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  • Can a Pedestrian be at Fault in a Car Accident?


    It is usually thought that pedestrians have the right of way and, in many cases, this is true. However, it is not a hard and fast rule as a pedestrian can take action, or inaction, which may put them at fault for a car accident.

    Both drivers and pedestrians have legal responsibilities. They both must take reasonable care to keep themselves and others safe while walking or driving. If either person fails in this duty, they could be held responsible for any accident that occurs.

    Determining Fault

    There are times when a driver is clearly at fault for an accident. Maybe they ran a red light, or they were driving at double the speed limit and unable to slow down in time to avoid a collision. These are clear examples of a driver violating their duty of care to drive safely and responsibly to avoid an accident. 

    But pedestrians have a duty of care as well. For example, pedestrians must use crosswalks and they cannot dart out into the street at random, or “jay-walk.” These are times when a pedestrian has violated their duty of care and if an accident occurs as a result, they may be at fault.

    Drivers and pedestrians may also share fault. A pedestrian may have darted into the street not using a crosswalk, but a driver may have also been speeding. In this instance, both the driver and pedestrian could be liable for the accident. But it does not mean that a pedestrian cannot collect compensation from a driver, even if they are partially responsible. This is why it is key for injured pedestrians to speak with an attorney as soon as possible so they can learn the next steps and take appropriate action.

    There are myriad ways car and pedestrian accidents can occur. Determining exactly how they occurred and who is to blame requires evidence. Absent of a clear wrongdoing by one party or without a party admitting fault, an investigation may be required to collect evidence and determine which party is to blame. Doing that can take time and effort, but should not deter you from working to prove someone else caused your accident. 

    Proving Fault

    If you were a pedestrian injured when you were hit by a car, you will need to prove that the driver of the car was at fault for your accident. Doing this will allow you the chance to collect damages, compensation for your injuries and other financial losses.

    To prove the driver was at fault for your accident, you will need to show that the driver:

    • Breached their duty of care by driving in an unsafe manner
    • Caused an accident because of their breach of duty where you suffered injuries
    •  Owed you a duty of care to drive safely and responsibly

    This may seem like an obvious outcome to you since you were present for the accident and you know exactly what happened. However, you will need to collect evidence to prove these elements, showing that the driver caused your accident and should be responsible for covering your medical bills and other financial losses. 

    Collecting Damages

    “Damages” are a legal term referring to compensation. You may hear them referred to as money damages, too. This compensation is meant to help you cover your medical expenses and other bills related to the accident so you do not bear the financial burden from an accident you did not cause. 

    The damages you can get will vary based on the severity of your accident. Because you have very little protection from the impact of a car, even a slow speed accident could cause life-altering injuries and require a lifetime of medical care and attention. This could bankrupt even the most financially well-off individuals. 

    Your lawyer may try to get you compensation for:

    • Emotional distress
    • Loss of companionship
    • Lost earning potential
    • Lost income
    • Loss of life enjoyment
    • Pain and suffering
    • Present and future medical expenses
    • Rehabilitation costs

    One of the most important things to do when seeking damages after a pedestrian car accident is to ensure you do not settle for too little. The insurance company of the at fault driver will likely call you just days after the accident. They will offer you a settlement and pressure you to take it on the spot. You may even be tempted to do so. 

    The insurance company may tell you that it is the best offer they can make and that hiring a lawyer will only delay the time it takes for you to get money and your attorney will take a cut of the money. With a lawyer at your side advocating for your best interests, you are more likely to get a larger settlement amount, even after you pay your lawyer for their assistance. 

    While you may be tempted to take the quick offer, it is also likely not enough to cover all of your medical bills and financial losses. A lawyer can help you create an accurate estimate of your future medical needs. Using this estimate, your legal team has a starting point for negotiations with the insurance company. Many pedestrian accident victims think they can handle these negotiations themselves, but find it too complex to deal with intense negotiations while also dealing with extensive and painful injuries. 

    Another item to consider as you deal with extensive injuries is being out of work. When you suffer such serious injuries, you may not be able to return to work for a long time. This can severely limit your ability to cover your medical expenses and pay for your regular bills. Many Americans are just one missed paycheck away from financial hardship. You can avoid this tragic situation by filing a personal injury claim and attempting to collect compensation for your injuries.

    You need to focus on your health and wellbeing. One of the best ways to do that is to entrust the legal burden to an experienced lawyer.

    Act Fast

    After your accident, you are rightfully focused on your injuries and your medical care. The last thing on your mind is a personal injury lawsuit or speaking with a lawyer about your legal options. 

    You only have a limited amount of time after your pedestrian accident to bring a personal injury claim. Called a statute of limitations, that time in Virginia is just two years. While this may seem like a long time right now, consider all the hurdles you face:

    • Extended hospital stays
    • Extended time out of work
    • In-home care
    • In-facility rehabilitation
    • Multiple surgeries
    • Multiple doctor visits

    Each of these complications will take focus and time. You will quickly lose track of those two years dealing with your injuries and your recovery. The longer you wait to file a personal injury claim, the more likely it is that evidence will go missing and witnesses will forget what they saw. These are two key items that you will need to prove that someone else caused your accident and injuries. Do not delay another day.

    The Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC, Help You Get the Compensation You Need

    Even if you take all the necessary precautions, either as a pedestrian or a driver, you could still find yourself or a loved one in the unfortunate position of being in a car accident. When you do, you may not know where to turn next. Speak with the Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. Contact us today at 757-LAW-0000 to schedule your free consultation with our legal team. With offices in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we proudly serve Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore.