If you have been involved in an accident in California, you understand the trauma, confusion, and shock that could result. If you are a pedestrian, this comes together with the fact that you have no protection when a car hits you. Even at low speeds like forty miles per hour, you are at an increased risk of dying or sustaining injuries like organ damage, head injuries, internal bleeding, and multiple fractures if struck by a motor vehicle. In the aftermath of the injuries, it's wise to seek legal assistance to determine the liable party for your injuries. With the help of The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, you can receive full compensation for your injuries.
What are the Most Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries?
A pedestrian can be defined as an individual walking along a road or in a developed area like a neighborhood. Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable road users because they are poorly protected in transit. Although those traveling in cars are still at risk of suffering injuries, crashes involving pedestrians have a higher rate of death and severe injuries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to succumb to a car collision compared to those traveling in vehicles. Approximately four thousand and seven hundred pedestrians die annually. In other words, at least one accident-related pedestrian death happens every 2 hours.
Moreover, pedestrians tend to be at an increased risk of hit-and-run car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accounting for one in five victims. That could delay emergency responders and emergency treatment.
The type of motor vehicle, motorist's speed, and the pedestrian's health and age determine the seriousness of the injuries. The most common injuries include:
Head and Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force causes brain dysfunction. In most cases, TBI is a result of a violent blow to the head. While some TBIs are minor, others could have severe medical repercussions. Common symptoms of traumatic brain injury include:
- Challenges in speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of coordination
- Mood swings
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Spinal cord injuries originate from a sudden, traumatic blow, causing the spine to dislocate or fracture vertebrae. Since a spinal cord transmits signals between the body and brain, damage can lead to death or paralysis. Often the injury is life-altering and requires long-term care.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Tears, dislocations, lacerations, bruises, and sprains are some of the most common soft tissue injuries suffered by pedestrians. Most soft tissue injuries can be resolved using little medical attention. However, they can result in significant pain and can prevent you from working and participating in daily activities for weeks. Also, they can leave you with scarring and other permanent issues that can affect your emotional well-being.
A fracture happens when a physical force that is stronger than a bone is exerted on the bone. Bone fractures can lead to enduring pain and medical issues that could affect your quality of life and well-being.
An amputation is the loss of a body part, such as an appendage, limb, arm, hand, or leg. Medical experts use advanced medical procedures like nerve regeneration and prosthetic device technology. These procedures re-attach appendages and limbs and save seriously injured body parts. Prosthetic devices mimic the range of motion of limbs, allowing you to live a normal functional life without adding stress to the non-affected parts.
Despite medical advancements, you might face physical and psychological challenges. Many amputees experience phantom limb pain or sensation that is psychologically hard to overcome.
Not all pedestrian accident injuries are physical. If you do not suffer a bodily injury, you could suffer enduring psychological trauma.
Pedestrians are at a higher risk of death. It can be due to either the lack of protection or the vehicles' sizes.
Another common type of injury you can suffer is internal bleeding. It can manifest as symptoms like challenges in breathing, nausea, and abdominal pain. Make sure your dentist checks for internal bleeding.; if left untreated, the condition can be fatal.
What Causes Pedestrian Car Accident injuries?
Understanding the various causes of a pedestrian accident not only reduces and prevents the number of injuries but also helps victims identify the at-fault party. Common causes of pedestrian accident injuries include the following:
- Distracted driving - A pedestrian accident can happen when the motorist isn't focusing on the road. Distracted driving can take place when the motorist is texting, sending an email, talking on a phone, adjusting an air conditioner or radio, tending to a child, or manipulating a navigation system. When a motorist takes their focus off the road for a second, pedestrians are endangered.
- Drunk driving- A drunk driver is less likely to see the pedestrian or even respond promptly if a pedestrian is on the way.
- Speeding- When a motor vehicle is speeding, chances are the driver will not have time to respond appropriately to an upcoming pedestrian. Moreover, speeding increases the severity of the injuries.
- Bad weather - A slippery road can make it hard for a driver to stop in time and allow a pedestrian to pass. On the other hand, dangerous walking conditions can make a pedestrian fall into the path of an unsuspecting driver. While ice can make motor vehicles jump the curb, rainwater could make motor vehicles to hydroplane into crosswalks.
- Road construction - You might know about the inconveniences caused by road construction. What you might not know is that road construction could force you to walk in regions where motorists don't expect you to be.
- Left turn - The fact that a crosswalk has signals does not mean motorists will focus on the signals. Pedestrian accident injuries occur because both the motorist and the pedestrian have the signals. In other words, the pedestrian sees the walk signal while the turning vehicle has a green light. Therefore, the pedestrian walks into the crosswalk, and the motorist makes or continues to turn left.
