Pedestrian Knockdown

Since pedestrians have no protection from injury when they are struck by a vehicle, the notion of a “minor” pedestrian accident is a fallacy. Even a small compact car weighs 3,000 pounds, so pedestrians tend to suffer catastrophic injuries even in crashes at low rates of speed. When a motor vehicle slams into the human body, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, spinal cord injuries (SCIs), amputation of limbs, impairment of vital organs or wrongful death are far too common. Pedestrians hit by cars tend to experience permanent debilitating injuries and disfigurement even if they survive their injuries. But with the help of an experienced pedestrian injury attorney at Parker Waichman LLP, you can get compensation that makes it easier to heal and move forward after your accident.


Navigating Around Insurance Company Traps For The Unwary

 Some of the tactics the insurance company might use to challenge your legal claim include:

  • Shifting Blame: Insurers routinely try to blame pedestrians for causing their own injuries by failing to exercise reasonable care to avoid injury. The defense of comparative negligence frequently will be based on the claim that the pedestrian darted into the road so close to the driver that they had no time to stop the vehicle. If this claim is successful, the pedestrian’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
  • Stall, Stall, Stall: Insurance companies will purposefully delay settlements in order to keep the funds invested so they may earn a financial return and increase their profits. They do this while being completely aware of the hardships that an injured pedestrian faces as their medical costs mount and their ability to earn income is reduced. They realize that the injured pedestrian will feel an increasing amount of pressure to settle for less than the full value of their claim if it means they can receive compensation sooner.
  • Disputing the Cause of the Injury: There are pedestrian accident cases where the insurance company has minimal opportunity to dispute liability. For example, the driver might proceed into an intersection crosswalk against a red light. The insurance company might use multiple approaches to accomplish this goal. Based on past medical records or accidents, the insurer might claim the medical condition is entirely the result of a past injury. If you delay obtaining medical attention, the carrier might even try to blame your injuries on an event that occurred after the pedestrian accident.
  • Requesting a Recorded Statement: An investigator for the insurance carrier usually will contact you seeking a recorded statement. Although the insurer’s representative might justify this statement based on the need to evaluate your claim, the actual objective is to find a defense to liability or to uncover facts that support a reduction in your claim value.
  • Seeking a Premature Settlement: When liability is relatively clear, the insurance company might offer a relatively quick settlement offer. This lowball offer might be intended to either resolve the case before you complete your medical treatment or retain legal representation. If you settle the case before your course of treatment is complete, you will be asked to sign a general release that waives your right to injuries or claims you do not even know exist. When you are without legal advice, the insurance company will try to exploit your lack of experience in determining the value of your claim.
  • Contesting the Severity of Injuries: Insurance companies love the phrase “low impact collision.” Representatives of the insurer often try to persuade unrepresented parties to accept a lowball settlement offer. This contention by insurers is particularly specious because pedestrians have no protection when struck by a vehicle, so serious injury frequently occurs even when a vehicle is traveling at slow rates of speed.
  • Asking for Execution of Documents: Insurance carriers might ask you to execute documents that the insurer claims will be used to facilitate processing of your claim. One such document is a consent to release of information. While some income information or medical history might be relevant, this type of release is overly broad and might result in disclosure of sensitive but irrelevant information. Ultimately, the purpose of this request is to obtain information that can be used against you.

Common Causes Of Pedestrian Accidents

The lion’s share of personal injury pedestrian accidents are caused by the carelessness or lack of attention of motorists. Sometimes, however, these accidents can be the result of negligence by a third party.

