Everywhere you look, you see car accidents. T-bone, front-end collisions, rear-end high impacts, fender benders – they are all quite common. In fact, statistics show that there are over 15,000 motor vehicle accidents each day just in the United States.
Less common, however, are the car accidents that involve pedestrians, yet these crashes are just as dangerous and often result in severe injuries or fatalities.
People who are injured in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes often do not know where to go to for help. Insurance coverage can get confusing, pedestrian laws and rights are different than those of a driver, and accidents that result in fatalities require a whole different realm of law to handle, much less insurance coverage.
If you were a pedestrian hit by a car, you need to know your rights and where to go for help. Here is everything you need to know to get your medical bills and damages taken care of and ensure that your rights are upheld.
Did you know that there are ways to determine your potential likelihood to be hit by a car? While there is never a guaranteed protection from injury, and you could even be hit by a car as you are innocently sitting on your couch watching television and eating popcorn (it really has happened!) there are circumstances that increase your odds of this type of accident occurring.
Studies have shown that the type of road you are walking on plays a large role in your chances of being hit by a car. Urban roads that have pedestrian crossings situated near a curved area have the highest chance of injury or fatality. City streets that have pedestrian crossings on straight roads are much safer.
Walking on busy highways, crossing those same highways, even at the designed pedestrian crossing areas, and walking on roads that do not have sidewalks all increase your likelihood of getting hit by a car.
The time of day you are walking makes an impact, as well. Those who walk at night are more than twice as likely to not only get hit by a car, but to be fatally struck, than those who walk that same area during the daytime. Even in areas where there is sufficient lighting, walking at night is dangerous.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 5,000 pedestrian fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents in 2015, and this number has continued to increase since then. Specifically, pedestrians make up almost 15% of traffic-related deaths and 3% of injuries.
Your age plays a significant role in your potential to be injured in a car accident as a pedestrian. Children who are ten years or younger are the most likely to be severely or fatally injured by a car, and over 15% of pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accidents were under 15 years old.
This doesn’t mean once you are over 15, you are out of the danger zone, though. Over 70,000 people are hit by cars as pedestrians and receive nonfatal injuries every year.
Just like with any laws, your rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian may vary based on the state you were injured in. If you were struck by a car in Los Angeles, for example, your rights may be different than had you been injured in New York City. However, expert attorneys like Hershey Law will be able to help you through the specifics of your case.
In general, though, most pedestrians have similar obligations and rights across the country. Here is a basic overview of some of these:
1. Signals: As a pedestrian, you must follow traffic-control signals when they are provided, and so must the drivers of the cars around you.
2. Crosswalks: If there is no traffic-control signal stationed at a crosswalk, you as the pedestrian have the right of way. Drivers must stop or slow down to show that they are yielding to you.
3. Avoiding the road: If there is a curb, sidewalk, or another path off of the road, you must stay on it. Do not suddenly leave the pathway and step in front of a moving vehicle that does not have time to stop or yield for you.
4. Other cars: If a driver has yielded to you at a crosswalk, the other drivers behind them must also wait for you to pass. They cannot drive around the first driver.
5. Sidewalk crossing: You as the pedestrian have the right of way when you are crossing at a sidewalk and a car is leaving or entering a driveway or a street.
6. No pedestrian crossing: If there is not a crosswalk anywhere nearby or a traffic signal to lead the way, you as the pedestrian must give your right of way to all vehicles and wait until there are none coming to cross the road. Failure to yield, J-walking, or crossing an intersection diagonally is almost always illegal.
7. Right-hand rule: Whenever possible, pedestrians must stay on the right-hand side of a crosswalk and follow the right-hand rule at all times.
8. No sidewalks on a road: If there are no sidewalks on the road you are walking on, you should always walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
9. Standing in a road: Standing in a roadway is not allowed, even if you are trying to hitch a ride. In fact, hitchhiking is illegal in most states.
If you were abiding by these rules and obligations and were still struck by a car, you may be entitled to payment for medical bills, damages, and compensation from the driver of the vehicle that hit you.
Whether you are in a car, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian, being in a car accident can be traumatizing. The consequences of the accident, too, are stressful, and while you are dealing with the fallout, you may not even think about obtaining an attorney to help you. But if someone else was negligent and you are dealing with injuries, damages, and bills because of their negligence, you need to know your legal options.
Fault is the first factor an attorney will likely discuss with you. Fault with a pedestrian accident is important because in many states, if you as the pedestrian were solely at fault, you may not have any legal recourse to paying your bills. However, your attorney knows the laws for your state and may be able to determine if another party was even partially at fault.
Sometimes fault is easy to recognize. If the driver of the car that hit you was under the influence, ran a red light, was speeding, or distracted while driving, you have an obvious lawsuit. Other times, you may have been hit as a side effect of two other vehicles colliding, in which case your attorney will have to prove who was primarily at fault.
Once the at-fault party is determined, you and your attorney can discuss potential damages. In any personal injury lawsuit, compensation received is given with the intention of easing suffering from the damages done. This means that you may be entitled to both financial and non-monetary compensation.
Common categories of damages that are often received by the injured party in a personal injury lawsuit include the following:
In some cases, the driver’s insurance company may contact you and offer to pay your medical bills and maybe even give you a small compensation for your suffering. If you choose to accept this, then you will sign away your rights to any further payment from that insurance company, even if your medical bills continue to add up beyond their policy limits.
It is highly suggested by most experts that before you sign to any final agreement with an insurance company, you speak with a lawyer about your legal options. The insurance company’s ultimate goal is to increase their bottom line, which is usually done by limiting their out-of-pocket expenses on claim payouts.
Be careful not to let the stress you are in currently, the promise of a carrot in a small pot of money, or the hurry to be done with the situation entirely entice you into agreeing to something that may end up limiting you or even costing you money in the long run.
Before you make any decisions regarding your legal and financial obligations for your injuries in your pedestrian/ motor vehicle accident, call the experts at Hershey Law for your free consultation. Let them help you make an informed decision about how to proceed with your case before you sign on any dotted line.