Determining who's at fault in a pedestrian accident depends on the facts surrounding the particular accident. Like any other personal injury claim, the negligence law determines the accident cause and who's liable for the accident. Therefore, seeking compensation after a pedestrian accident can be confusing based on the facts associated with this type of accident.
You want to seek help from a professional personal injury attorney who has helped multiple pedestrian accident victims in Orange County, CA, and its surroundings recover their damages after sustaining injuries. Your lawyer should have enough experience to know what it takes to build a strong case for your compensation. Below you learn how to determine liability in a pedestrian accident.
Determine Who is at Fault of the Pedestrian Accident
It seems like a simple question to answer who's at fault in a pedestrian accident. Most people assume that drivers are automatically at fault for a pedestrian accident, but there are times when pedestrians are liable for an accident.
To determine who is at fault, your injury attorney must look at the actions of the car driver and the pedestrian. While looking at what the driver was doing, you should take note of things like:
- Whether the driver was legally driving where he's supposed to be driving
- Whether the driver was driving safely for the circumstance
- Whether the driver was paying attention
If the driver considered all these factors, they might have little or no fault in the accident. However, if the driver was not doing any of these things, they might be entirely or partially at fault for the accident.
To determine whether a pedestrian was at fault, your attorney must answer the following questions:
- Did you have the right of way?
- Were you breaking any law?
Actions that Makes a Driver Liable for a Pedestrian Accident
A pedestrian accident victim must prove that the at-fault motorist's actions led to injuries to recover their damages. The main question that you and your attorney should ask is whether a reasonable driver would have performed the same way under these circumstances?
If not, then you can recover compensation for the losses incurred from the accident. Below are common negligent actions that can make a driver liable for a pedestrian accident:
Disobeying Traffic Signals
One of the most common ways to prove a driver's liability is to show that they disobeyed traffic signals. A reasonable driver is expected to follow traffic signs, especially in a crosswalk.
Motorists will most likely cause a pedestrian accident while speeding. Pedestrian accident victims usually suffer significant damages when hit by a speeding vehicle.
Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Sadly, some motorists are used to operating their automobiles while under the influence. If that's the cause of your injuries, you will most likely recover all the damages incurred from the accident.
Like driving under the influence, distracted driving proves that a driver is liable for a pedestrian accident. Some of the common actions referred to as distracted driving include eating, calling, or texting.
Other negligent actions that can make a driver liable for a pedestrian accident include:
- Running a red light.
- Turning left without checking whether it's clear of pedestrians.
- Poor visibility.
As noted above, drivers are not entirely liable for a pedestrian accident. Some scenarios make a pedestrian responsible for the accident. These scenarios are as follows:
Darting into the Streets Without Regards for Traffic
When a pedestrian suddenly enters a street without taking note of the traffic, there are high chances of being hit. Even in crosswalks, pedestrians should check for oncoming vehicles and determine whether it's far enough to stop on time. some of the examples that may cause a pedestrian to dark into the street are as follows:
- Dashing into a street while after an object like a ball.
- Darting out in between cars or jaywalking without looking.
- Purposely or recklessly causing an endangerment by walking into traffic.
Ignoring No Walk Signs
A pedestrian struck by a vehicle while crossing a street with the "no walk" traffic signal may share responsibility for causing a pedestrian accident.
Crossing at Intersections or Where There Are No Crosswalks
Even though vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians, it might be difficult to see a pedestrian who's crossing in a busy and poorly lit roadway. A pedestrian should take partial or full liability for the accident by crossing at an undesignated place.
Walking on Highways or Places that Are Not Prohibited
A pedestrian shouldn't attempt to cross an interstate or a busy highway. There are high volumes of oncoming traffic traveling at speed, which would easily lead to an accident. In most cases, pedestrians who are hit at these places take full liability for their injuries.
