When a pedestrian is struck by a car, their injuries can be severe or even fatal. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows there were 7,388 pedestrian deaths in 2021, accounting for 17% of all road accident fatalities.
What is a pedestrian accident lawsuit?
When a pedestrian is struck by a car, their injuries can be severe or even fatal. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows there were 7,388 pedestrian deaths in 2021, accounting for 17% of all road accident fatalities. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that 60,577 people were injured in vehicle crashes in the same year.
If a pedestrian sustains injuries after being struck by a car, they should file a claim with their insurance company and possibly the driver's insurers, depending on the damage and the laws of the state. In some cases, the insurance settlement for damages may be insufficient to cover costs associated with the pedestrian's injuries.
For those who do not receive adequate compensation for their financial losses and other damages, filing a lawsuit may be the right step. Because the injuries sustained by a pedestrian are often severe, they may experience a variety of issues, ranging from physical to financial. In a pedestrian accident lawsuit, a plaintiff often seeks to recover damages related to:
- Lost wages.
- Medical bills.
- Physical and emotional anguish.
In the event of a fatality, the deceased's family or spouse may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Regardless of the type of pedestrian accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the driver involved was negligent or reckless and their behavior caused the accident that resulted in injuries. In most instances, pedestrians who partly or solely cause an accident through their negligence have to take responsibility for their injuries. Consulting a personal injury attorney is the best way to understand when and how to file a pedestrian accident lawsuit.
Critical things to understand about pedestrian accidents
Pedestrian accidents happen for a variety of reasons, and drivers and pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings in addition to the following:
Where and when pedestrian accidents occur
The National Safety Council shows that 83% of pedestrian accidents happen in urban areas where traffic is heavy. The number of people walking and driving makes urban accidents involving pedestrians more likely. These accidents are also more frequent on roads where there is no intersection and high-speed traffic, though over 20% occur at intersections. Most pedestrian-related accidents happen after dark, but many occur in areas with artificial lighting. The highest number of incidents involving pedestrians occur on Fridays and Saturdays, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays having the lowest.
Why pedestrian accidents happen
A pedestrian might be struck by a car for several reasons, including:
- Driver negligence: A negligent driver may be speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, disregarding the rules of the road, or driving with distractions, such as using a cellphone.
- Environment: Roads without sidewalks, crosswalks, and adequate signage may cause drivers to collide with pedestrians.
- Pedestrian negligence: A pedestrian may be negligent by failing to follow traffic safety guidelines, being intoxicated, or being unfamiliar with traffic patterns and rules in an area.
- Other circumstances: A pedestrian might be involved in an accident because of poor weather conditions, walking in a congested area with high traffic volumes, or a construction zone that obstructs traffic flow.
Who is at fault in pedestrian accidents?
The party at fault in a pedestrian accident is often the driver of the vehicle. A driver must be aware of their surroundings at all times and drive safely. In some cases, however, a pedestrian may cause the accident. When the at-fault party is the pedestrian, drivers can file a lawsuit against them to recover damages. Either party filing a claim must prove that the defendant behaved negligently.
The impact of pedestrian accidents
The impact of a pedestrian accident is wide, as it can affect more than just those involved. Injuries sustained by a pedestrian in a road accident can be life-changing and, in some cases, fatal. After the accident, there may be an increasing need for medical treatments and medications, which can be costly. This is especially true if the injuries cause chronic or life-long medical issues.
If a pedestrian accident settlement does not cover the costs of a plaintiff's medical bills, lost wages, and other burdens associated with the accident, it can leave them in a difficult place financially and emotionally. Filing a lawsuit may help them receive compensation, but litigation, which ties up Courts, can be complicated and take time. This means the community may have to bear the costs of damage to public property through taxpayer dollars. A person who can no longer work might rely on government assistance, which is another cost that falls on taxpayers.
An accident involving a pedestrian is traumatic for all parties. The emotional distress for the motorist following the collision can create a need for counseling and other medical services. Coupled with medical treatments for the pedestrian, the medical needs of the at-fault party put more strain on medical services.
Adverse events associated with pedestrian accidents
Several adverse events are associated with pedestrian accidents, and some are more severe than others. Here are the most common issues experienced by people after a pedestrian accident:
Head trauma is one of the most common injuries sustained in vehicle-to-pedestrian accidents. This type of injury can lead to brain damage or death. When a car hits a pedestrian, it can suddenly cause the victim's head to jolt. This can lead to a concussion. If their head strikes the ground or another object, they may fracture or damage their skull, resulting in internal bleeding.
Broken bones are also common injuries. The most frequent fractures for pedestrians who were struck by a car are:
- Tibia-fibula fractures.
- Pelvic bone fractures.
- Femur fractures.
- Knee, hip, or ankle bone fractures.
Back and spinal cord damage
A study by the National Institutes of Health found that spinal cord injuries in pedestrian-related car accidents, which can lead to paralysis, were more likely to be associated with internal organ injuries than spinal injuries suffered by those involved in car-on-car accidents. The study also reports that spinal injuries in pedestrian accidents are evenly distributed across the spine, with no one area being more likely to suffer damage than another.
Internal organ injuries
Pedestrians struck with a lot of force may suffer damage to their internal organs. The impact of a crash on the human body can force organs to hit the rib cage or other internal body parts. When these organs shift unexpectedly, they may puncture, break, or bruise. This can lead to many health complications and even death.
A pedestrian's emotional trauma when hit by a vehicle can last for years, causing anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. They may find themselves more agitated or quicker to anger, while others may avoid the location where the incident happened or similar situations that make them uncomfortable.
Following a pedestrian accident: steps to take
During the chaos of a pedestrian accident, it can be difficult to rationally assess the situation, but those involved must protect themselves legally. Taking the right steps can help a pedestrian when making an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit:
- File a police report: Filing an official police report of what happened can add credibility to a pedestrian's case.
- Get contact information: A pedestrian should get the insurance and contact information of the driver involved. This includes their phone number, first and last name, and the name of their insurance company and policy number.
- Gather evidence: Talking to witnesses and photographing and videoing the accident scene helps to document what happened. With a video, it can be more difficult to refute the facts.
- Talk to an attorney: An attorney can review the facts of the case and help the plaintiff file a claim.
- File a claim: Claiming with the insurance company that covers the pedestrian is vital, but the plaintiff may also want to claim with the driver's insurers.
Decisions regarding liability
Although most pedestrian accident cases are caused by negligent drivers, the pedestrian may be at fault if they are found to be negligent. If a pedestrian files a lawsuit, they must have sufficient evidence to prove the driver who hit them was acting without care for their safety. If a case goes to Court, a judge or jury will decide who was at fault and the amount of compensation the plaintiff should be awarded.