Steven A. Bagen | June 9, 2023 | Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents commonly result in severe injuries or death. Unfortunately, seeking compensation through the personal injury claims process for the expenses and impacts involved in becoming injured or losing a loved one in a pedestrian accident is a complex endeavor that requires presenting evidence and witness testimony to show liability. One also needs medical documentation to justify the claim’s value and ensure the claimant receives rightful compensation.
Hiring an attorney to help with the personal injury claims process is often presented by well-meaning friends and family members as an option. Make no mistake about it: Having an attorney help you navigate the process is crucial to the outcome of your claim.
Here is a look at why you need an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer on your side.
According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian accident fatalities have reached the highest levels in 40 years in the U.S., with well over 7,400 deaths reported in a year. Tens of thousands are injured in this type of accident on roadways across the nation, with many incurring permanent injuries that will impair their ability to earn an income in the future or to live independently.
The personal injury claims process provides those injured in an accident the opportunity to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury. Likewise, the wrongful death claims process allows the family members of an individual killed in a pedestrian accident to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their unexpected loss. However, in each process, there is a requirement to produce evidence and witness testimony to prove who was at fault for the accident. Insurance claims adjusters and others will often attempt to convince a claimant that they were responsible for the accident that caused their injuries, saying they should not have crossed outside a crosswalk or darted into traffic.
An experienced pedestrian accident attorney understands local pedestrian laws and the higher level of care that drivers of motor vehicles are required to provide to avoid accidents that can injure or kill pedestrians. Additionally, they have legal teams that assist them in gathering evidence such as police reports or testimony, and even in requesting the details of an at-fault party’s auto liability insurance policy to determine whose policy the claim should be filed against and how much insurance coverage is available to compensate the claim.
What Type of Insurance Resources are Available to Compensate a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
Being injured in an accident is rarely an inexpensive proposition. Value Penguin notes that the average hospital stay in the U.S. is 4.6 days, and the average cost of hospitalization is $2,873 per day, with additional expenses for imaging scans, prescriptions, and other charges.
The average U.S. resident would need to work 504 hours to cover a typical hospital stay at a time when working is not an option due to their injuries.
While the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance policy is one of the most common resources to seek compensation from through a personal injury claim, it is generally not the only type of insurance policy that can help cover the costs of the injury.
A pedestrian accident lawyer will look at all relevant insurance resources, including those held by the claimant, to ensure that the claimant is able to receive enough compensation to cover the financial and psychological impacts of their injury.
In no-fault states such as Florida, the claimant’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is commonly not only a viable source of compensation but the first resource. Registered drivers within the state are required to obtain PIP coverage to provide wage replacement and medical expense coverage for injuries that are not deemed serious.
Additionally, the claimant can have other types of insurance that can be accessed to assist them after they have been injured in a pedestrian accident, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that comes into play in both accidents in which the at-fault party lacks sufficient insurance coverage to compensate the claim entirely or in hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver cannot be located or identified to determine whether they have an auto liability policy that the claim can be filed against.
Health insurance policies held by the claimant as a benefit of employment or privately maintained by the claimant are also common sources of assistance after a pedestrian accident. Often, the insurer will provide coverage of accident expenses and later seek repayment from either the claimant or the at-fault party when the claims process has concluded.
As mentioned, police reports and witness testimony are common types of evidence that can prove liability in a pedestrian accident case. While the injured party can obtain a copy of the police report themselves through a process that generally requires applying for the information and paying a fee, this can be a tall order for someone whose focus is rightfully trained on recovering from significant injuries.
A pedestrian accident lawyer and their legal team can handle this information gathering so that the injured party or their family members can focus on moving forward from the accident.
Collecting some evidence that can prove liability in a pedestrian accident, such as surveillance video footage, requires quickly filing court motions. A pedestrian accident lawyer understands the need to act quickly to preserve this evidence for settlement negotiations or even in court if the case goes to trial.
Valuing Your Claim
Personal injury claimants can seek compensation for expenses and impacts that include: the costs of medically treating the injury, wage loss, loss of future earning capacity (if the injury is permanent and disabling), property damage associated with the accident such as a broken phone or torn clothing, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.
