What Happens In Pedestrian Caused Accidents?
When most people think of pedestrian accidents, they imagine cars striking pedestrians, but what happens if you hit a pedestrian and it’s their fault? California upholds that drivers have a higher duty of care to prevent accidents than pedestrians due to the simple fact that a driver is much more likely to harm a pedestrian than vice versa. However, California also maintains a pure comparative negligence statute. This law states that if a plaintiff contributes to their claimed damages in any way, they lose a portion of their case award. This portion is equal to their level of fault for causing those damages.
Jaywalking is a common exampleof a situation that can lead to a pedestrian absorbing liability for their damages under California’s pure comparative negligence statute. Pedestrians have a duty of care to crossroads only at designatedcrosswalks and only when it is safe to do so. Most crosswalks have signs that indicate when pedestrians are allowed to cross. If a pedestrian crosses outside of a crosswalk or when the crosswalk light indicates it is not yet safe to cross, they put themselves at extreme risk.
In the event you hit a pedestrian who was jaywalking or otherwise failing to uphold their own duty of care, it is safe to assume that you will still absorb liability for their damages. However, the judge overseeing your case will likely assign the pedestrian a fault percentage, and the pedestrian’s case award will be reduced by that percentage. For example, if an injured pedestrian claims $100,000 in damages, but the judge determines they are 30% at fault for the accident, they lose 30% of the case award and receive only $70,000 instead.
If you are concerned about your liability for damages after a pedestrian directly causes an accident, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you gather evidence to establish the pedestrian’s fault for causing the accident and potentially help you minimize your liability for their damages.
What to Do If You’re Hit by a Car as a Pedestrian
Most pedestrian accident claims are filed by pedestrians struck by negligent drivers. In the event you are hit by a car as a pedestrian in the Costa Mesa, CA area, your personal health and well-being should be your top concern. Most pedestrian accidents cause severe injuries to the pedestrians involved, and you will very likely be taken to the nearest hospital after being hit by a car. If you are able to move around after the accident, you should still seek medical care immediately. Prompt medical attention will ensure your injuries receive appropriate treatment and your doctor can identify injuries that may not be immediately noticeable, such as internal bleeding or organ damage.
After receiving medical treatment, your next step toward recovery should be to consult an experienced Costa Mesa pedestrian accident attorney. Your legal team will help you establish liability for your damages and assist you in gathering the documentation you will need to prove the full extent of your claimable damages.
Potential Damages and Compensation in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Pedestrian accidents can easily cause catastrophic injuries to victims. Injured pedestrians may suffer broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain damage. Multiple injuries are likely, and the injured pedestrian may require months of recovery before they are able to work or resume their normal everyday life after a pedestrian accident.
If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, California law allows you to claim any and all damages resulting from the incident in your personal injury lawsuit. Damages in pedestrian accident claims typically include:
- Immediate and future medical expenses. You have the right to claim the cost of any and all medical treatment you require after a pedestrian accident. This includes not only your hospital expenses and other immediate treatment costs for your injuries but also long-term medical costs for rehabilitation and ongoing therapeutic treatments you require.
- Lost income and lost earning potential. Your pedestrian accident is likely to leave you severely injured and unable to work while you recover. You can claim your lost wages while you recovered in your pedestrian accident claim. If your injuries caused permanent disability that prevents you from working in the future, you have the right to seek compensation for your lost future earning capacity in your personal injury claim.
- Property damage. If a negligent party causes damage to a victim’s personal property, the victim can claim repair or replacement costs in their personal injury lawsuit.
- Pain and suffering. California law allows an injured plaintiff to recover compensation for noneconomic damages resulting from another party’s negligence. This includes the physical pain and psychological distress you experienced from your pedestrian accident. California does not limit the amount a plaintiff can claim in pain and suffering compensation except in medical malpractice cases.
Depending on the scope of your injuries, a successful personal injury claim for a pedestrian accident could provide you with substantial compensation for your losses. However, success with your personal injury claim requires proving the defendant you name in your claim was negligent in some way that directly caused your claimed damages.
Commonly Cited Injuries in Pedestrian Accident Claims
Whenever a driver hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is likely to suffer severe injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries. The pedestrian may not only suffer a brain injury from the initial impact from the vehicle but also the secondary impact of hitting the ground. Some traumatic brain injuries will heal in time, but others cause permanent brain damage. It’s not uncommon for brain injury victims to experience a wide range of unpredictable symptoms, from persistent headaches and increased sensitivity to light and sound to memory problems and diminished cognitive ability.
- Spinal injuries. The human spine carries signals from the brain throughout the body, allowing control over bodily functions and movement. If the spine is injured, this pathway is interrupted, and the severity of the spinal injury typically informs the extent of the damage. The spine also cannot repair itself the same way as the rest of the body, so any spinal damage an injured pedestrian suffers is permanent.
- Broken bones. Crash impact forces in a pedestrian accident can easily cause severe bone fractures. Some broken bones may heal completely with proper treatment, but others can require surgical correction and long-term medical treatments.
- Facial injuries. Damage to the face can result in dental injury, permanent disfigurement, blindness, difficulty eating, and speaking difficulties. These injuries are highly traumatic and tend to involve some measure of permanent damage.
- Crushing injuries. In the event a car pins a pedestrian against a wall, another vehicle, or some other solid object, the victim can suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. For example, a crushing injury to a limb can require amputation to save the victim’s life.
These are just a few examples of the types of injuries that pedestrians struck by cars have cited in their civil claims. It’s also possible for a pedestrian accident to be fatal.
What Happens If a Pedestrian Dies After Being Hit by a Car?
In the event a pedestrian accident is fatal for the victim, their surviving loved ones have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the driver responsible for the incident. A wrongful death claim takes the place of a personal injury claim a victim could have filed had they survived. California law allows the deceased’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or adult child to file a wrongful death claim. If no such kin exists, then any party who can provide a legal interest in the deceased’s estate has the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims function very similarly to personal injury claims, with a few notable exceptions. The plaintiff can recover many of the same damages as the victim could have in a personal injury claim. However, they also have the right to claim compensation for funeral and burial expenses, lost financial support the deceased provided to their family, and lost affection, care, and guidance provided by the deceased.
The Standard Procedure for a Pedestrian Accident Claim in Costa Mesa, CA
If you believe you have valid grounds to file a personal injury claim following a pedestrian accident in Costa Mesa, CA, it’s important to work quickly if you intend to maximize your compensation for your damages. California provides a two-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims, beginning on the date an injury occurred or the date the victim discovered harm done by another party. Two years seems like a long time, but when you account for the fact that you must determine the full scope of your claimable damages before filing your case with the Costa Mesa civil court, this timeframe can diminish quickly.
Your first step toward recovery after a pedestrian accident should be medical treatment for your injuries. Many pedestrian accidents cause severe injuries that require ambulance transportation to the nearest hospital for emergency care. Once you receive treatment for your injuries, ask your attending physician for a medical report. This document will include clear descriptions of all your injuries and the doctor’s prognosis for future complications resulting from those injuries. This document will be essential for ensuring you receive appropriate compensation for your immediate and future medical expenses.
Next, you should obtain a copy of the police report from your pedestrian accident. This report will include descriptions of the responding officer’s findings from the scene of the accident, including witness statements and other observations from the police that could be crucial in establishing liability for your damages.
Once you have the police report and your medical report, you are ready to meet with a Costa Mesa pedestrian accident attorney to discuss your claim. A good attorney will be able to quickly identify any potential challenges or unique opportunities present in your case and explain how your case is likely to unfold. Proving negligence in most pedestrian accident claims is fairly straightforward. Depending on how and where your accident occurred, your attorney may need to gather supporting evidence and consult with various experts to ensure they can hold the defendant in your claim accountable for their actions.
The majority of personal injury claims filed in the US settle outside of court. Settlement is more expedient than litigation and tends to provide better results for both plaintiffs and defendants. Plaintiffs may receive slightly less than they could from litigation, but they secure compensation more quickly and can avoid protracted legal battles. Defendants who are willing to assume responsibility for their actions can provide fair settlements to plaintiffs and then put these experiences behind them. However, if you file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your pedestrian accident, there is no guarantee that they will be willing to enter settlement negotiations, and they may outright deny liability for your damages. If this occurs, your case proceeds to litigation, and it can take months for a pedestrian accident case to reach a conclusion when this happens.
What to Expect from Your Attorney
If you or a loved one have suffered severe injuries in a pedestrian accident in the Costa Mesa, CA area, you need a reliable attorney who can guide you through the legal process of obtaining compensation for your damages. At Easton & Easton, we take time to get to know our clients, so we fully understand how their experiences have impacted their lives. Our team will review your case, help you assess your damages, and explain how your claim is likely to unfold.
Your attorney will assist you in gathering the evidence you need to hold the driver responsible for your pedestrian accident accountable for their actions. Your legal team will also assist in proving negligence and establishing the defendant’s liability for your claimed damages. Easton & Easton strives to maximize the recovery of every client we represent. Rest assured that our team will explore every available avenue of recovery in your case and handle your legal proceedings so you can recover with peace of mind.
If you have suffered injuries and economic losses from a pedestrian accident, you need a Costa Mesa pedestrian accident lawyer to guide you through the legal side of your recovery. Contact Easton & Easton today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about how our firm can assist in your recovery.