company). Your dedicated pedestrian accident attorney will help you find the best path forward for you.
Should I accept the insurance company’s early settlement offer?
First, it is a bad idea to accept a settlement offer before discussing the matter with a skilled pedestrian accident attorney who is well acquainted with the specifics of your claim. This being said, an early settlement offer is likely a sign that the insurance company is hoping you are desperate enough to accept a lowball offer – before you even recognize the full extent of your injuries and attendant damages.
What else should I be on the lookout for when it comes to the insurance company?
The insurance company recognizes that you are at your most vulnerable and is not above taking advantage of this fact. As such, the insurance company may pull any one of the following tricks out of its bag:
Making the claims process so lengthy and convoluted that you are ready to give up in exasperation
Calling the extent of your damages into question
Casting doubt on their policyholder’s fault in the matter
While you tend to the important matter of regaining your health and well-being, leave the insurance company to your focused pedestrian accident attorney.
What kinds of injuries are most common in pedestrian accidents?
Because you are at your most physically vulnerable when you are on foot, the injuries that are most commonly associated with pedestrian accidents tend to be very serious, including:
Broken Bones – Even a simple break is an exceptionally painful injury that is also slow to heal. If the break is more complicated, it can lead to serious physical complications that may include chronic pain, a severe decrease in range of motion, and even permanent disability.
Traumatic Brain Injuries – Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), because they affect the brain, areas seriously dangerous as they are unpredictable. A serious TBI can be life-altering, and many victims liken the effects to a shift in the sense of self that is especially difficult to bear.
Spinal Cord Injuries – Spinal cord injuries tend to be highly painful affairs that seriously limit the range of motion, and that can lead to chronic pain. If the spinal cord is severely damaged or severed, the effect is permanent paralysis and a lifetime of medical needs.
Burns and Cuts – The impact of a pedestrian accident is likely to send you flying (only to be bruised, cut, scraped, and burned in the process). These injuries are especially susceptible to serious infections that can lead to serious secondary health concerns. Further, if the cut or burn is on or around the face, it can leave you permanently disfigured.
Seek the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Killeen Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a pedestrian accident attorney who dedicates his practice to zealously advocating for the compensation to which clients like you are entitled. We are here to help, so please do not wait to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.