When Pedestrians and Moving Cars come together
I bet nobody left their home expecting to be in a pedestrian accident. But each year, more than 130,000 pedestrians are treated each year in emergency rooms for non-fatal, crash-related injuries. Additionally, traffic accidents kill 6,000 pedestrians each year, equating to approximately one death every 88 minutes.
No settlement amount can provide enough justice to repair a life shattered by a catastrophic accident with a pedestrian.However, filing a lawsuit can provide accident victims and their loved ones with much-needed closure. A pedestrian personal injury case also allows victims to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. If severe we also recommend bringing loss of Consortium claims where appropriate.
Have you been hit by a car in a pedestrian accident? If so, consider how a personal injury law firm like Betz and Baril can help you and your loved ones receive the settlement you deserve.
Pedestrian Rights and Duties in Tennessee
Much like in the rest of the U.S., Tennessee generally shares the same right of way rules for pedestrians on sidewalks, crosswalks, and public roads. These rules state that cars must yield to pedestrians on crosswalks, sidewalks, parking lots, and other roadways.
In other words, pedestrians have the right of way but remember when your the pedestrian being right is not always the best result. With this right of way comes several duties, including:
- The duty to obey traffic and crosswalk signals
- The duty to cross the road at designated crosswalks
- The duty to use the sidewalk whenever possible and not walk immediately in the roadway
- The duty to walk along the shoulder of the road, facing traffic, whenever there is not a sidewalk
- The duty to pay attention and walk carefully whenever they have the right of way
- The duty to remain aware of their surroundings and take all necessary precautions to remain safe.
If a pedestrian follows all duties and responsibilities but is injured in a traffic accident, the motorist should be responsible for the pedestrian's injuries.
Common Causes of a Pedestrian Accident
Though there are plenty of pedestrians struck on country roads, most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas. Busy city streets have more injuries and fatalities, and the majority of fatalities occur at night. Moreover, almost 3/4 of Pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes occur where no traffic controls, such as lights or signage, exist.
Studies show cars making left turns hit three times as many pedestrians as cars making right turns. Motorcycle Accident fatalities most often happen with cars making a left turn as well. When making a left turn, the driver is looking straight ahead at oncoming traffic. They're usually not looking to the left (where they're turning).
Typically, the pedestrian is also looking straight ahead where they're walking. They're not usually looking to their right (where the car is coming from). Because both the pedestrian and the motorist are looking straight ahead, the two do not see one another.
While there are several common causes of a pedestrian accident, most if not all boil down to two categories:
motorist causes, and
Motorist Causes for Pedestrian Accidents
A motorist is typically driving more than a ton of pure metal and steel, so when they cause a pedestrian accident, the results can be catastrophic. The most common cause of Motorcycle Accidents, truck accidents, and auto accidents with a pedestrian is Driving Under the Influence.
Nearly half of all fatal pedestrian accidents involve an someone driving under the influence.
Other common motorist causes for pedestrian accidents include:
- Bad weather
- distracted driving
- Failing to obey traffic signals
- Failure to yield to a pedestrian
- Pedestrian Causes for Car Accidents
Pedestrians have equal responsibility when sharing the road with motorists. As such, they must safely conduct themselves when walking along sidewalks, crosswalks, parking lots, and roadways. When a pedestrian neglects their duties, they put themselves at risk of causing an accident.
Common pedestrian causes for car accidents include:
- Ignoring a traffic signal
- Walking in prohibited areas
- Failing to walk on the sidewalk
- Wearing dark clothing at night
- Jaywalking (walking outside of a crosswalk)
Common Injuries for Pedestrians Hit by Cars
Pedestrians struck by a vehicle typically suffer injuries to their pelvis, abdomen, chest, extremities, and head. However, pedestrians can also suffer what are called secondary injuries. These are injuries caused by being lifted into the air or thrown across the road. Needless to say these accidents are many times catastrophic in nature.
Several factors contribute to the severity of a pedestrian's injuries. Some of these factors include:
the driver's speed at the time of the crash,
the type of vehicle,
the pedestrian's age,
Injuries often suffered by Pedestrians
During a pedestrian accident, the lower body is most likely to come into contact with the vehicle first. In most cases, the force of impact causes pelvic injuries, such as fractures, lacerations, and trauma to the ligaments and muscles.
