Pedestrian accidents can cause a nearly limitless array of physical injuries. With nothing to protect them from the force of a collision, pedestrians who get hit by motor vehicles can suffer catastrophic or fatal trauma. Their injuries also invariably lead to emotional suffering and extreme financial difficulty.
Here’s a review of how pedestrian accidents can happen, the injuries they inflict, and how an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can handle obtaining compensation for their victims.
Dangers of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents should not happen. A motor vehicle should never strike someone walking on or near a road. When it happens, it’s usually a sign that the driver made a tragic, avoidable mistake. Any driving behavior that runs the risk of causing a pedestrian crash will usually also violate traffic laws because many of those laws exist to prevent harm to vulnerable road users.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6,500 pedestrians died, and an estimated 55,000 suffered injuries in traffic accidents during a recent year. Pedestrian accidents can happen anywhere motor vehicles share a stretch of road with people on foot. They’re widespread at urban intersections and crosswalks, on rural roads that lack sidewalks or adequate shoulders, and in busy parking lots.
Common Pedestrian Crash Injuries
Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians pose a high risk of causing catastrophic or fatal injuries. The impact tends to throw the pedestrian victim violently to the ground or onto the hood or roof of the vehicle. A car, truck, bus, or motorcycle can inflict devastating trauma even when it hits a pedestrian at low speed. Few pedestrians escape getting hit by a motor vehicle without significant injuries, including the following.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when someone suffers a blow to the head or body that shakes or deforms the brain, damages brain tissue, or interrupts normal brain function. Pedestrian crashes commonly cause TBIs, often resulting from a victim’s head hitting the vehicle or hard pavement.
TBIs range in severity from survivable concussions to fatal brain damage. But any brain trauma, no matter its severity, holds the potential to cause profound disruption in the victim’s life. Pedestrians who sustain traumatic brain injuries can suffer from severe impairments that prevent them from having jobs, going to school, or living independently. They may need years of physical, emotional, and occupational therapy to regain even some of the brain function they lost in the pedestrian crash.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury (SCI) consists of any direct damage to or indirect impairment of the spinal cord that disrupts its normal function. The spinal cord carries signals between the brain and the body. An SCI disrupts those signals, causing weakness, paralysis, or loss of bodily function.
SCIs often occur in pedestrian accidents when the collision causes the victim to land awkwardly on their neck or back. The impact severs or damages the cord directly or causes injuries that interfere with its functioning. Pedestrians who sustain SCIs may face a lifetime of expensive medical needs that can cost millions,according to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Lower Extremity Injuries
The victim’s lower extremities and hip often sustain severe trauma in a pedestrian accident. The height of a passenger car’s bumper roughly aligns with an adult’s knees, making the legs the initial point of impact in many cases. The initial blow can shatter leg or hip bones, as can the secondary trauma when the victim lands on the road.
A pedestrian’s leg and hip injuries in an accident can result in permanent disabilities. The extensive repairs commonly for a complex fracture can weaken the victim’s lower body, alter their gait, or affect their circulation. In especially severe cases, doctors may need to amputate an affected limb to save the victim’s life. As a result, pedestrian victims frequently lose the ability to work in a wide range of jobs or to engage in physical activity.
Lacerations, Puncture Wounds, and Road Rash
Sharp objects and the rough road surface can inflict significant trauma when a motor vehicle knocks a pedestrian to the ground or into roadside features like trees or fences. A pedestrian’s skin has nothing but clothing to protect it from these hazards. When that fabric rips and tears, exposed tissue can sustain deep cuts and abrasions that bleed profusely and become embedded with infection-causing dirt and debris.
Even when lacerations, puncture wounds, and road rash heal, they commonly leave behind disfiguring scars. Pedestrian accident victims frequently struggle with the emotional impact of these injuries, which can also have numerous implications for their social lives and career opportunities.
Internal Trauma and Organ Damage
The impact of the collision in a pedestrian accident can also cause severe internal trauma and damage to vital organs. These injuries often occur when the accident involves an SUV, pickup, or another tall vehicle that initially strikes a pedestrian in the torso rather than the legs. For example, the impact may break a victim’s ribs and puncture their lung or spleen. Severe internal injuries can also happen when a vehicle runs over a pedestrian after knocking them to the ground.
Internal injuries threaten to alter every aspect of a victim’s life, such as physical fitness, diet and nutrition, or ability to fight disease and infection. Victims may have to change their lifestyles to accommodate these impacts, which can also take a heavy toll on their finances.
Assorted Orthopedic Injuries
It’s the rare pedestrian accident that doesn’t cause some orthopedic injury, such as a bone fracture, joint dislocation, or torn ligament. With time and proper care, these injuries can heal. But they nevertheless inflict severe pain and inconvenience that can disrupt a person’s life and ability to work or go to school.
Who owes you damages for your pedestrian accident injuries?
Anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentional misconduct caused your pedestrian accident may owe you damage. Others with legal obligations to answer for an at-fault party’s actions, such as insurance companies, may also have to pay you compensation. You generally have the right to seek compensation from all of them simultaneously. You don’t usually have to pick just one party to sue for damages.
A skilled pedestrian accident lawyer can review your case and identify all parties who may have a legal duty to pay you compensation. Typically, the driver of the vehicle that struck you will have liability. But others may also share that liability or bear it entirely. For example, you may also have a claim for damages against:
- The driver’s employer, if a commercial or work vehicle struck you;
- A government entity or private property owner responsible for unreasonably dangerous road conditions, signage, or markings that contributed to the cause of the accident;
- An automotive manufacturer, if the car that hit you experienced a mechanical failure that led to the collision; or
- A bar, restaurant, or social host that served alcohol to an underage drunk driver who hit you.
These are just a few examples, but they illustrate the many potential payment sources for your pedestrian accident injuries. Consulting with an experienced lawyer is the most reliable way to learn who might have liability to you.
What compensation can a lawyer get for you?
You deserve compensation for the full scope of physical, emotional, and financial harm you suffered in a pedestrian accident. A lawyer’s primary job is to get you as much money as possible so that you can pay your expenses and rebuild after the trauma of getting hit by a motor vehicle. Through an insurance claim, lawsuit, or other legal action, a lawyer could potentially get you paid for your:
- Past and future medical expenses related to treating your pedestrian accident injuries and any health complications they cause;
- Past and future non-medical costs of dealing and living with your injuries, such as the expense of modifying your home to accommodate a disability or of hiring someone to help with everyday tasks like transportation or childcare while you heal;
- The income you didn’t earn and job benefits you didn’t accrue because you missed work while healing;
- Vacation and sick days you used while out of work;
- Loss of future earning potential and career opportunities due to a temporary or permanent disability caused by your pedestrian accident;
- Physical pain and discomfort of your injuries and medical treatments;
- Accident-related emotional distress or mental health challenges like PTSD, anxiety, or depression;
- Loss of independence and diminished quality of life; and
- Struggles from living with scarring, disfigurement, limb loss, or loss of bodily function.
If the party who caused your pedestrian accident also engaged in extremely reckless or intentional misconduct, a lawyer might also convince a court to award you punitive damages.
There’s usually no fixed or minimum sum you can count on receiving for your pedestrian accident injuries. The amount recoverable can depend on various factors, including the severity of your pedestrian accident injuries, the strength of the evidence, the skill of your lawyer, and the financial capacity of the at-fault party and their insurance company to pay. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to learn about the range of payments you might receive for your pedestrian accident injuries.
Compensation for a Fatal Pedestrian Accident
Some pedestrian accidents cause fatal injuries. In those cases, the surviving spouse, partner, parent, child, or close family member of the deceased victim may have the legal right to pursue compensation for their loss in a wrongful death lawsuit. A pedestrian accident attorney can represent their interests and secure compensation that might include payment for:
- Loss of the victim’s income, inheritance, financial support, or household services;
- Loss of the victim’s companionship, consortium, society, or parental guidance;
- The victim’s pain and suffering before death (in some states);
- A surviving spouse or family member’s emotional anguish (in some states);
- Accident-related medical and other expenses the victim incurred before death;
- Funeral and burial costs.
Lawyers who handle pedestrian accident wrongful death cases understand that nothing can truly make up for a loss of life. But the money they secure for grieving loved ones can provide essential financial support to rebuild after a tragedy.
What a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
A pedestrian accident can upend your life, saddling you with severe injuries and crushing financial difficulty. During this challenging time, you need an advocate and ally who will go to bat for you against insurance companies and at-fault parties. And you need an advisor and counselor who can guide you through this confusing and upsetting period of your life. In short, you need a pedestrian accident lawyer.
A pedestrian accident lawyer can handle numerous tasks to get you compensation and keep you on track. They include:
- Investigating your accident to identify all parties who may owe you damages;
- Analyzing insurance policies to determine coverage that will pay your expenses and losses;
- Handling all interactions with insurance companies on your behalf;
- Counseling you about significant life, legal, and financial decisions that might affect your rights;
- Gathering evidence to support a claim for damages;
- Preparing, filing, and litigating insurance claims and lawsuits seeking payment for your injuries;
- Negotiating settlements of your claims when possible;
- Advising you whether to accept or reject settlement offers; and
- Fighting for your rights in court, including at trial when necessary.
Pedestrian accident lawyers routinely work on contingency. That means you don’t have to worry about affording their services. They won’t charge you upfront or by the hour. Instead, they’ll only receive a fee if they win your case.
Contact a Skilled Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone close to you recently suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, seek legal help immediately. Regardless of what type of injury you sustained, a pedestrian accident lawyer can handle getting you compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in New York today for a free consultation to learn more about your rights.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.