Where a traffic incident involves a vehicle striking a pedestrian, injuries can be extensive and long-lasting. For that reason, a civil suit stemming from such an accident often involves damages that are slightly different from those suffered in accidents involving two or more vehicles.
The issue of being covered for medical expenses is a primary concern, leaving plaintiffs wondering just how a civil suit will affect the costs resulting from the accident.
Can Pedestrians Be Compensated For Future Medical Expenses?
In the case where a driver hits a pedestrian with his vehicle, it’s assumed that the least obligation of that driver is to pay the pedestrian’s medical expenses. It’s a common and rarely disputed facet of civil lawsuits, but that doesn’t mean complications can’t arise. It might be argued by the defense that only immediate injuries, directly resulting from the incident, should be covered.
While that might make sense at first, that doesn’t cover the full scope of medical treatment. An injury may require multiple treatments, such as is the case with a limb that has been broken in several places. In that situation, healing the limb properly will entail multiple surgeries, spanning months or even years. Civil law allows plaintiffs to recover damages for present and future medical damages, as long as they stem from that same incident.
In addition to medical expenses, a pedestrian may be able to recover damages in a civil suit for:
- Lost wages due to the accident
- Pain and suffering
- The loss of a normal life
An example of a loss of normal life might be that the accident rendered the pedestrian paralyzed or caused a limb to be severed. All of these consequences are the result of the proximate cause of the accident.
If a Pedestrian Dies
In the event that the pedestrian dies as a result of the accident, the family can initiate the lawsuit. in that case, the family can sue for economic losses brought about by the death of the accident victim. Family members can also sue for the pain and suffering brought about by the loss of their loved one.
Additionally, juries have the ability to award punitive damages in cases where the accident was severe enough to cause extreme injuries or a loss of life.
The Importance of Acting Quickly
If you’ve been hit by a vehicle, it’s important to act quickly to preserve your rights, even though you may be feeling dazed and frustrated.
In the first days following the incident, it’s important to write down as much as you can remember about the incident because you’ll quickly begin to forget vital details. In addition to creating a narrative about the accident itself, detail your injuries and any other losses you have suffered.
Going along with this documentation, collect as much physical evidence as you can, pertaining to the accident. This includes photographs of the location of the accident and any documentation that establishes who was at fault and what physical damage was done. Also, try to locate witnesses able to help you by testifying about the accident.
What to Expect
As a pedestrian, you’re not completely free of responsibility in accidents with vehicles. For instance, pedestrians are obligated to follow traffic rules, just as the operators of motor vehicles. If it’s found that your actions contributed to the accident, the jury may limit the number of damages you receive. For this reason, it’s important to follow safe pedestrian practices, whenever crossing intersections.
You may be contacted by insurance companies fairly quickly, offering you a settlement for the accident. The insurance company’s primary goal is to save as much money as they can, which means giving you a low estimate for your damages. They may even look for ways to justify not paying you at all. Before agreeing to anything, it’s recommended that you consult with a personal injury attorney.
As attorneys work on a contingency in these types of cases, an initial consultation won’t cost you anything and will give you a clearer picture of your chances of recovering damages. When meeting with the attorney for the first time, bring along the documentation and evidence you collected. The more facts you can supply, the better the attorney can evaluate your specific situation.