A pedestrian who has been involved in an accident and survived could sustain serious injuries that can also affect their mental and psychological health. You may end up with conditions that require long-term medical treatment, such as regular physical and occupational therapy. Unlike motorists, pedestrians have no protection when on the road. For this reason, the law is strict when it comes to protecting the rights of pedestrians.
You deserve compensation for the injuries suffered. Some of the damages you deserve include medical bills, pain and suffering, and funeral expenses if the deceased was your loved one. If you have been involved in an accident, you need an attorney who can skillfully represent you. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we will help file the claim and vigorously fight for the compensation you deserve.
Laws Protecting Pedestrians
California is strict when it comes to protecting the rights and lives of pedestrians. According to California Vehicular Code Section 467, a pedestrian is:
- Someone who is walking.
- Someone who is using a means propelled by their efforts.
- Anyone using an assistive means of transport, such as a wheelchair.
The law also provides instructions to drivers when operating motor vehicles in an area used by pedestrians. Section 29150 of the vehicle code states that drivers should give the right-of-way at any crosswalk, including an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Some of the rights of way laws include:
- A motorist is supposed to yield the right of way even if you do not follow the traffic laws correctly.
- A motorist should only drive through a sidewalk when it's necessary to cross the street.
- A driver should stop 5 feet from the crosswalk to allow you to cross the road.
- When approaching an intersection, a motorist should always slow down.
- Even in an unmarked crosswalk, you have the right of way, just like in a marked crosswalk.
- The driver should not drive on safe zones, which are marked as sidewalks.
Parties that Could be Held Liable After an Accident
Various parties could be held liable and compensate you for the injuries in an accident. The responsible parties include:
Sometimes a driver may not be careful when driving. He/she may be texting or drinking and ignore the road leading to an accident. In such a situation, he/she will compensate you for your injuries.
When a company-owned car causes an accident, the company is liable and will compensate you for the injuries. The reason behind this is a company is supposed to maintain a vehicle and hire responsible drivers properly.
If a car that belongs to a government agency such as a police vehicle hits you, the government should compensate you. If the roads’ poor state or improper signage contributed to the accident, the government should compensate you since it's responsible for that.
Vehicle and Auto Part Manufacturers
Sometimes the fault of the accident could be defective parts inside the vehicle. In such a case, the manufacturer is liable.
An Insurance Company’s Role When Recovering Compensation
When a motorist is involved in an accident, he/she is required to report the accident to the insurance company. The driver should also file a report in case a passenger or pedestrian was involved in the accident. California law requires every motorist to have injury insurance of not less than $15,000 and property damage insurance of $5,000.
When seeking medical attention immediately after an accident, the insurance company will know that you were injured and deserve compensation. However, if you fail to do that, they will assume you were not injured. Compensation is usually awarded for an injury suffered and the costs incurred as a result of the damages.
If you fail to take a medical checkup or the injuries did not require any treatment, then you don't legally have a claim. A medical checkup gives you the right to claim damages from the vehicle’s insurance company, mostly when your health insurance doesn't cover all the costs.
Once a driver has filed a report, an insurance adjuster can try to reach out to you to either check up on you or to hear the version of events. Keep in mind that they are not doing this out of the goodness of their heart. All they want is for you to accidentally say something that would take away liability from the driver. For this reason, you should not answer or respond to their calls or questions. In case they push a bit harder, refer them to your attorney.
Sometimes, an accident may not be caused by a vehicle or any other means of transport but due to the sidewalk's unstable surface. In such a situation, you still deserve compensation, but that will come from the property owner. The owner of the property is liable for the damages according to the premises liability laws of California. When seeking compensation, you must show that the following facts exist:
- The owner of the property failed to maintain the property properly.
- The person being sued is indeed the owner of the property.
- Because of the negligence of the owner, you were injured.
- The owner's negligence was the major contributor to your injury.
Types of Compensation You Could Recover in a Pedestrian Accident
Compensatory damages are two: economic and non-economic ones. Economic damages are those that are meant to compensate you for the measurable losses. They are calculated from the medical bills, receipts from the destroyed property, ambulance fee, therapy, and counseling bills. Some of the economic damages include:
The medical and hospital bills of some accidents can be too high for you to handle even on your own, which is why you should not be left to cater to medical bills that were brought as a result of a motorist’s negligence.
