If you were seriously injured by a vehicle while walking, you might be confused on what to do. The Washington Pedestrian Accident Guide was created by Edmonds personal injury attorney Cheryl Farrish to help residents earn their maximum settlement potential.
Being injured as a pedestrian is sometimes very serious and may even result in death. Unfortunately, insurance companies may not take these claims seriously because they occurred at lower speeds or in areas where accidents commonly happen, like driveways and parking lots.
Regardless of what an insurance company tells you, if you were injured in a car accident as a pedestrian, you might have a legal claim. Talking to an Edmonds pedestrian accident lawyer is the first step in exploring this option for your unique situation.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Roughly 11 percent of all transportation actually happens on foot. However, pedestrians are involved in 13 percent of all vehicle-related deaths. Why is there a disproportionate amount of fatalities? Perhaps it is because pedestrians have very little protection against oncoming traffic, combined with the fact that many drivers are simply not on the lookout for pedestrians as they should be.
Below are some of the most common reasons that pedestrian accidents happen.
Left-hand turns. Drivers that are turning left often have a terrible habit of not looking at what or who will be in their path as they make their turn. Left-hand turns are far more likely to result in accidents compared to right-hand turns, often because there is just more to look out for when you are turning left.
- One major culprit of pedestrian accidents is cell phones and other electronics. However, pedestrians should also refrain from using these devices while they are maneuvering through traffic as well.
- Drivers who operate their vehicle while intoxicated are far more likely to hit a pedestrian. Drunk drivers have a hard time focusing on the road around them and keep their gaze straight ahead. As a result, they often do not see pedestrians until they are directly in front of their vehicle. In fact, alcohol plays a part in roughly 15 percent of pedestrian collisions.
- Failure to yield. Pedestrians have the right of way in most situations. When a driver does not yield to a walker, it can result in a potentially fatal collision. Failing to yield is also associated with higher speed crashes, which increases the likelihood of serious or life-threatening
Keep in mind that you may have a legal claim, even if you may have been partially to blame for the collision. For example, if you were not in a crosswalk at the time of the accident, that may decrease your damages, but it often will not preclude you from starting a lawsuit.
An insurance company may try to downplay your damages in that type of situation, but you may still have a valid legal claim. A Washington pedestrian accident lawyer can help you walk through your options.
Does a Pedestrian Always Have the Right of Way?
Pedestrians often have the right of way in traffic, but this is not always the case. Knowing when you have the right of way as a walker is a helpful way to avoid most pedestrian accidents. A foot-traveler will have the right of way when:
- A traffic control device instructs them to walk
- They are crossing the street at an intersection, regardless of whether there is a marked crosswalk
- Walking in crosswalks or on sidewalks
Pedestrians cannot bolt out into traffic and expect that traffic will yield to them. In fact, pedestrians must yield to oncoming traffic at any point other than where there is a marked crosswalk or an intersection.
Nonetheless, vehicles must also exercise “due care” when pedestrians are present. They should take steps to avoid an accident, including sounding their horn, if necessary. If a driver is not careful or cautious and ends up causing you damage, you may have a legal claim for your losses.
Damages Available in a Pedestrian Accident Case
Many of the same damages available in a car accident are permitted in a vehicle-pedestrian accident. These include things like:
- Medical costs
- Lost time away from work
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Generally, there will be no property damage in a pedestrian case, but the other damages in a pedestrian accident can be very severe and add up quickly.
Injuries in a pedestrian accident can be severe. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Brain damage, including traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Back and spine injuries
Because a vehicle will often push you into another object, such as the ground, another car, or a tree, the chances for internal damage increase significantly. It is critical to get medical attention immediately after this type of accident. You may not be able to tell right away just how severely injured you are.
What Should I Do After a Pedestrian Accident?
You should treat your pedestrian accident just like a car accident. That means that your first priority should be to get medical help you if you need it. Then, gather information about the driver, including their license plate number, insurance, and contact information. You should also report the incident to the police. The investigating officer can help you gather this data as well.
Do not let the other driver talk you into allowing him or her to drive away. Even if it doesn’t seem like you are seriously injured right now, you may have internal injuries that may creep up later.
Calling the police to the scene will also increase the likelihood that the driver is cited for any error, such as failure to yield to a pedestrian. Having a police report that says that the driver was issued a citation for the very thing that caused your damages can be extremely helpful to your personal injury case.
