Pedestrian accidents are sudden and often tragic because of the lack of protection for the victim. The causes of these accidents are diverse from vehicles, tripping over broken sidewalks, and being hit by cyclists among others. The accidents may result in injuries. Pedestrian accident injuries are expensive to treat, especially those involving vehicles, and in some cases fatal. Fortunately, a pedestrian can recover damages in California for injuries from the at-fault party provided they can prove their negligence.
Pursuing damages, however, without an attorney can be frustrating for anyone. Focusing on your recovery becomes your priority as you allow an experienced attorney to take over your case for the best compensation. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we have years of experience helping our clients receive favorable damages for the injuries they sustain as pedestrians.
What You Should Do If You Get Knocked Down as a Pedestrian
As earlier stated, pedestrians get injured in various ways. Some of the common causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Cars failing to yield to pedestrians
- Cyclists and motorcyclists using the sidewalk
- Vehicles on the path according to VEH 21663
- Unleashed or uncontrolled dogs
- Scooter accidents
- Fellow pedestrians knocking you down, among many more
If you get injured due to another person's negligence, you can claim damages according to California's personal injury laws. You can pursue damages from the at-fault party's insurance coverage or file a lawsuit in court to recover your losses.
In some cases, you may not know the party responsible for your pedestrian accident. However, speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney will help you figure it out and seek damages from the liable party.
Whether you are at the parking lot, on the road, or crosswalk, a car can hit you, leaving you with devastating injuries. According to California's negligence laws, you will be required to show the driver's negligence to receive damages. This means you must show:
- The motorist owed you a duty of care.
- He or she through negligence violated the duty of care.
- The negligence significantly contributed to your injuries or death.
Drivers in California owe a duty of care to fellow drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists as well. With your lawyer's help, you can show driver's negligence by citing traffic violations, reckless or distracted driving, and other actions considered negligent.
One prevalent cause of pedestrian accidents involving a vehicle is the driver's failure to give way to pedestrians. According to VEH 21960, a driver must give way to you if at a crossroad or a marked crosswalk.
According to VEH 21709, the law is illegal for a driver to operate their vehicle in a safety zone. These areas are designated for the safety of pedestrians, and there is no vehicle traffic. If a driver violates this statute and strikes you, he or she will be held responsible for your injuries.
A driver can still be accountable for your injuries even when you were not at a crosswalk. If the driver shows negligence at any other part and knocks you down or a loved one, they are still liable for the injuries.
Aside from the discussed causes, a driver can also show negligence and be responsible for your damages if he or she displayed the following behaviors:
- Driving at high speeds
- Failed to yield way
- Moving around a school bus that has stopped
- Disregarding a stop sign
- Texting while driving, which is a violation of VEH 23123.5
- Operating a car while impaired by alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Failing to give adequate space to pedestrians entering a parked vehicle
If you are a victim of a pedestrian accident, speaking to your attorney is critical before talking to the motorist's insurance provider. Insurance companies are in a profit-making business, meaning they will avoid paying hefty claims as much as they can. Because of this, they will always offer to settle claims for the minimum amount they can. However, with an attorney, you will not be taken for granted, and your interests will be cared for.
Other Forms of Pedestrian Accidents and Recovering Compensation
Most people wrongly assume that pedestrian accidents are limited to those that involve vehicles. However, pedestrians can be involved in many different kinds of accidents that they require to recover damages from. Some other ways you can get knocked down and seek compensation include:
Compensation When Hit by a Scooter
Riding a scooter is common in some areas along the pathways or parking lots. As a pedestrian, you are also at risk of getting knocked down by a scooter if the rider is negligent. The impact can result in you falling to the ground and hitting the hard surface with great force. Because of a lack of protective gear, the impact can result in injuries that require medical attention and time to heal.
If this happens, the owner or rider of the scooter is held liable for your accident. With your attorney's help, you can recover the cost of treating your injuries and lost wages, among other damages. Your attorney must demonstrate the negligence of the scooter rider in causing the accident that resulted in you suffering financial and bodily injuries.
Compensation When Hit by a Biker
Some cities make it illegal for bikes to use a sidewalk, while others allow it. Irrespective, a cyclist can knock you down and leave you with severe injuries. When this happens, you are entitled to seek damages for the treatment for your injuries. However, in recovering damages, you must demonstrate that:
- The biker was negligent or portrayed negligent behaviors that led to the accident such as riding fast or
- The biker rode with wanton or intentional disregard for other people's safety, such as jumping over your feet.
