If a motorist hit you while you were on foot, you may be left with significant medical expenses from your treatment and rehabilitation. You might also face additional financial pressure if you cannot work while recovering from your injuries or become permanently disabled due to the accident. You may have the right to demand compensation from the driver who hit you. But you can face substantial obstacles to recovering the money you need after a pedestrian accident.
You may wonder whether a pedestrian accident attorney can help you with your case. You might not know what a pedestrian accident attorney does or whether it makes financial sense to hire a lawyer. Read on to learn more about why you need a Miami pedestrian accident attorney to help you with your injury claim.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
The Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports 8,117 pedestrian accidents in one recent year. These accidents resulted in 1,265 incapacitating injuries, 5,039 non-capacitating injuries, and 715 fatalities.
Nationwide, the Governors’ Highway Safety Association reports that pedestrian fatality rates have hit their highest level in 40 years, with approximately 20 pedestrian deaths occurring daily. In particular, fatalities of pedestrians aged 15 and younger have doubled in recent years.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Some of the most frequent causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving/road rage
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Failing to yield at crosswalks or intersections
- Distracted driving, especially distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road, such as texting while driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Drowsy driving
- Failing to signs or check mirrors before turning
- Illegal turns
- Inadequate brake or tire maintenance
Other factors contributing to pedestrian accidents include poor road conditions like slick road surfaces or potholes, poor visibility due to heavy precipitation or fog, or unsafe road/intersection design that increases the risk of a pedestrian/vehicle collision.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrians typically suffer severe injuries in a collision with a motor vehicle due to their lack of protection from a crash.
Some of the more common injuries sustained by pedestrians in accidents with vehicles include:
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Degloving injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Ligament sprains and tears
- Muscle and tendon strains and tears
- Nerve damage
- Herniated disc injury
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Crush injuries
- Perforation injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Facial injuries
- Dental injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Traumatic amputation or limb loss
What Financial Recovery Can You Obtain After a Pedestrian Accident?
After a pedestrian accident, you may have several options for recovering compensation for your injuries. First, you can file a claim with your auto insurance if you have a policy. Florida auto insurers must include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage with every policy. PIP coverage provides compensation for medical expenses and lost wages arising from injuries you suffered in an auto accident, even if you were a pedestrian.
If PIP coverage cannot compensate you for all your losses, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim against the driver who hit you.
A pedestrian accident lawsuit can provide you with compensation for your:
- Medical/rehabilitation care, including hospitalization, surgeries, medical procedures, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and physical/occupational therapy
- Long-term care and support for permanent disabilities, including home health services, medical/mobility equipment, and installation of disability accommodations
- Damaged or destroyed personal property such as clothing, glasses, or cell phone
- Lost wages/income from missed work during your recovery
- Lost future earning capacity and employment benefits due to permanent disability from work
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment and quality of life
In certain circumstances, you may also be eligible to recover punitive damages in a pedestrian accident lawsuit. Punitive damages punish an at-fault party for particularly egregious conduct and aim to deter others from similar conduct in the future.
Steps You Should Take After Suffering Injuries in a Pedestrian Accident
You can help protect your rights to recover compensation for the injuries you suffered in a pedestrian accident by taking these steps:
- Report the accident by calling 911 if you need medical assistance or contact law enforcement directly.
- Take photos and videos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, traffic controls, and visible injuries you suffered.
- Get the driver’s contact and insurance information and the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
- Seek prompt medical attention to diagnose your injuries and begin treatment and rehabilitation.
- Report the accident to your car insurance company as soon as possible to maintain your eligibility for coverage under your policy, including personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Keep copies of your bills and invoices for expenses from the accident and copies of your pay stubs or income statements if you take time off work or have a reduction in income.
- Request copies of the police accident report and the medical records of your treatment.
- Keep a diary or journal of your recovery to document the pain and physical impairment you experience.
Finally, contact a pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options for financial recovery and to have your lawyer start preparing your case.
Reasons Why You May Need a Lawyer After a Pedestrian Accident
You shouldn’t assume you will receive compensation after getting hit by a motor vehicle while crossing or walking down the street. Pedestrian accident victims often have difficulty getting the compensation they need.
Some of the reasons why you should hire a lawyer after a pedestrian accident include:
- You need someone to collect evidence from the accident scene for you after suffering debilitating injuries
- Insurance adjusters contact you immediately after the accident to ask you about your injuries or to request a recorded or written statement
- The insurance company delays investigating your claim
- The insurance company denies or undervalues your compensation claim
- The driver who hit you tries to shift the blame for the accident onto you
- You keep receiving letters and calls from bill or medical debt collectors after you cannot pay your debts due to temporary disability from work
A lawyer can help ensure you have a compelling, persuasive case and can deal with insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, or debt collectors on your behalf. Your attorney can take much of the stress of recovering from a pedestrian accident and pursuing your legal rights off your shoulders so you can focus on your medical treatment and rehabilitation.
