Answers To The Most Frequently Asked Questions In Pedestrian Accident Cases
- If I am a pedestrian, does a motor vehicle driver owe any special duty or care toward me under law?
It is well recognized that although pedestrians and drivers are both charged with a duty to exercise ordinary care, the amount of care required of the driver is greater, since the driver is driving a vehicle capable of inflicting injury or death. Motorists have a duty of having their vehicle under sufficient control to enable them to avoid injury to pedestrians.
- As a pedestrian, what duty is placed upon me to avoid accidents?
Pedestrians are required by statute to obey traffic signs and signals. Therefore, every pedestrian has the duty, before entering a street, to make reasonably careful observations to ascertain traffic conditions to be encountered. Pedestrians should not begin or continue their forward course across a street if they are aware of the approach of a vehicle. Interestingly, a pedestrian who is “just outside of a crosswalk” is entitled to the exact same protections as a pedestrian who is in a crosswalk. Remember, however, if you are partially at fault for the accident, this does not mean that you cannot also sue the vehicle driver or other entity that is at fault.
- Is a driver always at fault for an accident if the pedestrian is in or near a crosswalk?
No. Although a motor vehicle driver is required to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, the driver is not required to anticipate that a pedestrian may suddenly run out from the curb directly into the path of the driver’s car.
- If my child has been injured or killed by a motor vehicle when he or she was a pedestrian, what are our rights?
The law recognizes that greater care must be exercised for the protection and safety of young children than for adults possessing normal and mature faculties. The law recognizes that children’s conduct is unpredictable and one operating a motor vehicle should anticipate their thoughtlessness and impulsiveness. The presence of children itself is a warning of danger requiring an exercise of care for their safety.
Thus, a motor vehicle driver must exercise a greater degree of care when they know or should know that small children are at play in the immediate area. A driver even owes a duty to anticipate the presence of the children he cannot see. Thus, with the exception of a case in which a child darts out in front of a vehicle and a driver has no opportunity to stop and had no reason to anticipate the dart-out, you should be able to prevail in a case against the vehicle driver.
- What if I or one of my family members is injured or killed by an uninsured/underinsured motorist while we were pedestrians?
An uninsured or underinsured motorist policy will probably provide coverage for the injuries or death to you or your family. Thus, you will be able to recover damages up to the amount of your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy limit.
- What damages are recoverable in pedestrian accident cases?
Plaintiff is entitled to recover damages for past and future and medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and if it is deemed that conduct is bad enough, punitive damages (i.e., punishment damages against the defendant). If the pedestrian dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the pedestrian’s death as well as emotional distress damages which stem from the loss of society care and comfort of the decedent. If the survivors can prove that the pedestrian lived for a period of time between the negligent act and death, they can also bring an action for punitive damages.
- How soon do I need to bring a case after a pedestrian accident?
If you are an adult, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a case except on rare occasions in which there is delayed discovery. However, if a public entity is in any way at fault for the accident, the claim against the public entity must be brought within six months whether the pedestrian was a child or an adult. The same rules would apply if your child was killed in an accident. If your child was injured in a pedestrian accident, he or she has until the child’s 19th birthday to bring an action. However, it is generally wise to not wait very long to bring a case because evidence will be lost and the cast may become more difficult to prove.
- Do I need to retain an attorney?
It is almost always a good idea to retain an attorney in a pedestrian accident case because there usually will be some questions of comparative fault, and expert witnesses may need to be retained to reconstruct the accident factors and help determine responsibility for the accident.
- Will my case settle out of court?
Probably. Ninety percent to ninety-five percent of pedestrian accident cases settle before trial.
Most legal questions require complex answers. The answers provided here may not be complete or fully accurate but attempt to provide consumers with abbreviated answers. For more detailed answers to these questions, a consumer should check out other articles in this section of this website, research other legal articles and texts on the subject matter or consult with an attorney.