- Unmarked crosswalks - Most pedestrian accidents occur at intersections. With the help of marked crosswalks, these accidents are significantly reduced. Nevertheless, not all intersections have a marked crosswalk, making it difficult for both the motorist and pedestrian to tell when they can or cannot cross.
- Pedestrian negligence - On top of errors motorists make, a pedestrian mistake can increase the risk of an accident. Common mistakes include failing to use designated pedestrian areas or sidewalks, using a phone, or darting into traffic.
It is worth noting that not every pedestrian accident is caused by a motor vehicle. You could also suffer injuries after being knocked down by:
- Joggers or runners in the sidewalk
- Distracted pedestrians
- An uncontrolled or unleashed dog
- Biking on the footpath
- A passenger opening a door of a parked motor vehicle.
- A Fight on the footpath
- Crowded street festivals or fairs
- Children running to a restaurant or store
To prove negligence in your pedestrian accident, you need to establish somebody else who was negligent or careless caused your injury or broke pedestrian and crosswalk law. It requires you to prove that:
- The responsible party owed you a duty of care.
- The at-fault party broke the duty of care by acting negligently.
- The defendant's negligence caused your injuries.
Liable parties could include the following:
A Runner on the Footpath
Although most runners who exercise on sidewalks are considerate, some are reckless and knock over pedestrians. Should a jogger cause your injuries, you are entitled to receive compensation for the injuries.
Uncontrolled Dog Owner
Huge dogs could jump on children and knock them over. A dog on the loose can also chase a pedestrian, causing them to fall and sustain injuries. Although the dog caused your injuries, the dog owner is responsible for the dog's conduct.
Should a dog knock over or attack you, you should prove the dog owner was negligent. It entails proving:
- The owner was aware or ought to have been aware that their pet might be a risk to people.
- The owner did not take practical steps to stop the harm.
Nevertheless, if the owner is breaking a local or state statute, any injuries caused by their pet could make the dog owner accountable under negligence per se.
Bikers on the Sidewalk
Bicyclists on the sidewalk can also be held accountable for pedestrian accident injuries. Usually, biking on sidewalks varies with different cities. While cycling on the footway is legal in some parts of California, it is an offense in other California cities. Nevertheless, if a bicyclist is careless in causing the accident, the rider could be accountable for all injuries sustained, notwithstanding it is lawful to ride on the walkway.
For instance, per Los Angeles Municipal Code 56.15, cycling in the footpath is lawful, provided it isn't executed with a wanton or willful disregard for property or persons' safety. Should a rider hit you, you can recover compensation by proving:
- The defendant was negligent/careless in causing your accident, including riding very fast.
- If the rider was riding with a wanton or willful disregard for safety like trying to jump over your feet, the rider could be negligent per se.
In cities where cycling on the footway is an offense, the cyclist is considered negligence per se.
Negligence per se is a doctrine that uses regulations and laws to prove another person's negligence. Since negligence makes an individual accountable for an accident, establishing a statute or rule was broken is robust liability evidence.
Group of Persons Who Would Not Share the Walkway
There are no specific laws regarding the right of way on the sidewalk in California. However, people should be courteous to allow pedestrians to cross. Sometimes, people acting tough or an obnoxious group of people might not permit you to pass.
Should this group knock you down, it could be held responsible for your injuries. However, it is up to the judge to determine fault.
Truck or Bus Driver Driving Near the Sidewalk
Trucks and buses have side mirrors that extend beyond the vehicle's edge. A side mirror could be a hazard for a person standing at the sidewalk's edge when a motor vehicle pulls up to a bus stop.
Bus and truck drivers are skilled and know where the side mirrors extend. In case the driver isn't attentive or carelessly causes you to be knocked down by the mirror, you can bring a claim for compensation against them.
If an employee causes your accident, you can take legal action against the employer. Per Respondeat Superior law, a company could be held responsible for its employees' negligence.
Who is Held Accountable If You Tripped on a Sidewalk?
When you trip and fall on an icy surface, a cracked sidewalk or another hazardous area, the property owner could be accountable for the injuries. Per premises liability laws, property owners should keep their assets in safe conditions.
To prove premises liability, you should prove:
- The liable party occupied, controlled, or owned the property.
- The liable party was neglectful in the maintenance or use of the asset.
- You were injured as a result.
- The negligence was a significant cause of your pedestrian accident injury.
If the footpath is on city property, the city could be held responsible. The county, city, or town may have been aware of the hazardous condition and failed to correct it. The town could have even been aware of previous accidents that injured other residents.
What Happens if Another Person Blames You for Your Pedestrian Accident Injuries?
A driver may blame you for the injuries. The driver could claim that because you weren't in the crosswalk, it was your fault that you got injured. Nevertheless, just because you weren't in the crosswalk does not mean the motorist is not negligent. All road users, including cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians, have a responsibility to use due care for their safety.