Though you may physically recover from an accident, your mental health may be deeply affected. You may need a therapist to help you cope with the trauma. Though it is essential to have a professional's help, it can be quite expensive to pay for one.
Lost Earning Capacity
If you had a job or were a productive member of the community, but due to the accident, you are unable to work, you deserve compensation.
An accident can interrupt your normal flow of life, including your job. If you cannot be productive during your recovery period, you deserve to pay for the lost time.
You deserve compensation for any property destroyed during the accident.
Some accidents may leave you with some deformities, which may require you to undergo physical and occupational therapy from time to time. All the costs involved in occupational therapy are subject to compensation.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages are hard to calculate since they don’t have documentation to prove. Some of the non-economic damages include:
Pain and Suffering
An accident can leave you with serious injuries and pain, which may last for a long time. You deserve to be compensated for that.
Loss of Consortium
If the accident left you unable to meet your partner’s needs, such as sexual, companionship, intimacy, or moral support, your partner is entitled to damages. A jury will determine a reasonable amount that your partner should receive for the loss.
You have a right to seek compensation even for a lost limb, even though the compensation may not bring it back.
You deserve compensation for all the mixed feelings you experience after an accident. Some of the emotions are fear, anxiety, or depression after an accident.
In an unfortunate event, a pedestrian may lose his/her life when involved in an accident. Apart from the deceased enduring pain and suffering before passing, the surviving family is left to deal with various bills resulting from the wrongful death. The grieving process becomes much more challenging and painful when the deceased was the sole provider. As a close family member, you can file for the wrongful death. Some of the damages that you are entitled to receive include:
- Burial Expenses.
- Medical expenses the deceased used before the untimely death.
- Funeral expenses.
- The lost income.
- Lost Moral support, companionship, and love.
- Household services and other privileges.
The compensation is not to bring the loved one back to life but to make it easier for the grieving family to move forward.
Evidence to Prove You Deserve Compensation
Once you have been involved in an accident that leaves you with injuries, it is important to keep your mind on the ultimate goal of receiving compensation. Collecting enough pieces of evidence will help your case and ultimately receive compensation. The evidence includes:
Photos can significantly help your case because they paint a mental picture of the events of the accidents. Ensure you take pictures of the accident scene, damage to the vehicle, your injuries, and the skid marks on the road.
A police report convinces the insurance adjuster that the driver is indeed at fault. The police officer who wrote the report could also be a key witness for the case, which could greatly help with the compensation. A police report also contains the contact information of all the witnesses of the accident.
Don’t throw away or wash the clothes you were wearing during the accidents. Bloodied clothes can be part of dramatic evidence in court.
Witness statements can help corroborate your statements about the negligence of the driver. Ensure you write down their contact information to make work easier for you if you'd want to reach them later.
Expert testimonies are great for your case both at trial and receiving compensation for the injuries. Some of the experts you may need for your case include an accident reconstruction expert, medical expert, and other relevant experts. An accident reconstruction expert helps paint a clear picture of how the accident occurred and who might be at fault, especially in an accident involving multiple vehicles.
On the other hand, a medical expert can help give a clear report on your injuries, current and future treatment options, and other relevant information. The medical expert can also help determine the amount of compensation you need depending on the injuries.
Your medical bills are also an essential part of the evidence that could help your claim. Ensure you keep all the receipts for all the expenses incurred from the accident, including medicines and assistive tools.
Paycheck and the Tax Returns
If you can show your lowest wages in court by providing your paycheck and the tax returns, then that could help your case. Your employer could also offer statements showing all the financial losses you have suffered due to the accident.
Your copy of the insurance policy and that of the driver involved will help determine the amount of compensation and help you settle. All motorists must have third party insurance, which protects a third party(you) from the motorist’s actions. If you are injured, you can file a claim with the driver’s third-party insurer to receive damages.
Process of Obtaining Compensation
Some pedestrians' compensation is sought directly from the at-fault party, especially if they do not have insurance. Your attorney will ask for compensation from the motorist, and if they refuse an out-of-court settlement, the case will proceed to court. If a vehicle is involved, the fault must be established first.