Evidence that Can Help You Prove Liability in a Pedestrian Accident
Proving that a driver was liable for a pedestrian accident can be difficult. You need to collect and use evidence that shows that the driver was responsible for the accident. Some of the evidence that you might use are as follows:
One of the most useful things you can use as evidence for a pedestrian accident is photographs. Most people have smartphones with cameras. You don't have to harass an eyewitness for the accident photo, but you can snap the essentials yourself. You can take pictures of the injuries you incur immediately after the accident, a picture of the part that hit you on the vehicle, and the license number of the car that hit you.
These photos are suitable for corroborating your story. Therefore, you should aim to capture as many images as possible. You may never know which would be useful.
Traffic Video Footage
Modern crosswalk areas have surveillance cameras. These cameras can help you see the accident more clearly and establish that the driver was liable. Your attorney will help you access the video footage from the authorities.
It's natural for the police to arrive at a pedestrian accident scene. Their report can be crucial in proving that a motorist was liable for an accident, and they can be used in court as part of your evidence. You can also use them as witnesses for the accident.
Police reports cover information from both parties involved in an accident. Therefore, their information is easily acceptable in court since it's viewed as impartial and completely unbiased.
A witness report can also be ideal in proving the liability of a motorist in a pedestrian accident. It's recommendable to ask for witnesses' contact details if you're a victim in a pedestrian accident and don't require immediate medical attention. Their report can be crucial in proving the liability of a motorist if you don't have enough evidence that would help you in your claim. Witness reports are also viewed as impartial and are also highly acceptable in court.
Expert Witness Testimonies
Expert witnesses are crucial in reconstructing an accident and testifying to their client's defense. Your attorney can find an expert witness to help reconstruct the accident you were involved in if there is insufficient evidence to help clear things up.
Prove the Correlation between the Motorist's Negligent Action and Your Injuries
The ability to show a connection between a negligent action and your injuries narrows down to the extensive documentation of the injuries that you suffered. You must have all the necessary medical records needed to prove that you sustained injuries from the accident.
Medical records are documents that show the diagnosis and treatment of an injury. They usually include crucial information like doctor's appointments, treatment dates, and other details that would help you prove that you incurred injuries from a pedestrian accident. They have the following documents:
- The projected outcome of a treatment procedure
- A breakdown of all your treatment costs
- An assessment of your current medical condition
- Future medical treatment procedures with their expected medical costs
Please note, adjusters and the at-fault party's insurance adjuster might reach out asking for your medical information regarding your preexisting health conditions. They usually do this to find ways to deny your settlement request and their client's liability.
Therefore, it's crucial to work with a personal injury attorney to avoid falling victim to some of the tricks used by adjusters and the at-fault party's attorney.
Here are some of the common types of medical records that you can use:
- Paramedic or ambulance reports
- Hospital visits records
- Acupuncture treatment, if any
- Diagnostic testing records like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs
- Physical therapy records and notes
- Independent medical evaluator reports
- Hospital visits records
- Emergency room records
- Records for your follow-up appointments
How Medical Records Will Affect your Liability Claim
There are so many cases of fraudulent personal injury claims associated with pedestrian accidents. However, your medical records can be crucial in validating your story and making it hard for the defense to argue otherwise.
With the statements and reports made about your injuries, these records can prove that your injuries are real and are accident-related. Therefore, the at-fault party's defense will find it hard to deny their liability or make a lower settlement offer.
Prove that Your Injuries Are Not a result of an Underlying Condition
Most at-fault party's defense stems their argument from a pre-existing medical condition as a way of denying their client's liability. This situation often arises when a victim cannot prove that their injuries are associated with the pedestrian accident that they were involved in.
Fortunately, medical records can be suitable evidence that will help you prove that your injuries resulted from a pedestrian accident and didn't exist before. The right documentation to use is your physician's opinion that demonstrates that your injuries were new and resulted from a recent crash.