If the motorist blames you for the accident, don't admit fault. Liability is not always clear, particularly if you do not know what took place. Admitting fault might result in you footing your medical expenses and compensating for the motorist's damages.
According to comparative negligence law, you can still be awarded compensation if you're partly responsible for your injuries. If multiple parties share the accident's fault, the judge will apportion liability and damages. That means the percentage of your responsibility will reduce your damages.
Steps to Take After Sustaining Pedestrian Accident Injuries
As a pedestrian accident victim, it is vital to take the following steps. It will not only preserve essential evidence but also help you in winning your personal injury claim.
Seek Medical Care
If you have been injured while walking, seeking medical care is one of the essential steps to take. If you have been hurt, call 911 or request another person to call on your behalf.
Don't assume you are okay, even if no trauma manifests. Even a low impact fall could lead to back, head, or neck trauma. Also, spinal cord injury and TBI could worsen if you fail to see a medical expert immediately.
Collect the Motorist's Details
Remember, to take the motorist's details such as their name, phone number, license plate, insurance number, and address. If possible, collect the contact details of all witnesses. The details will assist in making your claim.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Capturing images of the scene of your accident, damage, and your injuries will assist document evidence. Moreover, the images will assist the jury in determining the responsible person as well as make an informed decision.
Pedestrian Accident Injury Settlement
After your pedestrian accident, you could be wondering what is the average settlement for your case. Well, there is no average settlement amount.
Settlements are confidential. Moreover, the available damages after an accident depend on:
- The level of injuries sustained
- Whether the victim has succumbed to the accident or not
Therefore, the best way is to pay attention to the factors put into account when calculating the total settlement amount.
Usually, plaintiffs take legal action for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are designed to make you whole. In other words, the settlement ought to put you in the position you could be in had the accident not taken place.
These factors include:
One of the factors looked at is the amount of money incurred as medical costs. Minor injuries such as strains and sprains will need a few thousand dollars in medication, while severe injuries like burns or TBI will cost you more.
It's easy to tell the total medical expenses. Be sure to find all receipts and bills and add up the amounts. You can also get compensation for prescription drugs, transportation to doctor's office or hospital, supportive devices like wheelchairs and crutches, and rehabilitation.
If your pedestrian accident injury is causing you to miss work, you could be entitled to receive the income you could have made had you not been involved in the accident. Look at the payslip and calculate your income.
You can also receive lost income damages if you're self-employed as long as you can prove what you could have earned. For instance, if the injury caused you to cancel a contract, then you could be compensated for the contract's value.
Pain and Suffering
Settlement negotiations also include intangible losses like pain and suffering. While pain and suffering damage is difficult to equate in dollar value, this damage is real. Most plaintiffs report a significant reduction in the quality of life.
Typically, the amount awarded depends on the degree of physical injury. A sprain which results in discomfort won't earn you a considerable amount in damages compared to a permanent, life-altering injury like paralysis.
Loss of Consortium
This damage allows your spouse or domestic partner to recover the loss of support, companionship, and intimacy between you.
Wrongful Death in a Pedestrian Accident
As previously discussed, death is one of the pedestrian injuries. The deceased victim cannot bring a lawsuit, but their family members can bring a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim allows you to seek compensation after your loved one's death. You can recover:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of support and companionship
- The amount of income the decedent would have made if they had survived
Only specific individuals can bring a wrongful death claim in California. They include:
- The decedent's spouse
- The decedent's children
- The decedent's domestic partner
- The decedent's grandchildren in the event the victim's children are deceased
- Any other person who could be entitled to the deceased's property under intestate succession laws
Although rare in California personal injury lawsuits, you can receive punitive damages. To receive punitive damages, you have to prove that the at-fault party acted outrageously. A perfect example could be a motorist intentionally attempting to hit you.
Statute of Limitations
Under the California Code of Civil procedure 335.1, you have two years to file your personal injury claim. It applies to all cases where pedestrian accident death or injury is due to wrongful conduct or negligence of another person. If you sustained injuries, the clock starts running on the accident's date. A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, should be brought within two years from the date of your loved one's death.
Two years might seem a long time, but several things should be done before filing the suit. You should gather evidence, contact witnesses, gather medical records, and negotiate with the insurer. It might take longer than anticipated. Therefore, you need to get started with the process immediately after the accident.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
To successfully file a pedestrian accident injuries lawsuit, you should establish that another person or entity was negligent. You should also show the level of damages like medical expenses, projected future medical bills, lost income, and emotional distress. The legal team at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can be your best resource. We can make sure that all technical requirements are satisfied, interview witnesses, work with expert witnesses, and negotiate with the defendant's insurance provider. Call us today at 619-625-8707 to schedule your initial consultation.