Every 88 minutes, another American pedestrian is hit by a vehicle. Annually, around 6,000 pedestrians die as a result of vehicle-pedestrian accidents.
Despite the frequency and seriousness of such accidents, many victims make the mistake of assuming that they do not need legal help handling the aftermath. This is a costly error.
Keep reading now to learn who needs a pedestrian accident attorney and when to hire one.
Who Qualifies as a Pedestrian?
The exact definition of a pedestrian can vary among different states and municipalities. Anyone traveling on foot qualifies as a pedestrian in every case.
Individuals using bicycles, certain powered wheelchairs, scooters, or other motorized devices often count as pedestrians, as well. In some jurisdictions, however, they may fall in a separate legal category from those traveling by foot.
These distinctions are the first reason that anyone injured by a vehicle needs to contact a pedestrian accident lawyer. Attorneys understand these and other legal distinctions and can assist victims in navigating the system to get the compensation they deserve.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Vehicle-pedestrian accidents happen for many reasons. Common causes include:
- Driver distraction or intoxication
- Poor visibility due to darkness or bad weather
- Bad roadway or crosswalk design
- Speeding and other unsafe driving practices
- Jaywalking and other unsafe actions by pedestrians
Some of these causes, such as distracted driving or jaywalking, are tied to legal concepts of fault. Fault is linked to compensation.
This means that drivers who are at-fault for an accident may owe more to victims than those who were not. At-fault pedestrians, on the other hand, may be eligible for less compensation than those who are not at fault.
This is the second critical reason why every pedestrian involved in an accident needs a personal injury lawyer. Attorneys specializing in pedestrian accident cases can:
- Prevent insurance companies from inappropriately blaming victims for accidents
- Prove drivers were at fault when necessary
- Help victims get the compensation they need even if they were partially at fault
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable parties traveling America’s roadways. They do not have the protections built into vehicles, such as airbags, or anything else to cushion them from injury when impact occurs. This means that even being hit by vehicles traveling at very low speeds, such as 10 mph, can cause traumatic injuries.
Injuries common among victims of a cross walk accident or other pedestrian accident include:
- Bruises and contusions
- Broken limbs and joints
- Concussions and other head or brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal injuries
- Damage to teeth and eyes
- Stress and anxiety disorders
These conditions often lead to other serious consequences, such as:
- Missed work
- Lost wages
- High medical bills
- Long-term therapy or ongoing medical care
These serious injuries and their far-reaching consequences are the third reason that every accident victim needs an attorney. It is impossible to effectively advocate for oneself while unconscious or suffering from a severe injury such as those likely to result from an accident. Attorneys can protect their clients, giving victims the ability to focus on their recovery.
The Post-Accident Process
Many victims assume that the post-accident process is a simple affair. In their minds, they were wronged and all drivers should have insurance. Thus, they should be able to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company, have their expenses paid, and be done.
In reality, however, nothing about the post-accident process is simple or direct.
- Some at-fault drivers do not carry insurance or do not carry enough insurance to cover victims’ injuries
- Drivers’ insurance companies will attempt to settle with victims for far less than they need or deserve
- Victims’ own insurance may need to foot some of the medical bills
- Coverage from victims’ own insurance may bounce between policies (e.g. homeowners, health, and car insurance policies) making it difficult to track and to get bills paid
- Victims may be eligible for coverage under a relative’s insurance if they live in the same home
- Insurance companies may investigate accidents and entrap victims into making statements or agreeing to terms that are not in their best interest
To make matters worse, this messy process often happens at the same time that victims are:
- Incapacitated or hospitalized
- Confused or in pain
- Juggling stressful work, life, and health demands
- Without income due to lost work time and wages
This is the fourth reason why every pedestrian accident victim needs a lawyer.
How a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help
A pedestrian accident attorney can protect you and defend your best interests when you are unable to protect yourself. Specifically, a good attorney will:
- Investigate the accident on your behalf
- Protect you from accusations of fault
- Prove the drivers’ fault, ensuring you receive compensation
- Prevent you from being cheated by insurance companies who don’t want to pay out
- Help you accurately predict you full short- and long-term accident-related losses and expenses
- Handle complex and stressful paperwork on your behalf
- Manage deadlines, ensuring you don’t miss out on compensation due to technicalities
- Free up your time and energy so that you can focus on your recovery
- Represent you in court, if needed
All of these services are crucial. Victims do not have the experience necessary to understand:
- The full amount of compensation they are legally entitled to
- All the potential sources of compensation available for them to tap into
- The many strategies insurance companies employ to pay out as little as possible
Attorneys have a strong grasp of the system. They understand legal concepts like fault and damages, how to calculate them, and what is necessary to prove them in a court of law. This allows them to block insurance companies’ efforts and get their clients the help they deserve.
Lawyers also bring their full faculties to the fight. This is something that suffering and injured accident victims cannot do. Hiring a lawyer protects your rights and secures your future.
Important Dos and Don’ts Immediately After an Accident
If you are involved in a vehicle-pedestrian accident, DO:
- Get fully checked out by professional medical personnel right away, even if you think that you are fine
- Follow up on any medical care that is recommended or prescribed
- Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible
When involved in a vehicle-pedestrian accident, DO NOT:
- Provide any information about your condition or plans to the insurance companies involved
- Allow any phone calls with the insurance companies involved to be recorded
- Email or otherwise communicate on the record with the insurance companies involved
- Agree to or accept any settlements or terms from the insurance companies involved before having them reviewed by your attorney
Any information you provide may be used against you. Accepting insurance payouts can waive your right to receive more funds in the future, even if you should have been entitled to them. Don’t get trapped into these costly but avoidable mistakes.
Why You Need an Accident Attorney Right Away Every Time
Every vehicle-pedestrian accident is serious and has the potential for long-term, far-reaching consequences. The process of handling an accident and the resulting insurance claims is far more complex than most Americans realize. To make matters worse, innocent mistakes made in the hectic aftermath of being hit by a car can cost victims dearly.
For all of these reasons, it is essential that every victim of a vehicle-pedestrian accident hire an attorney as soon as possible after their accident. Even if you are able to settle out of court, you will need an attorney to get the compensation you deserve.
If you do go to court, having a lawyer is vital. Personal injury victims who defend themselves are up to 90 percent more likely to lose their cases than those represented by a lawyer. In many cases, though, just having a lawyer is enough to keep you out of court and get you an appropriate settlement.
Affording an Attorney
Don’t let fears about the potential cost keep you from consulting a personal injury attorney after an accident.
First, most attorneys offer free initial consultations. This meeting will give you important information about:
- How an attorney can help in your specific case
- What fees, costs, and compensation you can expect
- What payment plans or options are available if you are concerned about affording their services
Second, many personal injury attorneys work on contingency. This means that they will represent you without you paying any money upfront. If you lose your case, you do not owe the lawyer a dime.
If you win the case, the judge may require the other party to pay your legal fees for you. Even if they do not, you will have the money awarded to you by your settlement with which to pay your attorney. This means that most of the time you can hire a lawyer and not pay for their services out-of-pocket.
Know Your Rights
Knowing that you have the right hold off on engaging with insurance companies until after speaking to a pedestrian accident attorney can offer you powerful protection when you need it most. Learn more about your legal rights and how to make smart decisions today by checking out the other great articles in our legal section.