Medical Records Can Help You Determine Your Claim's Value
Apart from showing that you suffered particular injuries from a pedestrian accident, medical records often help track how much your injuries cost in your treatment. This includes financial costs associated with surgeries, treatment, rehabilitation, ambulatory services, and hospital visits. Your attorney should use these records to quantify your damages and justify your compensation demands.
Prove that You Suffered Damages as a result of the Accident
You cannot complete your compensation claim in a pedestrian accident without proving that you suffered damages from the accident. Damages refer to all the monetary awards that you can receive from an accident. There are different types of damages that you can suffer in a pedestrian accident. Here are various ways you can prove the damages that resulted from your pedestrian accident.
Proving that You Lost Your Wages from the Pedestrian Accident
You must provide relevant evidence when proving that you lost your wages in a pedestrian accident. Your lost wages resulting from the time you've been missing from work after being involved in a pedestrian accident.
You have to provide relevant documents to prove your lost wages. Some of the workable ways that can prove your lost wages include:
- Your W-2 forms for your last tax years
- Your paystub for your time before and after the accident to show the difference
- A Wage Verification from your employer
- Your tax returns account receivable, and checks, if you're self-employed or a business owner
Apart from the documents stated above, you should also ask for a disability slip or note from your physician. This will help you prove that you have been missing work due to the disability diagnosed by the doctor.
Proving Pain and Suffering in a Pedestrian Accident
Proving your pain and suffering is not a simple task. You will be required to present various evidence to the at-fault party insurance company and defense to maximize your chances of being compensated fully. The at-fault party insurance company will most likely discredit your pain and suffering if you don't present enough evidence to prove that you suffered this damage. Some of the evidence that you can use are as follows:
- Medical evidence like a report of your examination
- A written report from a personal injury expert
- Documentations of your mental and physical suffering from your diaries or journals
- Evidence from your family and friends showing how pain and suffering has been holding you back
- Proof of your physical injury that has been causing pain
- Your testimony of how the accident has affected you
- Prescriptions from your doctor proving that you have been experiencing nightmares since the accident
- A report from a counselor who has been treating you from depression caused a long and painful recovery from your injuries
Proving Loss of Consortium in a Pedestrian Accident
To recover compensation for a claim for loss of consortium, you must prove its existence due to the injuries you suffered from the accident. Loss of consortium is non-economic damage, and it would be difficult to determine the monetary value when victims are affected emotionally.
There is no specific method to determine the value of your consortium claim. However, your attorney can work on the following to assign a value to your claim:
- Whether your marriage was stable and full of love
- Where there was a living arrangement in your marriage
- Whether your spouse received companionship and care from you before the injury
- The life expectancy of your injured spouse
- Whether you required family counseling as a couple
- Evidence of activities that you engaged in before the injury
- Evidence of household chores that you were able to perform before the injury
You can also use a journal documenting the emotional impact of the injuries you sustained for not providing the same level of support to your family as before. For instance, you can present your child's journal that documents how the injuries you sustained limited your ability to participate in his or her school functions.
Shared Liability in a Pedestrian Accident
Not all pedestrian accidents have one party guilty for the injuries sustained by the victim. There are times when both parties can act in a not cautious or normal manner under the circumstances. Under California pure comparative law, the jury will set compensation for the injuries sustained based on the percentage contribution of the injuries. For instance, the jury may set a plaintiff pedestrian who was jaywalking 60% responsible for the accident. This means that the pedestrian will only recover 40% of the total compensation.
To put this in perspective, if you were 10% responsible and received a $100,000 financial award, the court will reduce it to $90,000 to reflect your assigned percentage of the fault.
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
It can be challenging to prove liability after suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident, especially when there are chances that your actions contributed to the accident. That's why it's recommended to seek the help of a pedestrian accident lawyer immediately if you're involved in an accident. At the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we are prepared to help you after suffering injuries from a pedestrian accident. Learn more by calling our offices at 714-876-1959 and schedule an appointment with our experienced attorneys.