Catastrophic injuries are not a rare occurrence in Orange County, and as a result, many are affected by these injuries, either directly or indirectly. Catastrophic injuries are severe, and they can permanently damage the life of a person. Even though most of us think that these injuries only arise from motor accidents, airplane accidents, subway accidents, among others, there are pedestrian accidents that can be catastrophic. These injuries are not only physically painful, but they also affect the emotional and financial status of the affected persons.
The families of the affected will have to spend most of their time and money taking care of their loved ones. A catastrophically injured person has the legal right to hold the wrongdoer responsible and get compensation. The injury may require a large amount of compensation, and that is why you might need an attorney to stand in for you. We at the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney will take you through the process of demanding compensation to help you receive compensation.
What is Considered a Catastrophic Injury from a Pedestrian Accident?
A catastrophic injury is an injury that has direct or proximate results that prevent the affected person from taking part in any gainful work. In simpler terms, a catastrophic injury is a severe injury to the body, especially to vital organs such as the brain or the spinal cord. A catastrophically injured person may spend most of their life bedridden.
Having a catastrophic injury means that you have lost a part of yourself, such as losing a limb, the ability to think properly, or even the ability to walk. A catastrophic lawsuit can be pursued to demand a settlement or compensation for the pedestrian accident.
Examples Of Catastrophic Injuries From Pedestrian Accidents?
Below are some examples of the catastrophic injuries caused by the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of an individual.
Catastrophic brain injury. This type of injury can bring about lifelong cognitive problems such as abnormal speech, emotional hurdles, and inability to move their limbs.
Spinal cord injuries. The accident can result in a person’s partial or complete paralysis of the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries can also result in respiratory and blood circulation problems, bowel issues, and many more. This is the most severe catastrophic injury in pedestrian accidents and may result in higher compensations.
Limb loss. Losing your limb can cause tremendous emotional distress.
Ruptured kidneys, spleen, liver, or sometimes bowels can be fatal and can even cause internal bleeding, which sometimes would lead to death.
As you can see, pedestrian accidents are fatal road accidents. They also result in high medical bills, and that is why no-hit pedestrians should suffer the cost alone. Pedestrians should fight to ensure they are compensated for all the suffering they were caused.
What Are The Main Causes Of Pedestrian Accidents?
People walk for many reasons. Some may be walking to reach a set destination, and some may walk or jog for health purposes, among many other reasons. While walking is good, it may attract catastrophic injuries since the pedestrians have no protection from the one hitting them.
The main cause of pedestrian accidents is pure negligence from a motorist. If a motorist does not obey all the traffic rules, then pedestrian accidents are bound to happen.
Below are some of the causes of pedestrian accidents:
Speeding, which is not only a violation of traffic laws but also a sign of reckless driving. Pedestrians hit by speeding suffer catastrophic injuries due to the force of the action.
Intoxicated driving. This is another main cause of pedestrian accidents and a sure sign of negligence and traffic laws violation. A drunk driver will likely cause more accidents than a sober driver.
Distracted driving. When a driver is either texting, drinking, eating, talking on the phone, his mind and eyes are rarely on the road. Such a driver can easily cause a pedestrian accident.
Traffic lights ignorance. Some drivers are not keen on traffic lights, and their ignorance can easily cause pedestrian accidents.
Is the Driver Always at Fault When Hitting a Pedestrian?
You may be blaming the driver only, but have you ever thought that your local government authority may also be liable? It should be noted that the driver is not always at fault when hitting a pedestrian. Sometimes the pedestrian may have caused the accidents due to ignorance of traffic laws.
The town or city might be at fault due to how the street has been laid or the traffic control devices' failure. For instance, if both the oncoming pedestrian and the oncoming traffic lights have green lights at the same time, then the pedestrian crosses without noticing this, the municipality might be charged with negligence.
Another example is when there is a poorly situated crosswalk. A crosswalk right after a curve might cause a pedestrian accident if there is no signal to the driver that there is a crosswalk after a curve.
In both of these cases, someone may hold the town or city of negligence and ignorance.
How Can Pedestrians Cause an Accident?
