Car accidents occur every day on our roads. Many people are injured as a result of the accident leaving the victim with considerable amounts in medical debt, among others. Car accidents do not involve motorists only, but pedestrians too. When pedestrians are hit by a vehicle, it is assumed that the vehicle owner or driver is automatically at fault. This is not always the case. There are many causes of road accidents involving pedestrians. Sometimes, the pedestrian will also be responsible for the accident or will share blame for the collision with the driver.
Irrespective of the party at fault, both victims are entitled to receive damages suffered. When involved in a pedestrian accident, determining fault can be challenging, but an experienced lawyer can help you establish it to get compensation. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has a team of lawyers experienced in pursuing claims for their clients, contact us for more information on determining fault.
Overview of Pedestrian Accidents
When a car accident happens involving a pedestrian, the pedestrian often suffers significantly more injuries than the car occupants. Sometimes, the car will not be damaged, and its occupants will not be injured. This is because compared to vehicle occupants, pedestrians lack protection by any safety measures, and the impact is direct to their bodies.
Vehicle accidents can be devastating, but pedestrian accidents can be more devastating due to the injuries a victim sustains. A person’s body is delicate, meaning even when a vehicle is moving at a low speed, an impact can lead to significant injuries. Victims of pedestrian accidents also sustain catastrophic injuries. Some of the injuries a pedestrian can suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord and neck injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Knee and leg injuries
- Torn ligaments
- Internal bleeding
- Lost limbs or amputations
- Nerve injuries
- Lacerations and severe cuts
These injuries can lead to fatality and how critical they are, depending on multiple factors like the speed of the vehicle, where the impact was, and the body part hit.
When a person is a victim of a pedestrian accident, they have a right to receive compensation for various damages. However, the insurance company of the party responsible for the accident pays for them to recover damages. This makes it essential to have an attorney to help determine fault in an accident so that one does not lose on their damages. The causes of a pedestrian accident can also help determine the party at fault.
Prevalent Causes of Accidents Involving Pedestrians
When an accident happens involving a pedestrian, many people, as earlier stated, assume the driver is always at fault and is responsible for the damages. The most crucial question in such an accident is who is liable for the damages whose fault it was for the accident to happen. Before a driver is blamed for the accident, there must be a determination that they were 100% responsible, or the injured pedestrian shares the blame.
If both the driver and the pedestrian share fault, what percentage is each at fault for the crash? In California, when apportioning liability in an accident, the comparative negligence law is used. It is crucial for one to know the party responsible for the accident and examine the reasons for pedestrian accidents. These causes are:
- Over speeding – Moving at very high speeds makes it difficult for a driver to control their car when faced with a pedestrian or other emergency on the road. Driving at rates not permitted in certain areas is a violation of traffic rules.
- Drunk driving or under the influence – Driving while intoxicated is an offense in California that is punished according to the law. When a person is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, their mind is impaired, meaning they are not able to control their driving or their response time when faced with an emergency is slow. A drunk driver can miss seeing a pedestrian and hit them or violates a traffic rule that leads to the accident.
- Distracted driving – Sometimes, a driver can be eating, drinking, or texting while driving. A pedestrian without knowing the driver is distracted would cross the road, but the driver fails to see them and hits them.
- Disregarding traffic lights – Lights are there to control both traffic and pedestrians. A pedestrian may cross when they are not supposed to and are hit. A driver can also run light and hit a pedestrian that was rightfully crossing the road.
- Turning without checking for pedestrians – When turning left, a driver must be vigilant to notice other cars and pedestrians. Negligently turning can result in a pedestrian accident.
- Failing to stop at a stop sign – When a driver fails to make a complete halt at a stop sign, he or she may end up hitting a pedestrian who assumes that the driver will stop for them to cross.
- Dangerous road conditions – Some roads can be in adverse conditions that a driver finds it impossible to control their vehicle. A way with a big pothole in the middle can see a driver swerving to the side while trying to avoid it. In the process, a pedestrian standing on the side can be hit.
- Bad weather – Sometimes, the weather can be horrible, causing poor visibility. In such weather, a pedestrian without reflective clothing may be hard to see and ends up being knocked down.
- Pedestrians can also be found on the crosswalk while they are not supposed to be there. The driver can end up hitting them.
- The sidewalk is meant for pedestrians - A driver can drive off the highway and choose to drive on the sidewalk. This is likely to result in an accident involving a pedestrian.
- Pedestrians are not supposed to walk on the road but the sidewalk. If a pedestrian is walking along the highway, it is likely they can be hit by a vehicle on the road.
