Pedestrian accidents are more common than you might think. In 2019, over 6,000 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 76,000 pedestrians were injured nationwide.
If you're a driver involved in a car accident with a pedestrian, you're probably worried about the pedestrian and yourself. You could be sued in civil court or even criminally prosecuted for your role in the accident. Here's what you need to know to protect yourself.
You may or may not be at fault for the collision with the pedestrian. If you are at fault, you're legally responsible (liable) for the accident and you (or your auto insurer) will likely have to pay for the pedestrian's accident-related losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
No two pedestrian-car accidents are exactly alike, so it's impossible to say how much an average pedestrian-car accident claim is worth. But here are some of the factors that adjusters and lawyers use to figure out the value of a claim.
Unsurprisingly, the nature and extent of the pedestrian's injuries play a huge role in the value of a pedestrian-car insurance settlement or court award. The more serious the pedestrian's injuries, the higher the value of the claim. "Seriousness" is typically measured by many factors, including:
Adjusters also consider the body part affected by the accident. A pedestrian who experiences a brain or eye injury is likely to get more money than a pedestrian who injures a non-dominant arm, for example.
Most people assume that when a driver hits a pedestrian, the driver is automatically at fault for the accident, but that's not always the case. Pedestrians, like drivers, are required to obey traffic laws. Pedestrians who don't follow the rules of the road can be entirely or partially to blame for accidents too.
For example, let's say you're driving down a road in your neighborhood. You're following the speed limit and paying close attention to the road when a jaywalking pedestrian darts out in front of you. You don't have time to stop or swerve before you hit the pedestrian. In that situation, you might not owe the pedestrian anything. If the pedestrian is 100% responsible for the accident, the pedestrian might end up owing you if you're injured or your car is damaged in the accident.
A more common scenario goes something like this: You're driving down a road in your neighborhood. You're going over the speed limit when a jaywalking pedestrian darts out in front of you and you collide. You and the pedestrian are both to blame for the accident. The higher the pedestrian's share of the fault in causing the accident, the smaller the pedestrian's settlement or court award is likely to be.
Nearly all states require drivers and car owners to have liability insurance to pay for injuries and property damage they cause on the road. But car insurance policies only pay up to the policy limits.
Pedestrians who are hit by cars can be seriously injured, disabled, or even killed. If a pedestrian's accident-related losses (called damages) exceed your policy limits, the pedestrian can file a civil lawsuit against you and come after your cash and assets.
The majority of personal injury claims, including car accident claims, are settled through the insurance claim process. If you don't have enough insurance coverage or your insurer refuses to make a fair settlement offer, the pedestrian might file a car accident lawsuit against you.
Even after a lawsuit is filed, the case can (and likely will) settle before trial. Trials are time-consuming, expensive, and risky for both parties. If you do end up in court, here's what you can expect when a car accident case goes to trial.
If you hit a pedestrian with your car, you're probably feeling overwhelmed with worry about the pedestrian and your own legal predicament. Before you make any decisions or talk to anyone about the accident, talk to a lawyer.
Pedestrian-car accidents are more likely to involve serious injuries than typical car accidents. A lawyer can take some of the stress out of the insurance claim process and defend you in court if necessary.