In cities where biking on the sidewalk is illegal, an accident caused by a biker makes them liable for the injuries that result. Violating this statute becomes a show of negligence.
Compensation When a Truck or Bus is Driven Close to the Sidewalk
These big vehicles have their side mirrors extending past their edge. If a bus comes to a stop, it can hit you with its side mirror and cause injuries. A coach can also knock you off as it pulls up at a bus station, resulting in severe injuries. If a bus or a truck hits you in this way, you can seek damages for the injuries they cause you.
If the bus or truck driver was an employee, you could still recover damages from their driver under the Respondeat Superior Laws. Under this statute, an employer is held accountable for the damages you suffer because of their employee's negligence.
Compensation When You are Injured Because of a Broken Sidewalk
As a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk, you can also trip and fall. This can happen if the pavement is broken or the surface is icy. The injuries you sustain may also be substantial, depending on the impact of your fall. When this happens, you can receive compensation for your losses under the premises liability laws. According to this statute, any person who occupies or owns a property is required to keep it safe, including pedestrians’ sidewalks.
While seeking damages, however, you will be required to determine the following in your lawsuit:
- That the defendant is the property owner or occupied and controlled it at the time of your accident
- He or she was negligent in keeping the property in a good and safe condition.
- You were injured because of the negligence, and the negligence substantially contributed to your injuries.
If the city is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in safe conditions, an accident due to negligence will be their responsibility. Your lawyer can file a slip and fall lawsuit in seeking your damages. Your attorney will show that the city or county was aware of the sidewalk's dangerous condition and neglected in correcting the situation. You may also show that the city or county was aware of other accidents from the same sidewalk previously and still failed to rectify it.
What Injuries Can You Get Awarded for as a Pedestrian?
Anyone walking on a sidewalk, parking lot, crossing the road, or public place is at risk of being injured. A pedestrian can be a motorist walking from their car, a child, a teenager, or an older adult. If you are walking and not riding a bicycle or driving a vehicle at the time of an accident, you get damages as a pedestrian.
If you are knocked down as you walk, or a loved one is, the injuries sustained are varied and depend on the accident's location and cause. An ordinary fall may seem simple to some people, but unfortunately, it can cause serious injuries. Some of the injuries you can sustain and get compensated for include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic facial injuries
- Lacerations, bruises, and cuts
- Spinal, neck or head injuries
- Brain injuries
- Internal injuries
What You Should Do After Getting Knocked Down
What you do immediately following your pedestrian accident will contribute mainly to your recovery from the injuries and your compensation. Remember that insurance providers and even parties responsible for your accident will fight liability for the accident. Because of this, your case demanding payment must be strong and backed with substantial evidence.
Avoid doing anything that may jeopardize your chance of receiving compensation. Instead, engage in activities that will enhance your case. Some of the things you should do include:
Report the Incident to the Police
Any accident especially involving a motorist and resulting in injuries, must be communicated or reported to the authorities. The police are trained to investigate such incidences and generate a police report that most insurance providers use to establish liability.
Collect Evidence from the Accident Scene
When you feel it is safe, collect all the evidence you can that will support your claim. For instance, if you have a smartphone with you, take pictures of the scene, property damage, the probable cause of the accident, or anything else around the scene. If there were witnesses to the accident, try and get their contacts and ask them to provide a written and signed statement even at a later date.
Equally, you must get details of the other party to the accident. If a cyclist, get their names and address among additional information. If the party in an accident with you is a motorist, getting the details of the vehicle involved, their insurance provider, and their details are critical.
Never Admit Responsibility
Instinctively, you may find yourself apologizing for the accident. Unfortunately, the words you use even as a courtesy can be used to conclude responsibility. The responsible party can argue that you apologized for the accident because you felt guilty about it. Instead, avoid talking much but instead refer everything to your attorney.
Get Medical Care
Some of the most severe injuries in road accidents are those suffered by pedestrians. Unlike motorists or passengers that are protected inside a vehicle, an impact during an accident hits the pedestrian directly. Even when you think you are not injured, you may have sustained internal injuries resulting in death. Seeking medical help for your injuries is critical, as your health must always be a priority.
Ensure you discuss with your doctor everything you feel and go through all the necessary tests and procedures to eliminate other problems in the future. All the medical records cost of treatment and medication must be well documented. One of the highest costs to recover following a pedestrian accident is the cost of treatment. Without proper documentation, some expenses may not be compensated, and you end up incurring unnecessary losses.
