Absentminded drivers can cause a severe auto collision when they fail to pay attention to the road. Pedestrians and runners are at high risk of injury due to distracted drivers. Pedestrians can sustain catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, organ damage, and loss of limb in an accident. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney could help you recover compensation for all of your injuries, as well as provide compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured. An experienced Indianapolis pedestrian lawyer could handle the legal elements of your case while you focus on your recovery.
What is a Pedestrian Accident?
A pedestrian accident is an accident involving someone negligently driving their vehicle causing a collision with a person. Pedestrian accidents can occur on the sidewalk, in the road, or in an open area where people and cars roam freely. A pedestrian accident can also involve bicyclists, who are often considered pedestrians, and motorcyclists.
While a pedestrian accident could result in the victim’s death, it might be as simple as bumping into a bicycle. No matter the severity of the accident, the injured party may recover compensation for their injuries or losses.
Injuries Suffered by Pedestrians Struck by Cars
The statistics associated with traffic accidents that involve drivers hitting pedestrians are shocking: each year, this type of incident accounts for about 60,000 injuries to pedestrian, as well as more than 4,000 deaths. Depending on the speed at which a car strikes someone walking near a road or intersection, those injuries can take a number of different forms.
The most common type of harm that pedestrian accidents lead to are injuries to the lower half of the body. In as many as 50 percent of pedestrian accidents leading to injury, the individuals struck experience substantial trauma below the waist in the form of ligament and muscle tears, fractures in the legs and/or pelvis, and/or deep lacerations.
In a little over one-third of all pedestrian accidents, injured pedestrians suffer injuries to their face, head, and/or neck, potentially leading to permanent consequences from traumatic brain or spine damage. Finally, a bit over one-fourth of pedestrian accidents resulting in injuries involve trauma to the upper extremities, especially focused on the arms and hands but potentially including the ribs and chest as well. Regardless of the specific kinds of injuries a pedestrian in Indianapolis experiences, a dedicated accident attorney could potentially help them pursue civil litigation over any injury severe enough to require professional medical care.
Who Could be Responsible for a Pedestrian Accident?
The person or party responsible for a pedestrian accident will change based on the situation. These accidents happen in a split second when a car swerves out of control. A motorist might not realize a pedestrian is crossing, or the pedestrian could be struck in a parking lot or open industrial area.
At times, pedestrians might step in potholes, trip over damaged concrete, or be struck when cars do not have enough room to turn without running over the curb. Road signage might force vehicles onto the sidewalk, or distracted drivers might not see a jogger even if that jogger is wearing reflective gear.
Proving Negligence in an Accident Case
When an accident occurs, the injured party may be able to recover compensation for their injuries. A seasoned Indianapolis pedestrian accident lawyer needs to prove negligence in order to recover compensation for the injured party. A local pedestrian accident attorney needs to prove:
- The offending party had a duty of care to uphold
- They did not uphold the duty of care
- The client was injured during the accident
- The defendant’s negligence or misconduct caused the accident.
If the plaintiff’s attorney is able to prove the various elements of negligence, they may be able to recover compensation for a wide range of damages.
Relevant Evidence in Pedestrian Accident Claims
Of course, knowing that someone else was responsible for an accident based on negligence and actually proving that they were during settlement negotiations or in a court trial are two very different things. It is generally necessary to have conclusive evidence of fault from a variety of sources in order to maximize a plaintiff’s chances of a positive case resolution.
Depending on the circumstances, relevant evidence might include photos and debris from the accident scene, reports filed by responding police officers, testimony from witnesses, footage from nearby surveillance and/or dashboard cameras, and even input from experts in the field of accident reconstruction. Assistance from an experienced Indianapolis lawyer is often crucial to tracking down, organizing, and effectively presenting evidence of liability during a pedestrian accident claim.
Compensation for Injuries and Damages
Depending on the severity of the accident, the injured party may be able to recover compensation for all of their damages including economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to the financial losses a person sustains following an accident. One of the most common types of recoverable economic damages include cost of medical expenses. Medical care provided is not the only type of expenses that is taken into consideration. Victims often need surgeries, medications, medical equipment, and physical therapy. Medical experts can explain how much this costs or the attending physician can submit cost estimates. Mental health counseling may also be required. In sum, economic damages include any expense the pedestrian incurred as a result of the accident that has a receipt.
Additionally, the injured party may be able to recover compensation for lost wages and lost earning capacity. The victim’s lost income must go beyond the money lost due to missed time at work. The victim may be disabled and unable to return to work. Even if the victim obtains another job, it will not pay the money they are accustomed to. Remuneration for lost income and earning potential helps victims remain financially secure even if they cannot work.
The injured party may also be eligible to recover compensation for their non-economic damages. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish and loss of consortium. Alleging non-economic damages is one of the biggest benefits a season attorney can provide because it is hard to quantify a good night’s sleep or the ability to partake in routine daily activities pain free.
The Possible Impact of Comparative Fault on Recovery
Given how much more likely pedestrians are to suffer serious harm in accidents compared to the drivers who hit them, it may seem reasonable to assume that defendant drivers always bear 100 percent of the blame for this kind of incident. However, just like in any other personal injury claim, it is possible for the injured plaintiff in a pedestrian crash case to bear partial liability for causing or worsening their own injuries, such as by stepping out into the road unexpectedly, crossing where there isn’t a crosswalk, or otherwise acting recklessly or carelessly to some extent.
Under Indiana Code §34-51-2-5, civil courts have the authority to reduce the value of a plaintiff’s final damage award proportionately based on their degree of fault for their own damages. For example, if a court found an injured party 20 percent liable for a pedestrian accident compared to the defendant driver’s 80 percent, that plaintiff would only be able to recover for 80 percent of the total value of their losses.
Even more importantly, IN Code §34-51-2-6 bars any plaintiff who bears a majority of the total fault for an accident, more than 50 percent, from recovering any compensation whatsoever for damages stemming from that incident, even if someone else was still partially to blame. Assistance from a skilled Indianapolis lawyer often makes a huge difference in ensuring that these sections of state law do not unfairly reduce the value of an injured pedestrian’s claim.
How Long Do Injured Pedestrians Have to File Suit?
Another important element of state law that prospective plaintiffs should be aware of is the statute of limitations applicable to most personal injury cases. According to IN Code §34-11-2-4, any civil action for “injury to person” have an effective filing deadline of two years after the accrual of the cause of action, which generally means that plaintiffs have a maximum of two years after discovering that they were hurt due to someone else’s negligence in which to start pursuing litigation against that negligent party.
There are very few exceptions to this rule, and failing to start the filing process before this deadline usually means that a court will throw the case out as soon as the defendant motions for them to do so. Additionally, anyone who was hit by an employee of a state or local government while they were performing some job-related duty may have even less time to pursue litigation, as well as more rules that may apply to recovery. A seasoned pedestrian accident lawyer in Indianapolis could explain all applicable regulations of this nature in detail during an initial consultation.
Discuss Your Options with an Indianapolis Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Pedestrians are no match for motor vehicles on the road. When a pedestrian is hit by an automobile they can sustain severe injuries. If you or a loved one were severely injured due to a motor vehicle as a pedestrian, you should retain the assistance of an experienced attorney. Call an Indianapolis pedestrian accident lawyer today.