In establishing liability, it is crucial to determine the cause of the accident. Your lawyer can team up with accident reconstruction specialists to prove who is at fault in a pedestrian accident.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident Involving a Pedestrian
A person involved in a pedestrian accident is entitled to seek compensation for damages suffered following the accident. However, this may be impossible without proving that another person or entity was negligent, and their negligence resulted in the accident. If you were a victim of a pedestrian-car accident, your lawyer would help you prove the other party was at fault because they failed to behave prudently. To determine this, you must illustrate:
The Motorist Had a Duty of Care to The Pedestrian
According to VEH 21950 in California, drivers must give pedestrians crossing the road right of way. This does not matter if the pedestrian was in a marked crossroad or unmarked one. According to the law, a driver must exercise the duty of care by reducing their speed or taking the appropriate action that would safeguard the pedestrian. A person must drive their car in a way that ensures the safety of the pedestrian.
The Driver Breached the Duty of Care as Required By The Law
In trying to prove negligence, it is crucial to show how the duty of care was violated. The driver owes pedestrians a duty of care. If a driver failed to behave in a prudent way resulting in the accident, that is a breach of care. If you can prove that the driver breached their duty of care, that is negligence. When a driver is said to be negligent, it means they created a situation that exposed the pedestrian to risk above the standard one.
For instance, a driver can be negligent by running a red light, and this would increase the chance of a pedestrian accident. Sometimes, proving a breach of the duty of care can be difficult. A driver can also have been within the law even when they knocked a pedestrian down. But, because a driver is required to behave in a manner that ensures the wellbeing of a pedestrian, he or she can be found negligent. This is if they were moving at speed, not safe for a pedestrian.
The Injuries Were Due To The Violation of Duty of Care
When a pedestrian is seeking damages for injuries sustained, they must determine that the motorist owed them a duty of care, which got breached and resulted in injuries. You must show the driver was careless, and as a direct result of their carelessness, an accident occurred. Proving this can be complicated, making it necessary to have a lawyer to help you through the process.
The Victim Suffered Damages as a Result of The Injuries
Losses are the last aspect of proving negligence in a pedestrian-car accident. When a pedestrian is hit by a car, they are vulnerable to life-altering and prolonged damages. The outcome of the accident, in most cases, is traumatizing to the victim. He or she can suffer physical, emotional, psychological, and financial damages. These damages not only affect the victim but their family as well. To receive the damages deserved, the victim must prove they suffered them because of the failure of another person to act reasonably.
Although this may seem easy, the party at-fault will have their lawyer and insurance provider work at reducing their liability by claiming the victim was also negligent. For instance, they can allege you had no reflective clothing while crossing the road at night. It may be alleged the victim was walking along the highway instead of the sidewalk or was passing at the wrong place with no crosswalk. If this is established, the court will accept it and apportion blame to both the driver and the pedestrian.
This is another reason why a pedestrian needs a lawyer to help gather every evidence that will assist prove negligence and be rightfully compensated.
Who can be Found Responsible for a Pedestrian Car Accident?
Determining fault in a pedestrian-car accident requires looking at the causes of the accident. Once the cause is established, it becomes easier to apportion blame or responsibility for the damages as a result. Several parties are held responsible for the costs. These may include:
The Vehicle Driver
Many pedestrian-car accidents are as a result of the driver’s negligence. Reckless driving, intoxicated, and distracted drivers are a reason for many pedestrian accidents. When negligence is proven, as discussed earlier, the driver takes responsibility for the damages suffered. Your lawyer must work at showing the driver was negligent, and his behavior resulted in the accident. Due to the accident, you suffered losses that the driver must take responsibility for.
An accident involving a pedestrian makes the pedestrian most vulnerable. However, these accidents are not always entirely the fault of a driver. According to VEH 21950(b), the law provides regulations on how pedestrians must behave. A pedestrian should not suddenly walk from a safe place onto a road where a vehicle is close and can cause an accident. Just as drivers must exercise a duty of care, pedestrians must be mindful while on the highways or roads.
Pedestrians must act responsibly by obeying traffic rules. This will include using crosswalks and crossing when the lights permit them to do so. There are areas where pedestrians are prohibited from walking, such as along the road. This rule must also be obeyed. When crossing the road at night, a pedestrian is expected to wear reflective clothes that will enable a motorist to notice them.
When a pedestrian fails in their duty, they may be held responsible for the accident that caused them to suffer damages. In awarding damages in such a case, comparative theory law will be used.
Sometimes an accident involving a pedestrian may not have been because of the driver or pedestrian. Other factors, as earlier discussed in the causes of accidents, may be blamed. For instance, the brakes in a car can fail despite the driver’s best efforts. When a vehicle part fails, the manufacturer of the part or vehicle may be held liable for the damages. If a dangerous road condition was the cause of the accident, the government entity responsible for maintaining the right road conditions could be held liable for the damages.