Sometimes the pedestrian may be partially or wholly responsible for a vehicle-pedestrian accident. Pedestrians, too, can be at fault if an accident happens. Below are some things that a pedestrian can do that may result in an accident:
Ignoring traffic lights
Walking outside of the crosswalks
Failure to walk on the sidewalk
Wearing dark clothing at night
As we mentioned earlier, pedestrians also can be the cause of an accident. If you find yourself mostly using the road as a pedestrian, you should follow some strategic ways to ensure that you are safe on the road:
Ensure that you stay on the crosswalks and the sidewalks
If you are walking at night, make sure that you either put on some bright colored clothes or a reflector
Carefully look at both traffic and pedestrian lights before crossing the road
Avoid jaywalking (crossing the street instead of using the crossroads)
If possible, strive to make eye contact with the drivers on the road. It's risky to assume that the driver will give you the way. By making eye contact, you will be able to communicate with the driver efficiently
What to Do After Having a Pedestrian Accident
You need to call 911 and report the accident. Make sure the dispatcher knows you or the person hit is a pedestrian. The second thing is to look for medical attention immediately. If paramedics arrive at the scene before you are rushed to the hospital, do not refuse medical care. Sometimes shock can make the pain and the symptoms mild. Tell them of every strange feeling that you have no matter how mild it is.
If they insist on taking you to the hospital, do not hesitate, go with them. If, for any reason, you did not go to the hospital, go to your private doctor, an emergency unit, or a care unit. Never delay or refuse treatment; it will undermine your compensation claim. Also, the insurance company might claim the injuries were not caused by accident.
You also need to ensure that you take any possible evidence on the scene. Gathering information immediately at the scene is super helpful for your insurance. Accidents scenes never last long, so if you are somehow incapacitated, tell a friend or the officers to gather the evidence for you.
You should ask the driver who hit you for their address, phone number, email, home, e.t.c. You should also ensure that you have taken the vehicle's information, including the vehicle model, year and make license plate number, and other important information.
If there were witnesses, try asking them to record what they saw and sign their written witness statement.
Legal Terms Used By Insurance Companies
Catastrophic injuries are expensive and painful, and that is why you need to be compensated for the losses. For you to qualify for compensation, you have to prove to the insurance company that the driver is at fault. Below are some of the legal terms that insurance companies use:
Proximate cause - it is the action that led to the damage that would have happened. A proximate cause is one that the law recognizes as the cause that led to the damages the plaintiff suffered. The plaintiff has to show that the catastrophic injuries are the natural and also the direct result of the proximate cause.
Damages - pedestrians' damages include hospital bills, therapy bills, pain and suffering, and many others.
Liability - it simply means responsibility. The driver who caused the accident is usually the one liable for the damages caused.
Negligence - this happens when the driver did not act responsibly, or the driver did what no responsible driver would do.
What Happens If a Pedestrian Caused the Accident?
Many people think that since pedestrians always have 'the right of way,' pedestrians can never be at fault when an accident happens. This is not true, and some pedestrians are never careful. As a matter of fact, both the driver and the pedestrian have a responsibility to be safe on the roads. If a driver or a pedestrian is not responsible and fails to exercise care, then they are considered negligent if their actions caused the accident.
In a case where the pedestrian is at fault and all the evidence points at his mistakes, he may not recover compensation. The driver may also use the pedestrian and demand compensation for his car or any injuries he might have.
Below are some incidents that could prove that the pedestrian was at fault and that his actions caused the accident:
A pedestrian leaving a place of safety like the sidewalk to walk on the roadway
Crossing busy roads with no traffic lights like the highways. A pedestrian should always use a crosswalk to cross across the streets
Crossing the road against the traffic lights
Not looking before crossing and consequently running towards oncoming vehicles
Some states adhere to pure negligence rules, and they prohibit a pedestrian from recovering compensation if they are found at fault of negligence. This is the contributory negligence rule that basically rules on the all or nothing at all basis. In contributory negligence rule, if both parties are found at fault, both would be responsible for their injuries and the damages caused. If you or your loved one are looking for compensation and your state happens to have this contributory negligence rule, you should ensure that you are not at fault.
What Happens in a Hit and Run Incident?
Many times in a hit and run situation, the police might try to identify the driver, but many are the times that the driver is not identified. If you are a driver, your insurance company will take care of repairing the damages on the car, cover any medical bills, and cover any lost income.
What Happens If the Negligent Driver Kills The Pedestrian?
When this happens, the deceased person's loved ones or dependents may sue the driver for wrongful death. The laws regarding who may sue the driver and bring a lawsuit depend from one state to another, but mostly the spouse to the deceased and the children may be given the mandate to bring a lawsuit.
After the lawsuit of the wrongful death, what may be compensated include funeral expenses, emotional distress, income losses, medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and other expenses.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Cases
Wrongful deaths in pedestrian accidents happen when the driver kills the pedestrian as a result of the driver's negligence. Wrongful death lawsuits allow the people close to the deceased to sue the driver and get compensation for the wrongful death.
