One of the scariest things of a pedestrian accident is how you would manage your injuries and receive the accident’s damages. Every pedestrian deserves to be compensated for the injuries and damages incurred in an accident from the at-fault party.
Unfortunately, most of them are not compensated as they deserve since they are not knowledgeable of the compensation claim process. It is challenging to go through this process alone, especially when dealing with the at-fault insurance company.
However, with a professional attorney's help, you can easily navigate the complex compensation process and have you compensated accordingly. Contact us today at the San Diego Personal Injury Attorney and let us help you get the best compensation as you recover from your injuries.
What you Should Do After a Pedestrian Accident
The decision that you make after a pedestrian accident has a significant effect on your compensation. It is essential to learn what you need to do to avoid doing something that might affect your compensation. Here is a detailed view of what you should do immediately after a pedestrian accident.
Prioritize Your Safety and Health
You might be conscious and even able to stand and move, but this does not mean that you should not seek medical treatment. Accept medical treatment at the scene and make sure that you get help from the nearby hospital immediately if you are not automatically transported to the nearest emergency room.
Your adrenaline can make you feel fine after the collision, but you might have internal injuries that you don’t know. Traumatic brain injury symptoms can manifest hours or days afterward. Therefore, you should seek emergency care and ensure that the doctors thoroughly check you. Having medical evidence is suitable for your compensation claim negotiations and personal injury case.
Gather Contact Information
You should gather information from the driver who hit you if you can. Law enforcement officers will likely take this information, but it is always essential to ask by yourself. You should take the driver's name, phone, email, insurance information, the vehicle's make and model, and license plate information. You should also ask contact information from any occupants in the carp and witnesses who stopped to help. The name, badge, and phone number of police officers who arrived in the accident are also essential for your compensation claim.
Take Photos at the Scene
Use your phone to take photos and video of the accident scene provided you can move. This will help in your insurance claim, settlement, and lawsuit since it guarantees concrete evidence. You can also take photos of the vehicle that hit you, visible injuries on you, and the vehicle's skid marks. Take some pictures of the car to record its make or model. If other cars are involved in the accident, take photos of their collision, and collect all potential evidence. Having additional evidence can help you build a stronger case against the at-fault party.
Record Everything about the Accident
The police will likely record the accident conditions, but you should note as well, in case the law enforcement officer gets it wrong. Take note of the accident's location, time, date, and any road conditions or hazards that might have contributed to the accident. For instance, if the car that hit you was icy out, this can be essential evidence since it suggests that the driver might have traveled too fast for the condition, hence the accident.
Obtain a Police Report
Often, you will have to wait until the law enforcement finishes the final copy of the police report, so it will not be immediately available to you. That's why it is recommendable to gather contact information from the police officer at the accident scene. Ask the officer to give you a hard and soft copy of the report. Police information will help you double-check the details recorded from the accident to determine whether it is right and establish fault during your trial.
File an Insurance Claim
In California, the at-fault party should take the pedestrian's financial liability in an accident. You can use your insurance company to cater to your expenses, but the at-fault's party should reimburse them afterward.
The at-fault driver should file a claim with their insurance carrier, but you should let them know about the accident by filing a claim by yourself. Remember, insurance carriers will do everything to avoid paying a claim, so do not offer too many details about the accident. Only provide necessary information to let the company know about the accident and let your attorney handle further communication with them.
Compensation Claim Settlement Negotiations
Settlement talks with the at-fault insurance company usually kick off once you write a formal demand letter to them and copies of supporting documents. While putting together your demand letter, you must have a well-calculated value of your claim.
Calculating the Value of Your Claim
Learning how to calculate the value of your compensation claim is essential since it helps avoid relying heavily on the insurance adjuster and ensure that you have a precise figure to present to the at-fault party's insurance carrier. There is no unique formula that you can adopt, but you should know that every injury claims have exceptional circumstances.
Insurance companies use the term 'damage' to refer to the losses incurred after an accident. There are two categories of damages in compensation claims. This includes:
- Special Damages: These damages are also referred to as economic damages. They represent the measurable amount of money that is lost due to the at-fault party's negligence. They include things like lost wages and medical bills
- General Damages: These damages are also referred to as non-economic damages. They represent intangible losses endured in an accident and might continue in the future. They include emotion trauma and pain
Calculating your Special Damages
Special damages are calculated by adding together the hard costs of your injuries. This includes and is not limited to:
- Past and future lost wages
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket expenses like transportation fees for your medical appointments, crutches, and medications
- Replacement expenses such as yard work, childcare, and housekeeping, while you were injured
- Damaged or lost personal items
Include the total amount of your medical bills, even if your healthcare plan covered some or all the costs incurred. Some of the medical services that involve several bills include:
- Emergency treatment
- Image tests like CT Scans, MRI, and X-rays
Calculating your General Damages
General damages are difficult to estimate since there is no objective measurement for losses of this nature. Your pain and suffering cannot be the same since two people can be involved in an accident, but you might experience significant pain than the other. One might also be depressed, whereas you are not. Therefore, you should be aware of your extent of suffering to ensure that you receive the right value of your damages. General damages might include the following:
- Loss of consortium
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Persistent sleep loss
- Loss of concentration
High-dollar injury calculation would consider persistent pain or permanent injuries, shocking events, and extreme mental anguish. If you have experienced any of these damages, you might be entitled to higher compensation.
