Pedestrian accidents happen too frequently on today's roads, and driver negligence often causes them. Drivers who speed, ignore crosswalks, text, or drive under the influence may fail to notice innocent pedestrians until it's too late. This leads to devastating outcomes, leaving pedestrians with painful injuries or worse.
If you or a family member has experienced this, you must understand that you have legal rights and options. A knowledgeable Columbia pedestrian accident attorney can provide information about your rights and take legal action on your behalf. In such a situation, contacting an attorney should be one of your initial steps.
Types of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can occur in various circumstances, including the following:
- Crosswalk Accidents: Drivers often hit pedestrians while they are using crosswalks, either by drivers who fail to yield the right of way or by those making turns without checking for pedestrians.
- Intersection Collisions: Accidents frequently happen when pedestrians and vehicles cross paths at intersections. Failure to obey traffic signals or signs can lead to collisions.
- Hit and Run Incidents: Some drivers may flee the scene after striking a pedestrian. Hit-and-run accidents make it challenging for the victim to identify the party responsible. These cases especially benefit from the services of a Columbia pedestrian accident attorney.
- Backover Accidents: These accidents occur when a vehicle moving backward strikes a pedestrian, often in parking lots or residential areas. Children and elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable.
- Distracted Driving Accidents: Drivers distracted by using cell phones, adjusting the radio, or participating in other activities may not notice pedestrians, leading to accidents.
- Speeding Accidents: Excessive speed decreases a driver's reaction time and increases the severity of injuries if a pedestrian collision occurs.
- Drunk Driving Accidents: Impaired drivers pose a significant risk to pedestrians. Alcohol or drug impairment can lead to accidents with severe consequences for pedestrians.
- Failure to Yield: Excessive speed decreases a driver's reaction time and increases the severity of injuries if a pedestrian collision occurs.
- Uneven surfaces or lack of proper signage may pose hazards.
- Inadequate Lighting Accidents: Accidents are more likely to happen with low visibility. Lack of proper street lighting or drivers not using headlights in low-light conditions can lead to pedestrian accidents.
- School Zone Accidents: Areas around schools are common locations for pedestrian accidents, often involving children. Motorists should exercise extra caution in school zones.
Investigating the Accident
If law enforcement responded to your accident, they likely conducted an on-site investigation, typically sketching the scene to indicate the vehicle's direction and the pedestrian's position. Law enforcement will obtain statements from the parties involved and any witnesses they can locate. The insurance companies will also gather their customers' accounts of the accident.
However, these law enforcement investigations are often brief and may lack a comprehensive understanding of the events leading up to and during the accident. They might contain omissions, errors, or inaccuracies provided by the other party involved. To address this, your pedestrian accident lawyer will initiate an independent investigation to determine the cause of the crash. This includes the following:
- Examining the police accident report
- Reviewing the insurance company's report
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Obtaining available surveillance videos
- Assessing the history of issues at the accident location
- Investigating the driving records of those involved
- Inspecting the accident scene
- Scrutinizing medical records
- Enlisting experts for further review when necessary
Through this extensive investigation, your attorney can present a clearer and more accurate account of the collision, establish fault, and demonstrate the other party's liability for their negligence.
Managing Your Medical Care
Victims of pedestrian accidents may underestimate the severity of their injuries, and these injuries can evolve over time. Even if immediate symptoms appear mild initially, issues such as neck stiffness, pain, decreased mobility, headaches, and other concerns may manifest days or weeks later. Seeking prompt medical treatment is crucial to prevent the worsening of injuries or the development of complications, and your Columbia pedestrian accident attorney can play a crucial role in ensuring you receive the necessary care.
Financial concerns often deter some injury victims from seeking medical attention. However, if a motorist is responsible for the accident, they are liable for covering your related damages. Your pedestrian accident attorney will not only encourage and assist you in obtaining proper treatment but also advocate for the at-fault driver's insurance company to cover your medical expenses.
Gathering Compelling Evidence
While capturing images of the damaged vehicle and obtaining medical records are good initial steps in collecting evidence following a pedestrian accident, they are not exhaustive. There is a possibility that the driver may attempt to conceal or manipulate evidence related to the accident's cause. An attorney can ensure the preservation of relevant evidence, preventing tampering,
Drafting and Mailing a Settlement Demand Letter
One of the initial steps your attorney takes post-accident to secure compensation involves writing and sending a demand letter to all appropriate insurance companies. This letter provides a comprehensive overview of the claim, establishing the driver's liability. Typically, a demand letter includes the following key elements:
- Contact details for all involved parties
- A detailed account of the circumstances leading to the pedestrian accident
- Documentation of property damage and physical injuries resulting from the incident
- Details of losses and expenses associated with the accident
- A formal request for monetary compensation from the insurance provider
In most instances, the issuance of the demand letter marks the beginning of negotiations with the insurance adjuster. Your Columbia pedestrian accident attorney will handle this negotiation process on your behalf.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Engaging in negotiations with the insurance adjuster stands is a crucial stage in seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident. Without the skills of a seasoned attorney, this phase can pose significant risks to the success of a claim.