The cars hood design is a contributing factor to the severity of lower-body injuries. For instance, a large, domed hood could cause more damage to the lower body than a shorter, sleeker hood.
The torso and abdomen can sustain damage in a pedestrian accident, especially if the striking vehicle was a truck or large sedan. The force of impact can break one or multiple ribs, which can cause internal bleeding. Broken ribs can also puncture organs like the liver, kidney, and stomach, causing severe damage.
Anytime head trauma is involved in a collision, the stakes are extremely high. Damage can range from:
a minor concussion,
to a traumatic brain injury (TBI),
or brain swelling.
Likewise, if the head strikes the vehicle or the pavement: skull damage, such as a fracture, can occur.
The upper part of the body is likely to come into contact with the vehicle second. When this happens, the neck, face, and head can strike the windshield or hood of the vehicle, causing serious neck injury. Common examples of neck injuries include:
sprains and strains,
such as whip lash and
It's not uncommon for accident victims to raise their hands over their face or head to protect themselves during impact. When the upper body comes into contact with the vehicle, the shoulders can sustain numerous injuries, which include:
and fractures are some of the most frequently experienced shoulder injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can have life-changing consequences. Because the spinal cord is responsible for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body, even minor damage can be devastating. In other areas of the spine, bulging discs, pinched nerves, and sprains can occur. Call Betz and Baril we will fight to get you the money you deserve.
In the most severe cases, pedestrians struck by a motor vehicle may pass away due to their injuries. Wrongful death cases occur when the pedestrian is killed due to the driver's negligence, such as speeding or driving drunk. In most instances the grieving family members never get fully compensated.-
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
The first moments after a pedestrian accident in Tennessee whether it be Knox County, Nashville, Davidson County, or Blount County are frightening and disorientating. If you can, dial 911 right away to report the accident and ask for help. Be sure to let the dispatcher know that you're a pedestrian who has been hit by a car. If you're not physically able to access your cell phone, ask a bystander or the driver to dial 911 for you.
Next, you must do your best to gather whatever evidence is available to you and receive immediate medical attention the immediacy of you treatment often is the difference between life and death.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
Accident scenes don't last long, especially if they're in the middle of a busy road. Before leaving the scene, do your best to gather any evidence that may support your claim. If you're unable to move around the scene yourself, call a loved one or ask one of the responding police officers to gather information for you. In most cases, the police officer will be filing a so they'll be collecting evidence either way.
Be sure to ask the driver of the car for all of their contact information, including their full name, address, and home and work phone numbers. Likewise, gather all insurance information necessary to file your claim. Next, record all details about the vehicle that hit you, including:
- Make, model & year
- License plate number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
Owner's name and contact information, in the case whoever was driving the vehicle is not the vehicle's legal owner.
Lastly, take as many photographs as possible. If you're unable to take pictures, have a loved one or bystander take pictures for you.
Focus on any damage to the vehicle where it struck your body, the surrounding area and signage, your injuries, and any other details that show what happened at the scene. Whenever possible, ask to record any witness statements, and be sure to include the witness's name and contact information in the recording.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Never refuse medical attention at the scene of the accident. Shock and adrenaline can mask symptoms of severe injuries like brain trauma, as well as pain has a way of not showing up immediately.
Once paramedics arrive, alert them to every symptom you're experiencing—even if you think it's mild. If the paramedics want to take you to the hospital, let them. In case you aren't taken directly to the hospital after the accident, visit the emergency room, an urgent care center, or your private doctor as soon as possible. Immediate medical attention is crucial to diagnose and document any underlying damage caused by the accident.
Plus, delaying or refusing medical treatment can ultimately harm your injury claim. Without immediate documentation, the insurance company may attempt to may try and deny your claim., arguing that your injuries weren't caused by the accident.
Who is Liable in a Pedestrian Accident Case?
All motorists have a duty of care to obey traffic laws and pay close attention to their surroundings. This is a law that requires all drivers, including motorcyclists, to use common sense and act reasonably and carefully under all circumstances. Drivers who breach their duty of care by ignoring traffic laws or failing to use sound judgment are considered negligent in the eyes of the law.
To prove a driver was liable for your damages, you must be able to prove to the insurance company that the driver was negligent. This negligence must be the direct or proximate cause of your injuries. However, the insurance company may push back, stating that your actions also contributed to the accident. In this case, comparative negligence laws may come into play.
