By: William C. Head, Pedestrian Accident Attorney and Injury Lawyer in Atlanta Georgia
Almost daily, news stories a pedestrian injury or fatality from a car accident in Cobb County or Fulton County occur. Common causes of pedestrian accidents include a speeding motor vehicle causing the personal injury or death.
Many nighttime accidents near me occur merely due to lack of visibility. Yet, statistics show that most occur in daylight hours or at dusk. Some are not caused by an automobile or truck driving recklessly or from distracted driving by the negligent driver.
Occasionally, a story about a police chase, pedestrian struck or killed will be posted. When no witnesses or roadside video camera footage are available, assigning fault for the accident can be highly difficult for investigators. When the pedestrian is at fault the driver's insurance company may decline to pay the claim. Example: darting into the road or going against the crossing sign warnings.
Some stories have the police saying they found no identification for the victim in the pedestrian crossing case. For the lucky victims, broken bones (including compound fractures) are common. But many accidents involving pedestrians create traumatic brain injury or paralysis. Plus, about 15% of the people struck die from their injuries. Some victims are not immediately killed from the car-pedestrian crash. Thus, some will have an excellent pain and suffering compensation claim for his or her survivors.
Pedestrian Hit by Car Insurance Claim
The personal injury attorney near me handling a wrongful death case knows that these claims can be tough. The pedestrian crossing a public street or parking lot has some responsibility, too. A relative of an injured victim will often ask a pedestrian accident lawyer, "Do pedestrians have the right of way?"
A pedestrian hit by a car usually sues the driver of the vehicle that stuck him or her. In the 1980s, the author handled a claim against the City of Athens relating to unsafe sidewalks. Similarly, defective or missing traffic control devices may have played a role in the collision.
Even hiring the very best pedestrian hit by car attorney is not bulletproof. He or she still needs to be able to prove fault and liability of that motorist, motorcycle rider or biker.
The following 7 pedestrian safety questions will help frame that answer.
- Was the citizen who was struck in a pedestrian walkway?
- Was the victim directly within the crosswalk, or just near it? (Police try to find physical evidence of where was the pedestrian struck.)
- Did the pedestrian have the right of way, from an illuminate pedestrian crossing sign?
- Did the pedestrian look for any oncoming cars or other vehicles? Be aware that many cell phone users do NOT look before walking. Some people talking on their cell device merely listen for oncoming vehicles, not expecting a car with a silent, hybrid engine. Plus, except in cities that have banned electric scooters, pedestrians risk injury from these careless operators. Plus, a bicyclist silently pedaling at 25 miles per hour could be another "oncoming vehicle".
- Was the street in question one that is without any signals or pedestrian safety equipment? The pedestrian who struck may have been unable to find a defined path for pedestrians.
- If the driver was committing a traffic violation (crime), is that proof available from premises cameras? Or, did an eyewitness stay at the scene. In some front-end damage cases, data may be captured by a deployed air big EDR (event data recorder). This may answer the speed and braking question.
- Did the driver who struck the victim STAY at the scene or drive away? When an obvious collision with a person has happened, the driver can't claim lack of knowledge. So, did that driver commit a hit and run felony?
We must start with the question that many ask: "Do pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way?" That answer is NO.
However, Georgia laws place a DUTY of "due care" on all motorists who are traveling in areas where foot traffic exists. In Cobb County GA at the Marietta Square in downtown Marietta GA, people cross streets mid-block all the time. Most are not using a designated crosswalk.
You will find that most streets in metro Atlanta have no pedestrian sign in place. This issue becomes a question of fact as to the two parties' "due care" being properly exercised.
In downtown Atlanta GA, the electric scooters often travel the wrong way down 1-way streets. Such illegal driving can blindside a person stepping off the curb and looking the other direction for oncoming traffic. The scooter operator is at fault for violating Georgia law by going the wrong way on a one-way thoroughfare.
How Are Damages for Pedestrian Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
Like a car crash, the personal injury claim for an injured or deceased pedestrian follows the same rules for recovery. This is because tort laws are designed to "make the victim" whole, as much as monetary damages can do that. If the victim lives, these damages can include any provable hospital and medical costs, Plus, if the victim had a job, lost wages since the injury may be recoverable.
Future projected income resulting from being unable to resume work is another item to recover.
When a driver is proven to have been criminally negligent (i.e., DUI), punitive damages may be recoverable. However, these are meant to punish the wrongdoer. This compensation usually will not be paid by a liability insurance company.
Furthermore, Section 523 of the United States bankruptcy Code blocks debt created by a DUI or other intentional conduct from being discharged in a Chapter 7. This means that the negligent driver must pay even when financially destitute, and possibly for the remainder of his life.
Plus, our civil justice laws permit a jury to award a fair amount for pain and suffering. The dollar amount awarded can be surprisingly high when the best trial lawyers are at work. Their goal is to fully display the trauma and painful rehabilitation process. The family member of a loved one killed in a pedestrian accident can also pursue a wrongful death claim. The rules of who can bring the wrongful death claim are controlled by Georgia statutory laws.
Another possible category of recovery can come from punitive damages. These damages are only recoverable a serious deviation from the normal rules of safe driving occurs. Egregious conduct is the only place these additional damages may be sought.
Specifically, if the at-fault driver was drunk, or stoned when driving, this is a solid case. Likewise, if the driver left the scene of the accident, the case may support a punitive damage claim. Proof of driving recklessly can trigger a punitive damage award. So, traveling 25 mph over the posted limit is substantial proof of carelessness.
Searching for a Pedestrian Accident Law Firm
For a FREE consultation with a pedestrian accident lawyer, call our 24-hour number at 404-567-5515. Our award-winning Atlanta personal injury attorneys are ready to investigate your pedestrian injury claim. Whether your case is for serious bodily injury (or the death) of a family member from an accident, our law group can help. Limit your search to civil lawyers near me with top attorney ratings.