Pedestrian Accidents: Fault, Compensation, and Legal Considerations
Last updated Thursday, November 16th, 2023
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Pedestrian Accident
Man and machine can overcome all odds. But when it comes to man vs. machine, the odds may be against you, especially when a 4,000-pound car crashes into you. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable people in vehicle accident-prone areas. They don’t have the protection of a durable vehicle, airbags, and seatbelts. They neither have enough time to react to a high-speed vehicle coming at them. Even a low-speed crash can send them straight to the ER.
Car accidents lead to nearly 7,500 pedestrian fatalities every year. They account for almost 17 percent of deaths caused by vehicular accidents.
Pedestrians face a significantly higher risk of life-threatening injuries and permanent disabilities. Many victims end up with traumatic brain injuries, multiple fractures, nerve damage, organ failure, and other serious conditions.
The physical injuries are accompanied by the psychological trauma of never being able to live the same way again.
The road to recovery is long, and your financial resources may not be enough to support you through it. You may lose your job, and your home, and be unable to look after your family.
Do you see how quickly a pedestrian accident can turn into a lifelong tragedy?
But we won’t let that happen! Our skilled pedestrian accident lawyers will help you take legal action to get fairly compensated for your injuries. You may be a victim of negligence, but it’s important that you don’t neglect your legal rights and take action early. We’ll help you secure a settlement that supports your recovery and helps you reclaim your quality of life.
Understanding the Duty of Care
Before we jump into the matter of legal rights, it’s important for you to know about the responsibilities you must fulfill, whether you’re a driver or pedestrian. Only those who fulfill their responsibilities will be able to uphold their rights. The streets are a shared space where both drivers and pedestrians owe a duty of care to each other.
If you were injured as a pedestrian completely due to another driver’s negligence, you have nothing to worry about. Your pedestrian accident lawyer knows what it takes to systematically investigate the case and recover the evidence needed to back up your claim.
Shared Fault in Pedestrian-Car Accidents
Conclusively proving negligence is the only way to get your settlement. If the driver was 100 percent at fault for the accident, then they will be fully liable for your losses.
But what happens if you were partly responsible for the accident too? Georgia abides by a modified comparative negligence standard for evaluating personal injury settlements.
Basically, your share of compensation is tied to your share of fault for the accident. Let’s say both the driver and pedestrian were distracted by their phones when the accident happened.
The insurer or court will study the evidence provided by all parties involved in the case to determine each one’s percentage of fault. If the pedestrian shares 20 percent of the fault for the accident, their settlement account will be lowered by 20 percent. So if they were supposed to get $100,000, they would only get $80,000.
However, you cannot qualify for compensation if you share more than 50 percent of the fault for the accident.
Here are a few situations where pedestrians may be at fault:
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Disobeying traffic signals
- Negligently hanging around in a roadway
- Stepping out in poor visibility conditions
- Walking in an impaired or intoxicated state
- Recklessly obstructing traffic
State-Specific Rules on Shared Fault
There’s no national standard on shared fault for personal injury settlements. Don’t get too caught up planning your case strategy yet.
One of the first things you should find out is what rules your state follows when it comes to shared fault. It will help you figure out whether you qualify for a claim and estimate how much you may be entitled to.
Determining Fault: Duty of Care and Negligence
Insurers and courts don’t look at negligence as a matter of opinion shared by any parties involved in the accident.
There are several elements you have to systematically establish to prove negligence such as:
- The party owed you a duty of care where the accident occurred
- They intentionally or unintentionally breached this duty of care
- Their neglectful actions were the proximate cause of the accident
- This accident due to negligence caused your injuries and damages
You only qualify to seek compensation from them if you can fulfill these criteria. Drivers must follow all the federal and state road safety rules. A couple of seconds of texting while driving is enough to cause a fatal pedestrian accident. Drivers must pay attention to the road, other drivers, pedestrians, and the road conditions at all times.
But many pedestrians forget their actions can make them liable for the accident too. A driver’s negligence won’t cost them their life, but your negligence as a pedestrian could cost you dearly.