Your lawyer can show that the driver is fully liable then files a claim to the driver's insurance company. The request should also be accompanied by a report of the damages and supporting evidence of the accident you seek compensation. Some of the evidence that your lawyer can provide includes the hospital report; the injuries suffered and the cost of the treatment,
Once the insurance company receives the report and the claim, they will thoroughly go through it then carry out an independent investigation. Upon completing the investigation, the insurance firm may choose to offer a counteroffer or decline to compensate you. In such a case, your attorney can file a petition to compel your insurer to compensate you.
Here is the process of filing an insurance claim:
Talk with a Personal Injury Attorney
The first step to filing an insurance claim is talking with a personal injury attorney. Ensure you do this immediately after seeking medical treatment. A personal injury attorney will note every detail possible that could help with the claim. Once the attorney has reviewed your case, he/she will decide to represent you.
Your attorney will then send a notification later to the insurance company informing them of your plan to make a claim. A notification letter is a notice given to a fault party informing them that their actions have injured you, and you would like some compensation. The insurance company, in return, will send a reservation of rights letter. The letter informs you that they don't deny your claim, but it may not be covered under the insurance policy. The letter also tells you that they are investigating the accident, and they can deny liability after the completion of the investigation.
Your attorney will then start investigating the accident and collecting relevant information about the case. The attorney will go through your medical records, the accident report, video, and photographic evidence. Once the attorney has all the information, he/she will have a mental picture of what exactly happened, who is at fault, and the possible damages you deserve.
Sending the Demand Letter
Once you have recovered or reached your maximum medical improvement (MMI) level, the attorney will send the demand letter. A demand letter tells the insurance company that you would like compensation for the injuries suffered. It details all the expenses used, facts of the case, and the damages you incurred.
Once the insurance company receives the demand letter, they may decide to deny or reject the settlement amount. It is quite rare for an insurance company to accept and pay your first offer. Usually, there are months of negotiations before both parties finally come to an agreement.
When the insurance company receives the demand letter, they will respond with a counteroffer. Your attorney may accept or reject the offer by sending another offer, and the back and forth will continue until finally, they both agree.
As the negotiations continue, your attorney will confer with you at each step until both parties have agreed on the final amount.
How Your Attorney Can Help You Recover Compensation
Your attorney will be of great help in case the insurance company refuses to settle. When an insurance firm refuses to accept and settle the offer, you should file a lawsuit called the personal injury lawsuit. However, before filing a personal injury lawsuit, ensure you are within the statute of limitations.
Here are all the steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit:
File Court Papers
The first step in a personal injury lawsuit is filing a complaint. The complaint shows the court that you intend to recover compensation from a fault party. Your attorney should write a compelling argument showing why you need the compensation. This argument should be based on the facts of your case.
Once the complaint has been filed, the defendant (fault party) should respond immediately, or the court will favor you in the judgment. If the defendant responds on time, the case will proceed to the discovery stage.
Discovery involves exchanges of information and evidence between the parties. Discovery also allows the questioning of witnesses through a process called depositions. A deposition is essential, especially in collecting compelling evidence.
Negotiating the Settlement
After discovery, the other party may be compelled to settle, especially when the evidence is against them. If they agree with your initial offer or a new offer, you can accept it and drop the lawsuit. But, if there is no agreement, the case will proceed to trial.
If the defendant refused to negotiate or agree to a settlement, the case would proceed to trial. Your attorney will start with opening statements. He/she will then present evidence and witness testimony before a judge or jury. The defendant's attorney will cross-examine the witness attempting to catch him/her in a lie.
The attorney could also present his/her evidence in support of their arguments. Once both sides have had the opportunity to argue their cases, the attorney will give their closing arguments. The judge will then advise the jury on what to do before releasing them to deliberate.
After deliberation, the jury will unanimously reach a verdict, which they will submit before the court. If they find the defendant guilty, they will have to compensate you for the losses.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, you need to be careful when seeking compensation for your injuries. Before anything else, you should alert the police for help. Going for a medical checkup is essential to ensure you don't have severe internal injuries that could risk your life. Also, a medical checkup will help you file a claim with the insurance company. You deserve both economic and non-economic compensation for the injuries suffered.
It would be best if you had an attorney who can diligently represent your pedestrian accident case. Our attorneys at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm are the right fit for your case. We are experienced in helping pedestrians involved in an accident to recover compensations for their injuries. If you need to talk to us, you can easily reach us at 619-478-4059.