The officer will also include general observations of the scene and speak with witnesses as well. This initial investigation often saves you and your pedestrian accident attorney time and effort when preparing your case. It may also help you settle with the insurance company for a more favorable amount as well. You should always err on the side of calling the police, even if you are unsure.
Frequently Asked Questions | Washington Pedestrian Accident Guide
What Should I Do After a Pedestrian Car Accident?
If you’ve been injured as a pedestrian in Washington in a car accident case, what you want to do is, at the very least is be able to track down the license plate number of the driver. I know that’s probably not your first priority, but it will become exceedingly difficult to track down that person unless you have at least a license plate.
The second thing you want to do is seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need to go to the emergency room, but if you don’t, at least go to a primary care or walk-in clinic within the next day to document your injuries and that they were the result of a pedestrian accident in Washington.
The third thing you want to do is hire an attorney sooner rather than later. There’s a lot of good work we can do at the very outset of your case while the evidence is still fresh, and we want to be sure to be able to track down witnesses and statements and insurance while that information is still easy to gather.
How Can I Choose a Pedestrian Accident Attorney for My Case?
When you’re looking for an attorney to represent you on a pedestrian accident case in Washington, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you want to be sure that the attorney that you’re hiring actually has experience with pedestrian accident cases. You can do this by viewing their website or by giving their office a call. Second, you want to be sure that not only do they do pedestrian accident cases, but that this is all that they do. You don’t want an attorney that dabbles in personal injury; you want an attorney where this is their passion. Again, you can do that by viewing their website. If they have personal injury listed in addition to landlord-tenant, criminal law, and medical malpractice, that’s not the attorney that you want.
Focus on an attorney that is specific to the pedestrian accident area of law, that is experienced only in that area. Then also find an attorney that has a great track record with insurance companies, who is not afraid to go to trial or go to court if the insurance company is unwilling to offer you what’s fair. You can find that out by simply asking the attorney during your consultation, “Are you an attorney that goes to court?” and find out their track record.
What are the Steps in a Pedestrian Accident Injury Claim?
At an initial client meeting, one of the things that we will walk through with new clients who’ve been involved in pedestrian accidents in Washington is the timeline of what to expect. When you hire an attorney, the first month or two is going to be spent collecting the information that we need in order to prove your case. That will include witness statements, property damage documentation, photographs, and hard evidence that we can collect while the evidence is still out there and available to be collected.
For the next few months while you’re still treating, what we do is work with you and your providers to be sure that you’re getting the treatment that you need to get well. Also we need to be sure that we’re avoiding red flag issues such as gaps in care or non-compliance with your doctor’s orders. We stay on top of your treatment to be sure that that does not happen. Once you’re done with treatment, we collect all of your records and bills, and then we submit a settlement package to the insurance company. That negotiation process is typically going to take about two to three months.
At the end of that process, we will have a top number for you, and that’s the best number that we’ve been able to negotiate outside of court. A client at that point has complete control, so you decide at that point if you want to settle or if you want to go to court. As your attorney, we would provide you with the best guidance on where we think the risks and benefits are in making that decision. If you do decide to settle, that’s good. You would typically have your check within about two weeks. If you decide to go to court, that is typically about a year-long process. We would walk through that entire process with you and represent you all the way up through trial.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
If you’ve been injured as a pedestrian in Washington, what you’ll probably expect is a call from the driver’s insurance company within 24 to 48 hours of being involved in the crash. Although you may think you’re doing a favor to the insurance company by providing a statement, that’s not what you want to be in that circumstance. You do not want to provide a recorded statement to the insurance company.
One example of what happens in those statements and how that can hurt you later on is this: The adjuster commonly reads from a script and one of those questions on the script will be, “How are you doing today?” In common courtesy, we often say, “I’m doing good.” What happens later on in your case is that the insurance company uses that to say, “You know what? We talked to you within three hours of the crash and you were doing good.” Now you’re coming back three weeks later and you’ve got all these injuries.