Report to Your Insurance Provider
California is a fault state. This means that the party responsible for the accident is held accountable for the damages. Reporting the incident to your insurance provider is essential in avoiding fraudulent claims from the other party. Just as you feel the other party is responsible for your injuries, they may be feeling the same way too. As a result, they may seek damages from your insurance provider or partially blame you for the accident.
Your insurance carrier will help investigate the accident's cause to protect you from fraudulent claims, as they defend themselves. Let your insurance provider know all the details of the accident, like where it happened, the party responsible, and the injuries sustained.
At the same time, the other party will have reported the accident to their insurance provider. Expect calls from the at-fault party's insurance providers, with some offering you early settlement. When these calls come, refer them to your attorney and avoid recording any statement or signing medical release forms.
Identify a Personal Injury Attorney
Although you can seek damages directly, having a lawyer on your side is always a smart move. The insurance providers know a lawyer understands compensation laws and will not take advantage of you. Equally, the pressure of recovering from injuries and pursuing damages at the same time can be overwhelming. However, a lawyer has all the resources required at their disposal and will passionately pursue your claims to a favorable end.
Damages You Receive Compensation for as a Pedestrian
The damages awarded to a pedestrian depend on the injuries and whether death resulted following the accident. When you are injured as a pedestrian, you are entitled to compensatory damages. These damages are designed to put you back to your financial position before the accident occurred. Recoverable damages to you in this case include:
One of the crucial things in your life is your health. When you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you must seek treatment for your injuries. The cost of treatment is compensable to a pedestrian in California. This includes your doctor's fee, cost of drugs, medical procedures, and hospital bills. Every document supporting this expense must be well kept to accompany your claim to the insurance company or to be used as evidence in your lawsuit.
Lost Wages and Earnings
Most pedestrian accidents result in significant injuries, especially when they involve a vehicle. In most cases, you will miss work as you seek treatment for your injuries. Equally, if the injuries were catastrophic, it may mean losing your ability to work for an extended period or the rest of your life. The earnings you lose as a result are compensable to you.
When seeking these types of damages, you must accompany your claim with evidence of your employment and the earnings you have lost. Your employer should give a letter to this effect and may be called to testify if required.
The psychological trauma, especially when you sustained substantial injuries that alter your life is overwhelming. If you require mental help to cope with the new situation, the cost of therapy is compensable. Have a written report from your therapist that details your need for treatment and the price as you present your claim for damages.
A pedestrian knockdown can result in you losing a leg or an arm. Although there is no documented cost for a lost limb, compensation for your loss is given. At the same time, replacing your lost body part with a prosthetic limb is compensable to you. These costs are also supported by documents indicating the price and the doctor's report and fee.
Disfigurement and Scarring
The direct impact on pedestrian accidents can result in severe scarring and disfigurement. When this happens, you may need reconstructive surgery to get you back to where you were before the accident. The cost of this surgery is compensable to you.
Pain and Suffering
When you suffer a pedestrian accident, you undergo a lot of misery as you recover from your injuries. Documents do not support this type of damage, but it is compensable in California. The amount of compensation is case-based, meaning it depends on the extent of injuries sustained. The jury will look at your injuries, and the possible time it will take to recover from them in awarding you these damages.
When a spouse of an intimate domestic partner is involved in a pedestrian accident, you are entitled to this type of compensation. The injuries to your partner can be such that you lose their companionship or intimacy. This type of loss, although not quantifiable, a spouse can get compensated for it when their partner suffers significant injuries due to a pedestrian accident.
When You are Blamed for the Accident
It is common to assume that a pedestrian who gets hurt following an accident, especially one involving a vehicle, will be compensated fully because the other party is to blame. Not all accidents are purely the fault of the motorist or the other party. If the other party accuses you of being responsible for the accident, the jury has to determine the level of blame. The most important thing is for you not to admit fault even when it seems obvious.
However, even when it is established that you have some responsibility for the accident, all is not lost. Under the comparative negligence law, you are still entitled to compensation based on your degree of fault. Your lawyer will argue your case presenting evidence that supports the other party to have been responsible for the injuries. The other party will also present its case, and in the end, the jury will determine the degree of fault. Damages, in this case, will be apportioned according to the determination by the jury.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Near Me
Compensation cannot bring back your health, especially when your injuries were substantial. However, the cost of recovering, treating the injuries and other losses you incur as a result, must be compensated to get you back to where you were before financially. Determining fault is complicated and requires an experienced attorney that understands the various aspects of a pedestrian accident to represent you. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we understand the complexity of seeking damages as a pedestrian and are determined to help you with the process. Call us at 714-876-1959, and we shall discuss your case in detail.