Pedestrian accidents are among the most dangerous traffic accidents. When a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian can suffer life-altering injuries and disabilities. An injured pedestrian may seek compensation from the at-fault driver for medical expenses, long-term care, and loss of income due to their injuries.
However, the amount of compensation a pedestrian might get for an accident claim will depend on the severity of the pedestrian’s injuries, the kind of medical care they need, whether their injuries result in temporary or permanent disability, and the availability of insurance coverage.
When a pedestrian gets hit by a careless or reckless driver, they may face challenges in recovering the financial relief they need. A knowledgeable, experienced pedestrian accident attorney can help injured pedestrians pursue legal options for recovering compensation and advocate for their rights and interests throughout the claims process.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 60,577 pedestrians suffered injuries in traffic accidents nationwide in one recent year, an 11-percent increase from the previous year. In addition, 7,388 pedestrians died from injuries sustained in traffic accidents that year, a 12.5-percent increase from the previous year and the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1981.
Traffic accidents killed pedestrians every 71 minutes on average and injured pedestrians every nine minutes on average that year. Pedestrians accounted for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities but only 2 percent of all traffic crash-related injury cases. About 15 percent of all children 14 and younger killed in traffic accidents that year died in pedestrian crashes.
Furthermore, around 16 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in accidents at intersections, while three-quarters of fatalities occurred in accidents at road locations outside intersections. Nearly one-quarter of all pedestrian fatalities occurred in hit and run accidents.
Since pedestrians have no protection from injury in collisions with motor vehicles, even a low-speed pedestrian accident can cause life-altering injuries, especially if a vehicle runs over a pedestrian or a pedestrian gets trapped underneath the vehicle.
Common injuries suffered by pedestrians in collisions with vehicles include:
- Lacerations, abrasions, road rash, or degloving injuries
- Broken bones
- Dislocated joints
- Ligament, tendon, or muscle injuries or tears
- Neck and back injuries, including whiplash and herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Facial injuries and scarring
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic amputation or limb loss
What Compensation Might You Recover in a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
If you suffer injuries following a collision with a motor vehicle while walking down the street, you might have the right to pursue compensation for the expenses or losses you sustain due to your injuries.
Pedestrian accident compensation can include money for:
- Costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation, including EMS services, emergency room care, hospitalization, surgeries, prescriptions, pain management care, medical or mobility equipment, and physical or occupational therapy
- Costs of care and support for temporary or permanent disabilities, including home health care, housekeeping, or home renovations to install disability accommodations
- Loss of income from missed time from work or reduced earning capacity while recovering from injuries
- Loss of future earning capacity and job benefits if you develop permanent disabilities that prevent you from working
- Physical pain and emotional distress and trauma
- Reduced quality of life caused by disabilities or visible, permanent scarring and disfigurement
Factors Affecting the Value of a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Because every pedestrian accident involves unique facts and circumstances, the amount of money an injured pedestrian might recover from a driver who hit them will depend on:
- The severity of injuries suffered by the pedestrian: The type and severity of injuries sustained by a victim in a pedestrian accident may have the most significant effect on the value of the pedestrian’s compensation claim. More severe injuries usually result in longer, more expensive recovery and have a higher risk of temporarily or permanently disabling an injured pedestrian.
- The duration of medical recovery: A longer course of treatment and rehabilitation usually involves higher costs, which may entitle an injured pedestrian to more compensation in an accident claim. An injured pedestrian might also have the right to recover compensation for other expenses related to their care, including home health services or other personal assistance.
- Whether injuries or disabilities affect a pedestrian’s ability to work: When a pedestrian’s accident injuries prevent them from working or earning as much as they did before the accident, they might have the right to obtain reimbursement for their ongoing and future losses of income and job benefits.
- Whether a pedestrian’s injuries result in permanent disabilities: A pedestrian who continues to suffer from disabilities due to their injuries might seek compensation in a legal claim for financial and personal losses resulting from those disabilities. Financial relief might include money for long-term care and assistance or reduced enjoyment/quality of life.
- The number of liable parties: Although liability for most pedestrian accidents falls on the driver who hit the pedestrian, other parties may share liability for the pedestrian’s injuries and losses, such as the driver’s employer or the owner of the driver’s vehicle. When multiple parties have liability for an accident, the pedestrian has multiple potential sources of compensation.
- Whether a pedestrian might share any responsibility for causing the accident: An injured pedestrian’s financial recovery might depend in part on the allocation of liability for the accident, including whether any fault falls on the pedestrian’s shoulders.