Another problem is that within 24 to 48 hours of the crash, you probably do not know the full extent of your injuries. Any medical doctor will tell you you’ve got a lot of adrenaline going through you and that you’re not going to experience your full injuries, likely, until a few days after the crash. The insurance company is going to try to ask you what your injuries are, and if you only report that your neck hurts and not that your knee hurts, your ankle hurts, etc., what they do, again, is they try to use that against you later on to try to say you were lying about your injuries and you under-reported them. You’re not helping yourself at all by giving a statement. It’s best to not provide a statement and to hire an attorney early on so they can help navigate that process for you
Can I File a Claim for a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Sometimes we get calls from clients who have been seriously injured in a pedestrian hit-and-run accident in Washington. Those are very tough situations in terms of being able to find compensation for our clients. Also in terms of injuries, those tend to be the most severe types of injuries that we see. One thing to keep in mind is that if you have at least the license plate number for the vehicle that hit you, we can track down the owner of that vehicle and help to track down coverage if there is any.
The second thing to keep in mind is that Washington has mandatory coverage called under-insured or uninsured motorist, also known as UIM, on every car policy. What that means if you’re hit as a pedestrian in a hit-and-run, is that even though you weren’t in your own car, your own car’s coverage may cover you in a situation like this. It’s important to collect all of your own information on your insurance policies and bring that in to talk to a personal injury attorney who will be able to walk you through how to handle a hit-and-run accident and get coverage for that in Washington.
Can I Be Partially At Fault for My Pedestrian Accident?
If you’ve been hit as a pedestrian in Washington and the insurance company finds out that you’re partially at-fault for the crash, you may be wondering, “Do I even have a case?” Yes, you would have a case in Washington. Washington is unlike many other states where even in a situation where you’re partially at fault, you still get to recover for your injuries. The way that works is that your percentage of fault gets deducted from what you can recover from the insurance company. For example, if you’re 20% at fault for a crash, then you would not be able to recover that 20% from the insurance company for the car who hit you. Instead, you would only be able to recover 80% of your losses.
The other caveat to keep in mind as a pedestrian in Washington is that if you’re hit by a car, you would qualify for the no-fault or PIP coverage under that driver’s vehicle. That coverage applies for your injuries regardless of whether you were at fault or whether the driver was at fault. What that means in a typical situation is that your first $10,000 worth of medical bills would be covered at 100% by the driver who hits you.
Again, if you’ve been involved in a pedestrian accident in Washington, it’s important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible, because an attorney could review all of those coverages for you and give you the best advice on how to proceed.
How Can I Determine the Value of My Pedestrian Accident Case?
One of the most common questions that we get in pedestrian accident cases in Washington is, “What is my case worth?” That’s a fair question. When gauging what your case is worth, there are going to be three things that we look at primarily. One is what your injuries are. Typically in a pedestrian accident case, your injuries are going to be more severe than a case involving somebody in a vehicle who’s protected by all that steel. Typically, the more serious your injuries, the more your case is worth.
The second thing that we look at is what your medical bills are, and what type of treatment you got. Again, generally speaking, the more you treat, the more your case is worth, but it has to be the right type of treatment. That’s something that we help clients with throughout the process. For example, if you rack up a $20,000 chiropractic bill, that’s not going to be of the same value as a $20,000 surgical bill.
The third thing that we look at is what type of physical recovery you are going to make. At the end of your treatment, that’s something that we work closely with our clients’ doctors on. What we need to know from them is if you’re fully recovered. If so, that’s great, but that means that your case is worth less than, for example, somebody who does not recover and still has a permanent disability. All of that will be factored in to determining your case value.
How Long Do I Have to File a Pedestrian Accident Claim in Washington?
In Washington, the statute of limitations is three years from the day of the accident. That means you have three years to either settle your case or file a lawsuit. With that being said, you should hire an attorney to help on your case as soon as possible, because the longer you wait to hire an attorney, the more difficult it becomes to collect the evidence needed to prove your case.
How Long Will it Take for My Pedestrian Accident Case to Settle?
If you’re viewing this video, you may be wondering how long it is going to take for your pedestrian accident case to be resolved in Washington. Typically speaking, it’s going to take as long as it takes for you to get better. That’s the most important thing from a medical standpoint as well as from a case standpoint. We cannot settle your case until you are fully done with treatment. If that takes three months, six months, or a year, we need to wait that duration to be sure that you’re fully healed from your injuries. Once you’re formally done with treatment, you can look at when you might settle. Most cases will settle within about three to four months from the date that you’ve been released from care by your doctor.
Call an Edmonds Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
Having an experienced lawyer on your side will increase your likelihood of getting the full amount of money damages that you deserve after this type of accident. Certa Law Group can help. Call us or contact us online to learn more or to schedule an appointment.