Vancouver WA Pedestrian Accident Injury Claim
Any accident involving a pedestrian presents a very realistic possibility of serious injury, not only from the impact of the vehicle that hit the pedestrian but also from the force with which the pedestrian strikes the pavement or sidewalk.
Pedestrian accident injury claims require the help of a legal expert in order to build a proper case that will yield positive benefits for the victim. This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced Vancouver WA pedestrian accident lawyer. Contact the Law Offices of Loren S. Etengoff today to learn more about how we can help.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
The two most common causes of pedestrian accidents are often:
- Driver negligence
- Maintenance failure by a local municipality
Drivers Must Yield the Right of Way at Crosswalks
Intersections are the primary area where pedestrian accidents occur. Washington law requires drivers to yield the right of way and stop whenever a pedestrian is in a crosswalk. The crosswalk need not be marked for this standard to apply; a legal crosswalk is implied at every location where roads intersect.
Pedestrians are also vulnerable as they walk on the shoulder of a roadway where there is no sidewalk. A driver may not pass a pedestrian if in so doing the driver does not allow sufficient space for the pedestrian to walk.
When Can Crosswalks Pose a Danger to Pedestrians?
While crosswalks may seem to be safe, that’s unfortunately not always the case. A crosswalk may present a danger to a pedestrian if:
- A traffic light is broken
- A traffic light is timed so that it is impossible or difficult to cross in the allotted time period
- Improper lighting fails to allow for the visibility of pedestrians
Other maintenance problems may include uneven sidewalks and confusing or missing signage. In such cases, the municipality’s negligence could make them liable for the accident,
Can a Pedestrian Be Partially at Fault for an Accident?
In some cases, the pedestrian fails to exercise proper caution and may in fact share some fault in the accident. However, even if the pedestrian is partially liable that is not a bar to recovering damages from another person or entity that is also responsible for the accident.
When to Hire a Vancouver WA Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
One of the most basic questions that accident victims ask is: Should I hire an attorney?
If your injuries are very minor, you may decide not to hire an attorney. However, in cases where you have more serious injuries, will miss time from work, or have spent time in the hospital to have your injuries treated, the help of a Vancouver WA pedestrian accident lawyer is crucial to ensure that you get a fair settlement from the insurance company.
Contrary to popular belief, you’re not in good hands with an insurance company and they do not bear any resemblance to a good neighbor. The insurance companies job is to pay you as little as possible to make you go away. To that end, they will attempt to show that your injuries predated the accident, blame the accident on you, or claim that you are exaggerating your injuries. In other words, be prepared to put up a fight.
Those who try to settle with the insurance companies themselves have a difficult time getting a fair offer. Those who suffer injury because of a careless driver are entitled to a number of damages. Insurance companies may only offer you a fraction of your medical expenses and a bit of nuisance pay.
What Damages Can I Collect in a Pedestrian Accident Claim?
In an accident claim where the driver is at fault, you can collect damages on:
- Your medical expenses,
- Lost wages or loss of employment,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Emotional trauma.
In cases where you have suffered a permanent impairment or disfigurement, the settlement can reach into the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars. But a typical insurance company will not offer you anything close in way of a settlement. You will need to be prepared to fight for every dime you’re owed.
What If I’m Partly at Fault for the Accident?
Maybe you were looking at your phone while you were crossing the street. Maybe you crossed on a green light. Or maybe you failed to yield the right of way in a certain instance. A number of situations could lead to the pedestrian themselves being at least partially liable for their own injuries. This does not, however, absolve the driver of wrongdoing (or liability) when an accident occurs.
So let’s say you cross in the middle of the street (instead of the corner) and are hit by a driver who was speeding. Had the driver been going the speed limit, your injuries would have likely been far less severe. For that reason, Washington holds that two parties can be held partly liable for an accident.
This is what we call comparative fault or comparative negligence. In Washington, even a party who is 99% to blame for an accident can still sue for damages under the statute. Some states limit recover to instances in which the plaintiff is less than 50% to blame for the accident. Some states require that the plaintiff have 0% blame in order to pursue damages. Washington, however, does not. You can recover damages so long as you are not 100% to blame for the accident.
If your injuries are severe, then you should attempt to recover some amount of money to offset your medical expenses and lost time from work.
What If My Loved One Suffered Fatal Injuries?
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents happen every day. They are particularly problematic in large metropolitan areas with dense foot traffic and a lot of cars. Seldom does the pedestrian walk away without experiencing some kind of injury. In some cases, the pedestrian may suffer fatal injuries.
If your loved one was killed by an at-fault driver, you and your family can recover damages for your loss. While it’s plain that money will never be able to replace the hole left behind by the loss of your loved one, the sense of aggressively pursuing damages in these cases is to ensure that future accidents like these don’t happen.
Despite the fact that major cities have enacted policies to prevent pedestrian accidents, the fact is that there are more cars on the road than ever. There are also more distractions. In fact, distracted driving (and walking) is the most likely cause of a pedestrian accident.
If your loved one was killed by a distracted or drunk driver, you can sue for loss of companionship, emotional anguish, and the recovery of the income they would have likely earned during the remainder of their life. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Loren S. Etengoff will litigate the claim against the at-fault driver.
What If Their Insurance Doesn’t Cover My Expenses?
If your medical expenses and lost wages add up to more than the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, you have the option of suing the driver directly. You can also make a claim against your Underinsured Driver policy. Here too, you may want to have an attorney litigate the claim. Even insurance companies that cover you can be difficult to deal with when they’re required to pay up.
Contact Vancouver Pedestrian Accident Lawyers for Legal Advice
Injuries, especially to the head, can be severe and have long term consequences. If you have been the victim of an accident as a pedestrian, you need to protect your rights. Take the first step. Call a Vancouver WA pedestrian accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Loren S. Etengoff.