- The insurance coverage or financial resources of the liable parties: For many drivers, their liability insurance coverage is the most significant financial resource they have to compensate an accident victim. When an at-fault driver has a higher policy limit on their liability insurance, an injured pedestrian has a better chance of obtaining compensation for all their losses.
- Whether the case goes to court or trial: How far a pedestrian accident case advances through litigation might affect the size of an injured pedestrian’s financial recovery. As a case progresses toward trial, parties might become more inclined to settle. Furthermore, if a case does reach trial, a pedestrian might recover more compensation from a jury than in a settlement.
Pursuing Insurance Coverage for a Pedestrian Accident
An injured pedestrian might file a claim against the liability insurance coverage of the driver who hit them. In South Carolina, drivers must have liability insurance coverage that provides at least $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident of bodily injury, and $25,000 of property damage coverage. However, drivers can purchase higher policy limits.
Depending on the circumstances, a pedestrian might have the option to file a claim with their auto insurance. For example, if a pedestrian gets hit by an uninsured driver, the pedestrian can turn to their insurance for uninsured motorist coverage. South Carolina requires auto insurance policies to provide uninsured motorist coverage equal to the bodily injury liability coverage purchased by a policyholder.
A pedestrian can also file an uninsured motorist claim after an accident with a hit and run driver since insurance companies treat unidentified hit and run drivers as uninsured motorists, regardless of whether the driver has coverage.
When a pedestrian suffers severe injuries in a collision with a vehicle driven by a motorist with the minimum liability coverage required by law, the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage might not fully compensate the pedestrian for their financial and personal losses. However, pedestrians with optional underinsured motorist coverage might have the option of turning to their insurance for compensation.
What Steps Should You Take After a Pedestrian Accident?
After suffering injuries in a pedestrian accident, you may have steps you can take to protect your legal rights and potentially improve the value of your pedestrian accident claim.
Things you should do following a pedestrian accident include:
- Remember to follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations and recovery plan. Deferring treatment might give the insurance company reason to believe you’ve recovered from your injuries or did not suffer as severe an injury as you initially claimed.
- Request copies of the medical records of your injury treatment and rehabilitation.
- Obtain a copy of the police accident report if officers responded to the collision.
- Keep any bills, invoices, or receipts for expenses you incur due to your injuries, including medical treatment, transportation, and other ancillary costs.
- Gather your pay stubs or income statements to calculate your lost earnings if you need to take time off work or temporarily transfer to a part-time or light-duty position that pays you less than you earned before the accident.
- Report the accident to your auto insurance provider to confirm whether you have coverage under your policy for expenses from the accident, including medical payments coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Finally, contact a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible after a collision with a motor vehicle to discuss your legal options for pursuing financial relief and to learn the next steps you should take to prepare for your pedestrian accident claim.
How Can a Lawyer Assist You With Pursuing a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
After getting hit by a driver, you may face challenges in pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses. The driver who hit you might deny liability for the accident, and insurance companies may try to minimize the value of your compensation claim. A lawyer can help you seek financial recovery and accountability for the injuries you sustained in a pedestrian accident.
While you focus on your medical treatment and rehabilitation, a pedestrian accident attorney can advocate for your rights and handle all the details of your legal claims, including:
- Recovering evidence for your accident claim, including police accident reports, surveillance or traffic camera footage, or witness testimony
- Identifying all potentially liable parties and evaluating options for pursuing financial recovery, including insurance coverage applicable to the accident
- Gathering documentation of your injuries and losses to determine what a fair financial recovery might look like in your case
- Providing you with legal advice and answers to your questions at each stage of your claim so you can make informed decisions
- Dealing with insurance adjusters or defense attorneys on your behalf so you can devote more of your time and energy to your injury recovery
- Seeking fair compensation in a settlement or, if appropriate, pursuing your claims in court
Injuries Suffered in a Pedestrian Accident Can Affect the Compensation Available in a Claim
A pedestrian injured in a collision with a motor vehicle could obtain compensation for injuries and losses caused by the accident. The amount of compensation that an injured pedestrian might recover may depend on various factors, including the severity of the pedestrian’s injuries, the cost of their medical recovery, whether those injuries result in disabilities, and the availability of insurance coverage.
Whether an injured pedestrian pursues an insurance claim or files a legal action against an at-fault driver, they might improve their chances of successfully recovering fair compensation by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can identify all potential sources of compensation, including available insurance coverage.
A pedestrian accident lawyer can help an injured pedestrian seek the maximum compensation that accounts for all their ongoing and future losses.