How The Police Help in Determining Fault
Following a pedestrian accident, it is wise to wait for the law enforcement officers at the scene. This is important when you believe that the driver was responsible for the collision. Unfortunately, pedestrians can sustain severe injuries, so it is best to seek medical attention to save their lives.
When the police arrive at the scene, they secure the area so that they can look for clues that will help determine how the accident happened. They will also interview the victims of the crash that includes the pedestrian if there and the vehicle occupants. If there are eyewitnesses to the accident, the police will also talk to them to find the accident's definitive cause.
The police will also look at the area to determine if any traffic rules were violated. If there were traffic lights where the accident happened, they would want to determine whether the pedestrian or driver disregarded the traffic lights. If there are cameras in the vicinity, a recording of the accident will be traced to show how the accident happened.
The officers will also take photos of the scene to show the angle of the accident and if there are any skid marks on the road. If the driver claims that their brakes failed, the police will investigate the allegation and give their report. If the accident were due to poor road conditions or weather, the police would establish that and put it in their report.
The police report may include statements indicating a fault. However, this is not necessarily true. Although the report is essential in guiding and in most cases persuading the insurance providers and the court on the party at fault, it is not always accurate.
At the scene, the police officers will issue citations if they believe the driver violated the law, carries out further investigations, and sometimes arrests the driver. For example, if the driver smells of alcohol or appears intoxicated, the police should carry out field sobriety tests. If the driver fails the tests, he or she can be arrested to allow for further testing. Chemical tests at the station will help determine the level of impairment that will determine whether the driver should be charged with a DUI offense.
When a driver is charged with an offense, even that of reckless driving, substantial evidence in determining fault cannot be easily challenged. Due to this, the role the police play in determining fault in a pedestrian-car accident is crucial.
The Role Your Lawyer Plays in Determining Fault
A popular question following an accident is what else or who else would help determine fault other than a police report. Whereas the police report is crucial in determining fault, it does not always get it right 100%. In most cases, the report is accurate, but a small percentage that could be most significant is not always right. Other times, the report can be entirely wrong.
The police are likely to get their report wrong when it is one-sided. This happens when the injured victim is unable to talk and give their side of the story. This happens either because of their injuries or is in hospital. It is even worse when the victim dies at the scene. The police sometimes focus on the version of the people at the scene. In doing so, they forget the victim in the hospital has a story too.
Getting a lawyer to help you with your case is crucial because he or she will ensure that the fault is determined without bias. A law firm often works with accident reconstruction experts and investigators to determine fault. These experts will take into account skid marks at the accident scene and measure them. These experts carry out independent investigations that will involve talking to any person that witnessed the accident, the driver, the victim, and ambulance personnel. The police report is also analyzed as well as the photos from the accident scene in determining fault.
The evidence these experts bring back will come with a conclusion of their findings of either the driver was entirely to blame or partially to blame. And what percentage in their opinion each party is responsible for. All these finds must be backed with substantial evidence that can be used in court in case the insurance provider challenges that their client is not responsible.
If the evidence suggests the driver was responsible for the accident, they will be liable. Your lawyer will be able to prove negligence on the part of the driver and get you the compensation you deserve.
Seeking Damages from the At-Fault Driver
When you are injured in a pedestrian-car accident, your lawyer will help you launch a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. The application must be supported with evidence of the injuries sustained and the damages as a result. The report from the independent investigators, the police, and pictures of the scene, as well as a witness statement, will help support your claim. A doctor’s report must also accompany the application detailing the injuries suffered and the treatment given to you as well as the medication prescribed.
The insurance company often conducts its investigations, and upon studying your claim, they will decide to pay it, decline it or give you a counteroffer. This you can have your lawyer discuss it with them until you agree. If you are unable to agree, the court allows you to file a petition to compel the insurance provider to pay for your damages.
When Both Parties Share Fault
When determining fault, both the driver and the pedestrian can be blamed for the accident. When blame is shared, the degree at which each party is responsible must be determined. California uses the comparative theory law in awarding damages where more than one party is responsible for the accident. For instance, if it is established that the pedestrian was walking on the road instead of the sidewalk, they will be held partly responsible for the accident. For instance, if the pedestrian is found to have shared 20% blame, they will receive 80% in damages while the driver will receive 20%.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Determining fault in a pedestrian-car accident can be challenging, especially when the pedestrian dies or is severely injured. Fault is necessary for helping a victim know who is responsible for the damages suffered. Despite the challenges, an experienced accident attorney can help you by using experts to determine fault and get your rightful compensation. The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has a team of lawyers that are experienced in helping you establish the party responsible for your accident. Call us at 619-625-8707, and let us help you receive the compensation you deserve.