Insurance Companies and their Injury Calculators
It is rare for an insurance company to agree to pay your initial compensation demand. The insurance adjuster will not likely disclose the method used to calculate the general damages, since they are hard to quantify. However, most insurance companies use the multiplier method and the daily rate method.
With the multiplier method, the insurance adjuster will add all your special damages and multiply the total amount with a figure between 1.5 and 5. The highest value is for injury cases that have a tremendous effect on the pedestrian. This method is suitable if the pedestrian sustains short-term injuries.
With the daily rate or per diem method, a dollar figure is assigned to each day until the victim fully recovers or dies if he or she suffers a permanent injury. For instance, if the per diem amount of $100 is selected, the victim takes 100 days to reach maximum medical improvement, the total compensable value would be $10,000. While calculating the total lifetime compensable amount, the insurance adjuster will likely consider your life expectancy and lifestyle to determine how long you may live.
How to Put Together Your Demand Letter
The at-fault insurance company expects that you will send them a demand package or letter. You will be merely demanding compensation for your injuries or some action at the heart of this letter.
Many insurance adjusters will wait until the victim makes a written demand for compensation before negotiating with you. They would let time pass on your claim before they receive a demand letter. You might have periodically reported your treatment to your attorney, but you cannot start your negotiations until you send a written demand.
Involve an attorney in writing the demand letter to ensure that it is impressive and captures everything you want from the target insurance carrier. While writing the letter, ensure that:
- It has the right spelling, especially for people and street names
- You have double-checked your math, and you have entered the correct dollar amount
- Your letter is printed on a cream-colored bond paper
- You use functions to catch spelling and grammar errors
The demand letter should include the following:
- Statement of Facts: This is a complete account of everything that happened at the scene of the accident
- Liability: This is a detailed description of why the motorist is responsible for your injuries
- Injuries: This is a detailed description of the physical injuries, pain, suffering, and emotional distress incurred from the accident. You should also include a description of how the injuries have impacted your life
- Damages: This is a detailed list of the cost of your special and general damages
Please note, the best demand letter should highlight what you think about your case. Therefore, if you intend to use a template, know that finding your voice and style makes the letter appear credible and genuine.
The letter should also include a demand. This means that you must have an exact value of the amount you expect to be compensated, depending on your accident's nature.
How to Settle on a Reasonable Value in Your Compensation Claim Negotiations
Ensure that you have an effective strategy in place once the settlement negotiations start. The following are the several settlement tips that would help you settle on a reasonable value.
Have a Specific Amount to Consider
Have an exact value of what you believe you should be compensated for while putting together a demand letter is to give. Your attorney will help you decide on the most reasonable amount depending on the factors related to your pedestrian accident.
Usually, the at-fault party insurance adjuster will start negotiating a lower figure than your expectations. This means that you must be patient with the negotiation process as new evidence and arguments crop up. Therefore, you may want to revise upward or downwards, depending on the argument presented by the motorist's insurance adjuster.
Avoid Jumping at The First Offer
The insurance adjuster will begin the negotiations with a low amount to determine whether you understand your claim’s value and whether you are patient enough.
Your response should depend on whether it's reasonably low or so low to point out whether you are aware of what you are doing. If the adjuster presents a reasonable offer, you can counteroffer with a little lower amount than the one indicated in your demand letter. This shows that the adjuster that you are reasonable and can compromise as well.
Making a little more bargain can quickly get you to a final and fair settlement. In your negotiations, emphasize the most vital points that favor you rather than all the facts.
Ask the Adjuster to Justify his or her Low Offer
The adjuster's low offer is a negotiation tactic that tries to make you agree to the lowest amount possible. Ask the adjuster why the offer is low, instead of arguing out a higher offer. Write down all the information about your conversation and then write a brief letter responding to every aspect raised by the adjuster. You can respond with a lower value than your demand and see what will result before going lower.
The next time you contact the adjuster, begin by asking for a response to your reply letter. The adjuster will now make a reasonable offer that will lead to a fair final settlement amount.
