Pedestrian accidents can take various forms. Some pedestrians are knocked down by bikes, others by vehicles, and unleashed dogs attack others. All these accidents can result in severe injuries, which might cost a lot of money and take time to heal. Personal injury laws in the state cover these accidents to allow pedestrians that have been accidentally injured get compensation for their damages.
If you have suffered injuries from a pedestrian accident in California, know that you can pursue compensation from the liable party. What you need is the help of an experienced personal injury attorney like The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm. If you hire us, we will take you through the legal process, protect your rights against violation, and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Understanding Pedestrian Accident Laws in California
As a pedestrian in the state of California, several things could cause your injuries while on the road. It could be a vehicle that fails to yield, carelessly ridden bikes on the sidewalks, cars driven on the sidewalks, accidents from electric scooters, other pedestrians, or even uncontrolled dogs. Most pedestrian accidents witnessed in the state are controllable. That is why there are laws in place to help injured pedestrians seek compensation in case they are injured as a result of another person’s fault.
Compensation is sought by filing a personal injury claim against the negligent party. The amount of money you will include in your application will be based on the damages you have incurred as a result of the accident. They will be determined by the total amount incurred in medical bills, the total amount of lost wages during the period you were recovering from your injuries as well as the pain and suffering you have undergone after the accident. The help of an experienced personal injury attorney will go a long way in helping you determine the at-fault party as well as compensatory damages to include in your claim.
California has very clear negligence laws that seek to protect any person that is injured through negligence or another person's careless acts. For instance, if a driver is negligent, he/she will be liable for all the resulting damages if their negligence caused injuries to another person or entity. If a person loses their life, their family is allowed by law to seek compensation for all the damages incurred after the death of their kin. However, they must prove that the other party was negligent. The evidence required will involve the following:
- Proof that the alleged negligent party had a duty of care to the pedestrian
- Proof that the negligent party breached that duty of care
- Proof that his/her negligence was the direct cause of the pedestrian’s injuries or death
Drivers, motorcyclists, bikers, pedestrians, and other road users owe each other a duty of care while on the road to protect each other from accidents. If a driver is negligent, other people are bound to get hurt, especially pedestrians. There are more ways through which a driver can be careless while on the road. His/her negligence could be demonstrated through traffic violations, speeding, and distracted driving, among others.
Among the many traffic rules involving drivers and pedestrians in California is that drivers are required to yield to pedestrians, especially on intersections or marked crosswalks. The rule is provided under Section 21960 of California Vehicle Code. If a driver fails to observe such a traffic rule, then he/she is likely to cause an accident that will result in severe injuries on the pedestrian.
Again, Section 21709 of California Vehicle Code prohibits drivers from using the safety zones that are specially designated for pedestrians. Drivers who violate this rule will, most likely, cause an accident that will leave them fighting unending legal battles in civil courts.
However, it is worth noting that pedestrians could also be held responsible for accidents in which they have been injured. A pedestrian that is not using a crosswalk may be partially liable for the resulting damages in the event an accident occurs. Even so, the driver may be held responsible as well. Other common careless acts that could result in pedestrian accidents include speeding, running stop signs, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, texting while driving, and going around stopped school buses.
Determining Liability in a Pedestrian Accident
The most important thing in any personal injury case is determining liability. When the liable party is determined, the injured can file a claim against them in a civil court. Alternatively, their lawyer can seek an out-of-court settlement to avoid going through the tedious legal process. However, determining the liable party is always a major challenge. No one is going to admit fault in an accident that has left one or more people seriously injured. That is why you need the help of an experienced attorney who can engage other experts in establishing liability.
It all starts with the determination of the cause of the accident. If a pedestrian has been knocked down by a vehicle, there are so many factors that could have contributed to the accident. These should be determined and weighed down for the cause of the accident to be determined. If it is established that the motorist was negligent, he/she will be held responsible for all the consequences of that accident. Motorist negligent can happen if:
- He/she was operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- He/she was speeding
- He/she did not give the right of way to the pedestrian.
- He/she was not paying attention to the road or due to distracted driving.
That is why the accident victim should collect as much evidence from the accident scene as possible. The proof will be very helpful in determining what happened and who could be held responsible.