So here are some essential rules you must follow as a pedestrian to avoid liability in an accident:
- Following traffic signals properly
- Using designated crosswalks
- Staying aware of your surroundings
- Yielding the right of way
- Walk in the direction of oncoming traffic to easily spot approaching vehicles
- Avoid walking on the streets in an impaired or intoxicated state
- Watch out for pedestrians with disabilities and support them if necessary
- Teach your children about simple pedestrian safety rules
Ultimately, the credibility of your evidence will determine your settlement. A skilled lawyer knows how to gather the most relevant evidence from a variety of sources to build your claim.
Here are some pieces of evidence that will help you build your pedestrian accident case:
- Surveillance footage of the accident
- Visual evidence of the accident site and your injuries
- Police accident report
- Accident reconstruction expert report
- Eyewitness testimony
- Medical bills
- Auto body shop report
Contributory Negligence and Comparative Negligence
Each state follows a different system of fault.
There are four main standards for dealing with fault in personal injury cases:
- Pure contributory negligence – You can’t collect any compensation if you share any fault for the accident.
- Pure comparative negligence – Your damages are lowered in proportion to your percentage of fault.
- Modified comparative fault (50 percent) – You only qualify for damages if you share less than 50 percent of the fault for the accident. And your settlement is reduced according to your percentage of fault.
- Modified comparative fault (51 percent) – You can seek compensation only if you share less than 51 percent of the fault. And your settlement is lowered based on your percentage of fault.
Here are the states that follow the pure contributory negligence standard:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
Here are the states that follow the pure comparative negligence standard:
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Here are the states that follow the modified comparative fault (50 percent) negligence standard:
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Here are the states that follow the modified comparative fault (51 percent) negligence standard:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
Pursuing Claims for Damages
Expecting compensation without providing a clear trail of documented expenses is never going to work out. Insurers and courts will scrutinize every bill you provide and cross-check whether it’s frivolous or actually tied to your recovery. Pedestrians are entitled to the same types of compensation available to injured drivers and passengers involved in the accident.
Here are the types of compensation you can seek through your claim:
- Past and projected medical bills
- Rehab costs
- Lost income
- Lost earning potential
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Punitive damages
These cases are highly time-sensitive and require in-depth knowledge of federal and state laws concerning pedestrian accidents. You could blow your chance at a settlement if you fail to gather essential evidence, get medically treated, file a claim, and provide necessary legal documentation on time.
Fault and State Rules: The Recovery Process
Nearly 87 percent of drivers in America own some form of auto insurance. But it’s important to know what kind of coverage you have and how do your state laws impact your insurance when you get into an accident.
Here are the main types of insurance systems involved in a personal injury claim settlement:
- Fault-based insurance system – Any party that can prove the other party caused the accident and their injuries can receive compensation from them. Drivers in states following fault-based insurance systems can buy liability insurance to save themselves from paying damages for an accident caused by them.
- No-fault insurance systems – States following this system ask all parties to first turn to their own insurance coverage in case of an accident. But what if your coverage fails to support your recovery? You can file a lawsuit to recover damages for severe injuries if you meet certain conditions. However, states with a pure no-fault insurance system prevent you from filing lawsuits too.
Statute of Limitations in Pedestrian-Car Accident Cases
Delaying legal action is denying yourself justice.
Personal injury claims and lawsuits have well-established legal timeframes.
You need to file within a legal deadline known as the statute of limitations. It varies from state to state. For instance, the statute of limitations in Georgia for personal injury cases is two years. So if you don’t file a claim or lawsuit within two years of the date of your accident, you forfeit your rights to seek compensation.
The Role of Attorneys in Complex Cases
A skilled pedestrian accident lawyer can get you a settlement three times bigger than what you’d be offered without any legal representation.
So if you’re thinking you’re saving money by personally spending more time and energy on your case, you’re missing the mark. You need a compassionate, sharp, and detail-oriented lawyer to save you time, money, and energy.
Here’s how our impactful team of Georgia pedestrian accident can help you:
- Giving you a free case evaluation to give you more clarity about the next steps
- Assessing the right value of your claim to cover your short-term and long-term needs
- Leading a thorough investigation to gather evidence from all credible sources
- Using a network of expert witnesses to back up your claim
- Filing your claim
- Negotiating with insurers and lawyers to maximize your settlement
- Filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial if negotiations don’t work out