Wrongful death claimants can seek compensation for expenses and impacts, including the loss of monetary support provided by the deceased, the loss of inheritance that the death imposes on the deceased’s family, the cost of medical treatment for the deceased’s final injuries, the costs of a funeral and burial or cremation, and the loss of comfort, companionship, support, and society that the deceased provided for their family members in life.
Because pedestrian accident claims typically include compensation for impacts not easily proven through a receipt or bill for services, valuing the claim is more than just a matter of adding up expenses.
Pedestrian accident lawyers commonly consider several factors when determining a claim’s value, such as the severity of the injury that was suffered, the amount of insurance coverage available to compensate the claim, the presence of permanent injuries that will result in the incurrence of future expenses and even the level of carelessness or recklessness exhibited by the at-fault driver that led to the accident.
A pedestrian accident attorney will generally wait to determine the value of a personal injury claim until the claimant has reached maximum medical improvement, which is also a standard in workers’ compensation claims.
Pinncol Assurance explains that maximum medical improvement occurs when the claimant’s doctor determines that the underlying condition has stabilized. No further treatment can be reasonably expected to improve the claimant’s condition.
This is an excellent time to value the claim, as it gives a clearer picture of the permanence of the claimant’s injuries as well as the expenses associated with their treatment and the amount of time the claimant missed from work due to the severity of their injury.
Negotiating a Settlement
Most personal injury claims are resolved through a negotiated settlement out of court. A claims adjuster is tasked by the at-fault party’s insurance provider (or through an insurance provider who services the claimant’s own insurance policy) with evaluating the claim and determining whether the insured is liable for the accident, whether the policy the claim was filed against covers that claim and the amount of compensation owed to the claimant.
Claims adjusters work for insurance companies and commonly attempt to protect their employer’s bottom line by making low settlement offers for claims.
A pedestrian accident attorney can negotiate with an insurance claims adjuster to get them to increase their offer by providing the information needed to show the injury’s severity and an accounting of the monetary expenses that the claimant incurred as they obtained treatment for their injuries.
Filing a Lawsuit
Suppose an insurance company fails to either pay a valid claim outright or engage a pedestrian accident claimant in a settlement agreement. In that case, the claim can be filed as a lawsuit in civil court within the personal injury or wrongful death statute of limitations in the state where the accident occurred.
The statute of limitations is a legal deadline for filing a lawsuit that is in place to ensure that claimants have access to fresh evidence when attempting to prove their claim and that defendants are not faced with the potential of having legal action taken against them many years after the accident occurred.
Another important service provided by a pedestrian accident attorney is managing the timeline of the claim to adhere to the statute of limitations, as allowing this deadline to expire will not only result in the loss of the claimant’s right to use the court process when seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of the injury in most cases but will also result in the insurance provider refusing to settle the claim, because they are no longer legally required to do so.
Settlement negotiations do not have to stop when a lawsuit is filed. The parties can settle at any time from the time the insurance provider receives the claim until a judge or jury reaches a verdict.
Presenting Your Case in Court
If a claim has yet to be settled by the time the date of the trial rolls around, a pedestrian accident attorney will present the case to a judge or jury. Litigation involves several activities, including pre-trial conferences and hearings, filing and responding to pre-trial motions, preparing evidence exhibits, examining witnesses, and much more.
Courts require a number of formal actions that claimants are required to undergo, even if they are not aware of the actions. An attorney understands these requirements and is prepared to meet them on behalf of their client.
Helping You to Receive Your Compensation
At the conclusion of a personal injury or wrongful death claim, the compensation received through a negotiated settlement or a court verdict is generally sent to the claimant’s attorney. Because personal injury lawyers typically work on a contingent fee basis, they receive payment for their services once the compensation is received.
When they receive compensation, they will place the award in a trust account and withdraw their payment from the trust, then pay any medical liens placed on the award. They then will meet with their client to finalize the case and provide the claimant with the remainder of the award.
Can You Afford a Pedestrian Accident Attorney?
It costs nothing to have a free case evaluation with a pedestrian accident lawyer to discuss your case’s details and receive information about your legal options.
If you hire an attorney to work on your claim, the contingent fee agreement ensures that you will not pay any money upfront and will not need to pay the attorney at all if you lose the case. Because of these provisions, anyone who needs the assistance of a pedestrian accident lawyer for a personal injury in Gainesville or a wrongful death claim has access to that assistance.