Emphasize your Emotional Points
You should mention any emotional point that would favor your compensation claim during negotiations. For instance, you can refer to a piece of evidence like a photo of your severe-looking injury. You can also mention that your child suffered from your injuries. This will remind the adjuster that his client is liable for your damages and might make the insurance adjuster settle on a fair amount.
Patiently Wait for a Response
Avoid reducing your demand more than once until the adjuster suggests a new offer. Reducing your demand twice before the adjuster responds with a counteroffer is not a good bargain and would lead to a much lower amount.
The adjuster will probably come up with more reasons for a lower offer, but you should go over each offer. The adjuster will eventually conclude on a reasonable offer when they fail to give valid reasons for the lower offer. Although you should patiently wait for a response, you should put more pressure on the insurance company if it takes too long to settle on a reasonable offer.
Know when it's Best to Engage a Lawyer
If the negotiations are not going as you hoped, consider engaging a personal injury attorney. You should hire an attorney if:
- You expect compensation for severe injuries beyond a few thousand dollars
- You intend to be compensated for your future damages
- It's not easy to decide on who is at fault
Write Down Your Settlement
Once the adjuster has agreed on a number, you should immediately write a letter of confirmation to him or her. Please keep your message short and precise and keep a copy for your own before sending it.
Compensation Claim Trial in Court
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Therefore, you do not expect them to pay out the demand that you make to them. Instead, they would hold onto a significantly lower value and won't budge until you give up your negotiations. Sometimes the insurance company might present a fair settlement, but your attorney might believe that you are entitled to a more considerable compensation than the company would agree to pay. In this case, you and your attorney might decide to take your case to a jury trial to seek higher compensation.
Before you decide on a court trial, evaluate your situation, and confirm whether it's ideal to file a lawsuit against the insurance company and whether there are high chances of achieving your expectations. All the same, your decision to file a lawsuit would help you receive better compensation if you are confident in your preparations.
There is a specific procedure that everyone should follow in every lawsuit until the final ruling. Every case is different, and sometimes it involves slightly different and overlapping steps. Below is a general overview of the pre-trial and trial process.
Filling a Lawsuit
Your attorney will start by drafting a formal complaint that will make your case to the court. The legal complaint will highlight all the procedural requirements related to your claim and a demand for relief. This usually includes the amount of money you believe you are entitled to, and any resolution you expect the court to handle.
Your attorney should ensure that the defendant receives the notice and service process that formally inform them that they are being sued.
Your attorney should learn more about the defendant's story as a formal procedure in a court trial. A reasonable attorney should utilize several tools, resources, and strategies in this step. This include:
- Request to admit
- Request to produce
Your claim will be best served by attorneys who are ready for anything during the trial. Your attorney should tirelessly work to prepare for the trial to present a compelling case to the judge and jury. Throughout this stage, your attorney should:
- Investigate the accident
- Conduct legal research
- Prepare evidentiary exhibits
- Anticipate objections and challenges from the defendant and prepare accordingly
- Search for evidence
Pre-Trial Motions and Proceeding
The pre-trial process involves pre-trial conferences, court appearances, hearing, and other alternative means to resolve your dispute. Your attorney will handle this step on your behalf, but you should guarantee your attendance and participation when needed.
Pedestrian accidents involve juries, similar to other cases that you see on TV. Your attorney will have a chance to talk to potential jurors during the pre-trial process and ask strategic questions to determine who should not be allowed in the jury. Both sides will allow a certain number of jury dismissals, subject to court deadlines. There are also strict legal rules that might disqualify particular people from the jury.
Opening Statements and Presentation of Evidence by Both Sides
The trial process starts with the presentation of an opening statement by both sides. This is a chance to present broad arguments to the jury. Then, each side will present their evidence in turns, calling witnesses, and presenting their exhibits in court. Both sides will also have an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.
Similar to the opening statement, both sides will present a closing statement. This is the last chance to summarize the case and make a persuasive argument to the jury.
Jury Deliberation, Verdict, and Court Order
The judge will instruct the jury about their duties, limitations, and what to consider and avoid. The jury will then proceed to deliberation and carefully reviewing the evidence and try to reach a decision. If the jury intends to decide based on the evidence presented, they will reach a verdict solely on facts, not on personal opinions. The judge will then make a court order based on the jury's verdict. All sides should comply with the court's ruling.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
It's difficult to seek compensation for your injuries and damages alone if you are a pedestrian accident victim. However, hiring an attorney increases the possibility of getting compensated as you deserve while recovering from your injuries. At the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we are dedicated to ensuring that our clients’ rights are upheld and get the best possible compensation. For more information about us, contact us at 619-478-4059 and learn how we can help you.