The next thing the accident victim should do is to notify the alleged at-fault party’s insurance provider. It is the company he/she will be dealing with in getting compensation for all the damages incurred in the accident. Note that working with an insurance company will not be as easy as one would expect. Insurance companies are in the business of making profits and so will do their best to retain as much of your compensation as possible. For that reason, working with an experienced personal injury attorney could help you recover the amount of payment you deserve.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
One of the challenges you will face when pursuing your compensation after a pedestrian accident is in dealing with an insurance company. However, this is the only way you will get your payment if the at-fault party is an insured motorist. The advantage of doing this as soon as possible is because the insurance company will want to settle the matter quickly. It means that you might receive your compensation sooner.
However, there are tips that you should have, that will enable you to conduct a smooth negotiation with the insurance company. They will also ensure that you get the full compensation you deserve for your damages. Let us look into some of the things you should know about dealing with insurance companies:
Contact the Insurance Company Immediately After the Accident
When a person gets into a road accident in California, the law provides that he/she stops until law enforcement officers clear them. If this happens in an accident where the pedestrian is the victim, it means that the suspected at-fault driver will be there, to offer help, provide his/her details as well as details of his/her insurance provider. Once the cause of the accident and the at-fault party are determined, the accident victim can proceed to get in touch with his/her insurance provider.
Note that this should be done as soon as possible to avoid any delays, that could cause you to miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit as provided in the Statute of Limitations. If the victim requires emergency medical services, this could wait until they are treated. This way, he/she will have information to provide to the insurance provider on the nature and extent of his/her injuries.
Engage a Competent Personal Injury Attorney
No person is well-prepared to handle an accident situation, and so, the experience brings with it a lot of confusion. You may not know what to do and what not to do until you receive the advice of a person that is experienced in handling such issues. For that reason, identifying and hiring an experienced personal injury attorney should come first even before you start your negotiations with the insurance provider.
An experienced attorney will explain the various options you have, based on your case. He/she will also have your best interests in mind and so, will work towards recovering the highest possible amount of compensation. From their experience, personal injury attorneys have dealt with all kinds of insurance companies. Therefore, no tricks the insurance provider will use can work on them.
An experienced attorney is also conversant with the legal processes involving pedestrian accidents. For that reason, he/she will guide you to the end, to ensure a smooth process and that you are meeting all the deadlines. If you have been seriously injured, you will be able to concentrate on your healing as your attorneys take over the case. He/she can gather enough evidence, determine the at-fault party, and proceed to negotiate with the insurance company as you take care of yourself.
Negotiations Will Be Conducted By an Adjuster
The victim will establish the first contact between the injured person and the insurance company. He/she is required to send a demand letter to the insurance company, providing the details of the accident and what they need in compensation. In any kind of accident, a person is bound to get injured, both physically and financially. The insurance company may obtain this information from other sources but will only act if the accident victim contacts them. The letter will provide not only details about the accident but also reasons why you think that the alleged at-fault party is indeed responsible for your damages.
Once the demand letter is received, the insurance company will respond by sending an insurance adjuster to speak to you on their behalf. Adjusters are trained negotiators. Since they are working for the insurance company, their best interest rests squarely with the insurer. It means that the adjuster will always look into ways in which they can deny you the compensation or offer less than you deserve. Adjusters will use all manner of tricks to make you sign an agreement that favors the insurance company. If you are desperate or in a hurry to get some money, you can quickly fall into their traps.
The insurance adjuster will act friendly, just to lure you to take the deal the insurance company is offering. However good he/she may be to you, it is important to think of what you deserve and only go for that. There is no way he/she will have your best interests in mind. Therefore, be careful what you say to them or agree with as it may ruin your chances of recovering full compensation. Working with an attorney will help protect your rights, as well as ensure that you are not settling for less.
Insurance Companies Do Not Have an Obligation to Treat the Victim Fairly
As mentioned above, insurance companies, just like other companies, are in business to make profits. The more money they retain from compensations, the higher their profit margins. It means that the company will not be quick to pay out what you ask in your demand letter. It does not have any obligation to be nice to you or to treat you promptly. Therefore, if the victim is not careful, they may lose a lot during the negotiations, and the insurance company will quickly move on to the next victim.