How Can a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Help You Obtain Compensation and Justice From the At-fault Driver?
A pedestrian accident lawyer can handle the details of preparing and pursuing your legal claims following an accident. An attorney can free you to focus on your medical treatment and physical recovery.
You can turn to your lawyer to handle aspects of your case, such as:
- Thoroughly investigating the crash to recover evidence for your claim, including police accident reports, witness statements, camera footage of the accident, and accident scene photos and videos
- Building a case to argue that the driver was at fault
- Identifying other potentially liable parties, such as the at-fault driver’s employer, if the accident occurred in the course of the driver’s employment
- Working with accident reconstruction, medical, vocational, and financial experts to strengthen your case with persuasive opinion testimony
- Documenting your injuries and losses to have evidence in support of your compensation demands
- Evaluating your legal options for financial recovery, including identifying applicable insurance coverage
- Preparing and filing your insurance claims and demand letters
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters and defense lawyers on your behalf to try to secure a fair and full settlement that pays you the money you need as soon as possible
- Advocating on your behalf in court and at trial, pursuing a verdict in your favor that provides you with maximum compensation and justice.
How Does a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Prove the Driver’s Fault for the Accident?
Some of the evidence that a pedestrian accident lawyer may use to prove the liability of the driver who hit you includes:
- Police accident reports
- Accident scene photos/videos
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance/traffic camera footage
- Dashcam footage
- Traffic light and road sensor data
- Vehicle event data recorder/black box logs
- The driver’s cell phone records
- The driver’s drug/alcohol test results
- Accident reconstruction expert reports
How Long Do I Have to File a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
Under Florida Statutes Section 95.11, the statute of limitations on injury claims requires you to file your lawsuit within four years of the pedestrian accident. Filing a lawsuit after the statutory period expires creates the risk that the trial court will permanently dismiss your claim. If that occurs, you will lose your opportunity to recover compensation in court from the driver who hit you.
If a state-owned vehicle hit you, the time allotted to file a lawsuit is different. Florida Statutes Section 768.28 requires you to give notice of your pedestrian accident claim to the Florida Department of Financial Services within three years of the pedestrian accident. Failure to do so risks losing your rights to financial recovery from the state.
In addition, many municipalities in Florida have different claim notice requirements and deadlines that you must follow to obtain compensation after a pedestrian accident with a county or municipal government vehicle.
Will I Have To Go to Court To Get Compensation for a Pedestrian Accident?
Most pedestrian accident claims settle rather than going to trial. Some claims settle even before the filing of a lawsuit in the case.
A pedestrian accident attorney will pursue the money you need as efficiently as possible in a settlement. However, your attorney can advise you when filing a lawsuit or going to trial will give you the best opportunity to recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Your attorney can also prepare you for what to expect in a pedestrian accident lawsuit or trial.
Can I File a Pedestrian Injury Lawsuit if I Share Some of the Fault for the Accident?
Florida uses the pure comparative negligence rule for injury claims. This rule states that an injured victim may pursue compensation from the party or parties liable for their injuries even if the injured person was partly at fault for the accident that led to their injury. The more fault you have for the accident, the less compensation you’ll be eligible to receive.
Call an attorney if an at-fault driver or insurance company tries to shift blame for the accident onto you and minimize your financial recovery. A pedestrian accident lawyer can fight back on your behalf if the driver or the insurance company claims you bear some share of responsibility for the accident, advocating to recover maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer To Get Money From an Insurance Claim?
The insurance company may offer you a settlement soon after a pedestrian accident. But do not assume that this offer will pay you the full compensation you need and deserve. Insurers prefer quick settlements because they minimize the insurance company’s liability.
You may not realize the full extent of your injuries or losses soon after a pedestrian accident. When you accept a quick settlement, you forfeit your right to demand compensation for future expenses and losses you incur. A lawyer can investigate your claims and document your injuries to calculate fair compensation. An attorney can negotiate with the insurance adjusters for a higher settlement if the insurer tries to pressure you into a lowball settlement offer.
How Much Does a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Cost?
Most pedestrian accident lawyers represent accident victims on a contingency fee basis. In a contingency fee arrangement, an accident victim does not need to pay any money upfront to hire a lawyer for their case. The lawyer only receives a legal fee if they recover compensation for their client in a settlement or a trial verdict. This allows an injured pedestrian to get the legal help they need without an upfront financial risk. Reach out to a Miami personal injury lawyer today.