Comparative Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident Case
The state of Tennessee uses a modified comparative negligence laws. This means an injured pedestrian can pursue compensation from an at-fault driver, even if the pedestrian was partly responsible for the accident but not 50 percent or more at fault. A pedestrian can be found partly responsible for an accident if they breach their pedestrian duty of care, such as failing to cross at a crosswalk (jaywalking) or ignoring a traffic signal.
Seeking the Help of a Pedestrian Accident Attorney to Prove Negligence
Proving negligence is no easy feat. If you're a pedestrian who has been hit by a car, you'll need to build a solid case. A successful personal injury claim requires well-organized paperwork and documentation of all damages to establish negligence. This documentation can help prove the driver breached their duty of care and support the value of your claim.
While you're healing from your injuries, you should consider seeking the help of a pedestrian accident attorney and Betz & Baril has you covered. A strong attorney-client relationship can help streamline the claims process, removing the stress of the case from your shoulders.
Betz & Baril understands how important relationships are with are clients. Plus, your attorney can gather the necessary materials to support your case, so you can focus on recovery. Indispensable materials to prove negligence in a pedestrian accident case include:
a police accident report,
witness statements, and
.A police report includes the time of the accident, weather and roadway conditions, a simple diagram of the accident scene, the responding officer's opinion of fault, and any collected witness statements. If any citations were issued to the motorist, such as speeding or drunk driving, these items are also included in the report. This information carries a lot of weight with the insurance company, as it's a credible, unbiased version of the events.
Witness statements are invaluable evidence, whether they come from the police report or your independent investigation at the accident scene. A pedestrian accident attorney can also reconstruct the accident scene using expert witnesses to help support your case. Betz and Baril has engineers who have been vital witnesses in the past to getting to just outcomes for our clients.
Medical Records and Bills
Your medical records are crucial evidence, especially if you were taken to the emergency room. These documents tie your medical expenses directly to the pedestrian accident. Copies of your medical bills, such as an ambulance ride, surgery, or medications, can verify your medical treatment and prove the cost of your injuries. The total cost of your medical expenses is a large part of calculating your settlement value, so these documents must be in order.
Being involved in a serious pedestrian accident can put you out of work for the foreseeable future. Betz and Barilyour personal injury attorneys can contact your employer to provide a written statement of the time you lost from work, as well as sick leave or vacation days you were forced to take during your recovery. Lost opportunities for overtime pay, tips, and gratuity can also be included in lost wages.
For undocumented immigrants lost wages works differently because of Rodriguez v. Kline. For undocumented persons, a different calculation is used by the court to determine the past and future wage loss. Undocumented immigrants are entitled to lost wages but they are calculated differently than they are for legal residents and U.S. citizens. In the California case of Rodriguez v. Kline, the court held if a person is not legally allowed to work in the United States, using their illegally obtained wages as a measure of wage loss compensation is improper. Frequently, this holding in a much smaller recovery than if the worker were allowed to collect based on his or her earnings in the United States
What Are the Types of Damages in a Pedestrian Injury Claim?
Before diving into the pedestrian hit by car settlement amounts, it's important to understand the types of damages that can be included in an injury claim. There are a few types of damages in most personal injury cases:
& punitive damages.
What are Special Damages?
Special damages are also referred to as “economic damages” in personal injury law. These types of damages can be calculated to the exact dollar amount. Typically, an attorney utilizes bills, statements, or receipts to price special damages.
Examples of special damages in a pedestrian injury claim include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment, including home care
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
What are General Damages?
Unlike special damages, general damages are not capable of exact calculation. These types of damages are referred to as “non-economic” because they don't have a price tag. Instead, their value is decided based on a sliding scale used by insurance companies.
Examples of general damages in a pedestrian injury claim include:
- Long-term disability or paralysis
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
Additionally, a motorist can face monetary penalties for gross negligence, which are then awarded as part of the total settlement.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are to punish and deter the conduct from happening again.
Leave the Damage Calculations to a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Right now, you are recovering from a catastrophic injury. You need time to heal physically and mentally – and the last thing you need to worry about is how to calculate damages. After your serious injury, you need an attorney to help handle the negotiations, collect evidence, and settle your claim with the insurance company. If you have been a victim in a Pedestrian accident, call Betz and Baril today. We will build your case and fight to get you every penny you deserve and more. It is what we do.