With that understanding, it is important to act tough during these negotiations. Do not give the insurance adjuster the idea that you may be willing to take less than you deserve. He/she may drag the case on for a long time, hoping that you will give up along the way and accept what is on offer. They will aim at passing the deadline provided by the Statute of Limitations, which will leave you with none other option than accepting the company's offer.
An experienced attorney will make it clear to the insurance company that you have the option of filing the case with the civil court if the out-of-court negotiations are not yielding any fruits. He/she can give the insurance adjuster a deadline by which they must act, failure to which the victim will proceed to file the lawsuit. The insurance company will be prompted to act first because it stands to lose a lot if the case proceeds to the civil court.
Do Not be Quick to Accept the First Offer
The first offer the insurance company will give is not always a fair one. Therefore, do not be quick to accept it. The insurance adjuster will try to provide you with a quick settlement, claiming that it is in your best interest. The truth is that the company wants to pay less than they have to, and will be hoping that a quick settlement will lure you into accepting that offer.
If you have been seriously injured in the accident, you may be tempted to accept the offer so you can settle the accumulating hospital bills and other financial needs you might have. However, it is good to have a clear perspective from the beginning. It is the only way you will be sure to recover full compensation.
Again, some injuries worsen with time, which you may not be aware of from the beginning. Accepting a quick settlement from the insurance company means that some of those injuries will not be catered for. Other injuries might take a long time to heal. These will not let you continue working and going on with your day to day activities until you recover fully. A quick settlement will deny you a chance to recover such damages and financial losses, such as lost wages.
Do not be quick to settle the case out of court, however desperate you may be. Wait until you get the full medical report from your doctor. Also, seek legal help to understand what you should accept and what you should not accept as a settlement.
The Insurance Company May Avoid Paying Your Medical Expenses
As mentioned above, the insurance company will always look into ways through which they can pay you less compensation than you deserve. One of the things they will try to overlook is your injuries. The insurance adjuster may suggest that you are exaggerating about the injuries sustained. Some will even accuse you of attempting to defraud the insurance company. They could obtain a report showing that the injuries you claim to have suffered in the accident were pre-existing and only got worse after the accident. That is why it is advisable to go to an emergency room immediately after an accident.
If an accident victim does not seek medical care immediately after the accident, it could be an indication that they are not seriously injured. The insurance adjuster may use this fact against you, just to deny you a chance of recovering full compensation.
Also, ensure that you keep all your medical records to use them as proof of the medical expenses you have incurred after the accident. Get a medical report, too, showing the likely cause of your injuries and how long those injuries might take to heal. Include over-the-counter medications and any other expenses incurred while seeking medical help, including transportation costs.
Be Careful What You Say
When it comes to dealing with insurance companies, what you say can and will be used against you. Therefore, watch out what you say, especially to the insurance adjuster. Once the company receives your demand letter, an adjuster assigned to your case will call to confirm your claims. That will be the time you should be very careful about what you say. The adjuster will, probably, record your conversation. He/she will also focus on questions that could cause you to contradict yourself. If you are not careful, you may end up losing your chance of getting compensated for your damages.
Among the questions, the adjuster will be asking you maybe how you are doing. A lot of people will be quick to respond that they are okay, which to the adjuster may mean that you are not seriously injured. The adjuster will also want to know the details of your injuries, which you may not understand, especially if you have just sought medical help. Lastly, he/she may want to know what caused the accident from your point of view. All these questions may seem harmless and straightforward, but it could be a trick to deny your compensation.
Do not agree to every question asked by the insurance adjuster or anyone that is working for the insurance company. This is the point where you engage an experienced attorney and only refer them to your attorney whenever they call. Avoid giving them a recorded statement. Also, do not sign any agreements until it is approved by your attorney, even a deal that seems reasonable.
Find a Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in California, you may be worried about where to start to recover your damages. This is the point where you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we offer guidance, support, and advice to accident victims to ensure that they are recovering the compensation they deserve from insurance companies. Call us at 619-625-8707, and allow us to be there for you when you need it.