It's important to recognize that the insurance carrier employs a team of lawyers and adjusters who focus on handling liability and injury claims. If you directly communicate with the driver's insurance company without legal representation, they might attempt to extract statements from you that can undermine your claim. This strategic move aims to strengthen their position, potentially leading to a complete denial of your insurance claim or a reduced payout. To protect your interests, allow your attorney to handle all interactions with the insurance company, increasing your chances of securing full and fair compensation.
Ultimately, the decision to accept the insurance company's settlement offer usually rests with the injured party. Your lawyer will thoroughly discuss the available options with you. If the insurance company proves uncooperative in negotiations or provides an insufficient settlement for your damages, your accident lawyer can proceed to litigate the claim in civil court with your consent.
Initiating a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Pedestrian Accident
If negotiations with the insurer prove unsuccessful, your attorney can initiate a personal injury lawsuit in the relevant local civil court. Your Columbia pedestrian accident lawyer will carefully craft the lawsuit to establish a strong foundation for liability and present a compelling argument outlining all your incurred damages.
While a pedestrian accident lawsuit may take a while before reaching trial, it's noteworthy that most personal injury lawsuits are resolved before the scheduled trial date. As the trial date approaches, the likelihood of both parties reaching a negotiated settlement tends to increase.
Compensation Available in a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit
Our legal system awards compensation to pedestrian accident victims to address the injuries and losses sustained by the victim. When pursuing a personal injury claim, individuals should seek maximum restitution for their damages from the negligent party or their insurance provider.
Compensatory damages in personal injury cases cover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have a quantifiable and specific value, such as medical expenses or costs related to pedestrian-vehicle repairs. Non-economic damages are more challenging to quantify and often involve the pain and suffering resulting from the accident.
While not all damages may apply to each case, common compensatory damages in pedestrian accidents include:
- Medical expenses, covering emergency medical treatment and therapies
- Property repair or replacement costs
- Lost income due to the inability to work
- Reduced future earning capacity
- Medications, medical equipment, and supplies
- Future medical care and treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a limb, scarring, or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium for a spouse or partner
Depending on the circumstances, victims of pedestrian accidents may also be eligible for punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages. These may be applicable when the at-fault driver demonstrated recklessness, intentional harm, or engaged in a hit-and-run incident.
The Role of Your Columbia Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian crash, seeking the assistance of a Columbia pedestrian accident lawyer can significantly benefit your situation. Here's how these legal professionals can support you after an accident:
- Legal Guidance: A pedestrian accident lawyer will provide you with essential legal guidance. They will explain your rights, assess the merits of your case, and guide you through the necessary legal processes.
- Determining Liability: Establishing liability is crucial in personal injury cases. Your attorney will work to determine who is at fault for the accident, whether it's the driver, a government entity responsible for road maintenance, or another party. Once they determine who is responsible for your injuries, they can hold them accountable for your damages.
- Dealing with Insurance Companies: Dealing with Insurance Companies: Your lawyer will take care of communications with insurance companies on your behalf. Lawyers are skilled negotiators who will strongly advocate for your rights and ensure that you aren't taken advantage of by insurance adjusters looking to minimize their payouts.
- Calculating Damages: Pedestrian accident lawyers have experience in evaluating the damages you may be entitled to receive. They will ensure that your claim seeks fair and just compensation for all your losses.
- Filing Legal Documents: The legal process involves filing various documents and meeting specific deadlines. A pedestrian accident lawyer will manage all the necessary paperwork, filing your documents properly and within the required time frames.
- Negotiating Settlements: Victims and at-fault parties resolve most pedestrian accident cases in South Carolina through the settlement process. Your attorney will negotiate with the other party's insurer to secure a fair settlement. If you and the other party cannot reach a settlement, your lawyer will likely take your case to court.
- Litigation Support: If your case goes to court, your attorney will provide strong representation. They will present your case before a judge and jury, arguing for the compensation you deserve based on the evidence and applicable laws.
- Emotional Support: Parties resolve most pedestrian accident cases in South Carolina through the settlement process. Your attorney will negotiate with the other party's insurer to secure a fair settlement.
- Securing Maximum Compensation: Ultimately, the goal of a pedestrian accident lawyer is to secure the maximum compensation possible for your injuries and losses. They will fight for your rights, ensuring you receive fair and just financial recovery.
By enlisting the services of a Columbia personal injury attorney, you can alleviate the burden of your legal case and focus on your recovery while still pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Contact a pedestrian lawyer today to get your claim started. Case evaluations are always free, so you have nothing to lose by learning about your legal options after a pedestrian injury today.