The plaintiff, however, must prove negligence, breach of duty, that the breach of duty by the defendant was the proximate cause of the death. These are the same burdens of proof that a plaintiff must carry the same way the victim would have done had he survived.
So, who has the right to file for a wrongful death lawsuit? In many states, a representative will represent the estate of the victim and those who are closely related to the victim. The close relatives in many states may include the spouse of the deceased spouse or the parent of the deceased minor. Minors can also get compensation from the lawsuit. Usually, the more the distance in the familial bonds, the harder it becomes to present a wrongful death claim.
There are also damages in the wrongful death lawsuit. The damages include the pain suffered by the deceased before they died. This damage is also known as the survival claim.
The medical bills that were incurred as a result of the treatment of the injuries that the victim incurred before his death. The funeral and burial costs are also included as damages by the wrongful death lawsuit.
If the deceased expected some income and it was lost because of the pedestrian accident, then the law considers this as damage too. If the victim also lost some inheritance as a result of their death, then this, too, will be considered damage.
If the deceased had children or anyone else that they cared for and nurtured, it would also be considered loss of care and nurturing. Something that would be considered damage by the lawsuit. The loss of the services that the victim would have rendered is also considered damage.
What a Plaintiff Needs To Make a Case
To make a case and recover compensation, there are some things that a plaintiff needs to do. The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant's negligence caused the damages.
According to personal injury law, the plaintiff will have to carry the burden of proving fault and damages to the judges. If a plaintiff's case reaches trial, the plaintiff must be accompanied by evidence that everything they are alleging is the plain truth. Therefore there are pieces of evidence that are necessary to prove a plaintiff's claim.
Pieces of Evidence That Prove a Plaintiff's Claim
The possibilities of such evidence include:
A police report that documents the cause and the circumstances that led to the pedestrian accident. So it is good to ensure that the police have gathered enough evidence at the accident scene.
The records of all medical treatments that are associated with your injury. These include multiple hospital visits, medical emergencies, therapy visits, and other medical visits.
Photographs from the accident scene. If possible, ensure that many photos have been taken at the scene.
Medical expert testimony regarding the injury that you, as a plaintiff, have. For example, a herniated disc can be caused by the aging process or by the pedestrian accident. The doctor or medical expert needs to explain that the herniated disc is as a result of the accident that was caused by the driver.
Records showing how much time you have missed at work and the income that would have generated if you had been at work.
Eye witness records that show where, when, and how the accident happened.
Factors To Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney for a Catastrophic Injury Claim
To be compensated, you need an excellent lawyer. Before you decide on hiring a personal injury attorney, below are some of the things you need to consider.
Experience. You have to ensure that the attorney you are hiring is well conversant with the personal injury law and field. It takes experience to know what to expect, what is needed, and what to do in a catastrophic lawsuit. Before hiring them, try to ask if they have ever handled cases similar to yours and how successful the cases were.
An attorney who is ready to go to trial with you. It is not a surprise if you find out that some personal injury attorneys have never stepped into a courtroom. Such an attorney is not someone you would want to help you fight for your compensation. They will advise you to settle for less than what you deserve for them to avoid court. You must ask them if they are willing to go with you to trial whenever needed.
Reputation. You need a lawyer with a strong and good reputation not only with their past clients but with their peers too. You need an attorney who attracts respect from other attorneys, insurance companies, and judges in the courtroom. To find this information, you need to find the attorney's past clients that had a similar case as yours. Call these clients and ask them their experience with this particular attorney and how they related to their peers.
Objectivity. You also want a lawyer who has your best interest at heart, not one who is looking for a quick fix so that they can jump to the next case they have.
Personality. You need to get along well with your attorney, and that is why you need someone with a good personality. Remember, you want someone you can comfortably talk to and one who will not blow you off when you need him.
Has the attorney written or lectured anyone on the field? If you find an attorney who has achieved this in their career, then you will be working with an expert. This is an overlooked factor by many people, but it is as important as the rest of the factors. If they have written books, go ahead and read some of them.
Remember, you are not in a hurry to hire an attorney, but you also need to present your case on time. Take your time and look for a good personal injury attorney. Your choice of an attorney could make or break you.
Find an Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Covering the pain and suffering of a catastrophic injury is expensive, so you need to avoid incurring more costs when you hire the wrong attorney for your case. For your case to be a successful one, you will need to hire an experienced and skilled attorney like the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney. With our many years of experience dealing with personal injury cases in the Orange County area, we have the expertise and skills that you can count on. We always have our client's best interest at heart. Get in touch with us today at 714-876-1959!