In our decades of experience representing pedestrians, the lawyers at our firm have seen that many factors can cause these potentially fatal accidents, such as:

  • Drowsy drivers
  • Vehicles turning left
  • Speeding
  • Defective vehicles (e.g., nearly silent electric cars)
  • Failure to exercise caution in pedestrian areas
  • Distracted driving
  • Ignoring stop signs and traffic signals
  • Unsafe roadways and intersections

Lax Pedestrian Safety Efforts Leave Vulnerable Populations Exposed To Harm

The pedestrian safety organization Smart Growth America provides an annual publication entitled “Dangerous by Design,” which focuses on a range of pedestrian issues. According to this publication, motor vehicles claim the lives of an average of 13 pedestrians per day. While you might assume that cars rarely run over people who are on foot, the truth is that pedestrian accidents cause the deaths of 7.2 times more people than natural disasters.

Pedestrian accident rates are higher among vulnerable populations. Seniors age 65 and older face a 50 percent higher risk of being hit by a car when walking than younger adults. Both minorities and the elderly tend to be overrepresented in pedestrian fatality statistics. Although people of color account for around 40 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 46.1 percent of pedestrian fatalities. In some geographic regions, the disparity is even more startling. Native Americans account for only five percent of the North Dakota population, for example, but they account for 38 percent of pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian fatality rates also are higher in low-income areas.

While this data is impacted to some degree by the higher number of pedestrians among these populations, this factor does not come close to accounting for the entire disparity. Inadequate pedestrian infrastructure, which might include a lack of crosswalks, a lack of pedestrian traffic signals, poorly located bus stops, and other factors, also can contribute to pedestrian tragedies. Lack of investment in pedestrian safety features by public entities or unsafe designs can place those on foot in peril that would be easily preventable. Poor urban areas often are located near arterial roads, bus stopping points, and other locations of pedestrian activity. These types of traffic-related deaths occur without reasonable care by all parties involved in the street design process, such as local elected officials, federal policymakers, and transportation engineers. A focus on facilitating high speeds for vehicles while ignoring pedestrian safety often leads to dangerous areas for those walking, jogging, and running.

Who Is Responsible For Pedestrian Injuries?

Although negligent drivers are usually the primary cause of most pedestrian accidents, third parties also cause these incidents. Our pedestrian accident law firm carefully investigates the facts and circumstances of our clients’ cases to identify all potential defendants and relevant insurance policies.

Some potential third parties who might be financially responsible for pedestrian injuries include:

  • Public entities for roadway defects
  • Car and component manufacturers for defective vehicles (e.g., brakes that fail to engage)
  • Passengers for distracting a driver
  • Vehicle owners for negligently entrusting their car to a driver they know or should know is incompetent

Once we have recognized a potential defendant, we conduct an investigation and initiate the discovery process to confirm all potential sources of insurance coverage to pay a judgment or settlement. If the responsible party does not have insurance, we might conduct an asset search to determine if the party has another means to satisfy a judgment.

Understanding Your Legal Rights As A Pedestrian

While the rights and obligations of pedestrians can vary a bit by state, here are some common provisions of pedestrian accident law:

  • Pedestrian Right-of-Way in Crosswalks: Motor vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks unless the intersection has a traffic control signal or a pedestrian overpass or tunnel exists. However, pedestrians are prohibited from suddenly darting into traffic from a place of safety like a curb if it will not allow an approaching motorist sufficient time to stop. A vehicle approaching a crosswalk may not pass a vehicle that has stopped to let a pedestrian cross the street at an intersection.
  • Pedestrian Right-of-Way on Sidewalks: Vehicles entering or emerging at a building, driveway, private road or alleyway must yield to pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians Crossing at Places Other Than Intersections: When crossing mid-block or at other non-intersections, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to drivers.
  • Pedestrian Position in Crosswalks: Pedestrians must use the right half of the crosswalk when practical.
  • Pedestrians Walking in the Roadway: If a roadway is equipped with a sidewalk, pedestrians may not lawfully walk on the adjacent road.
  • Pedestrians Walking on a Roadway Without Sidewalks: When pedestrians walk on a highway or other roadway without sidewalks, pedestrians must walk on the shoulder or left side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic as far to the left as is practical, especially if a vehicle approaches.

Contact Us for your free consultation at The Cakani Law Firm 1-212-962-0500