Pedestrian Accidents FAQ
Pedestrian accidents are on the rise as more people are taking to scooters and then walking to their offices and out to restaurants.
The following are some frequently asked questions we get as experienced personal injury lawyers about pedestrian accidents.
Do I have to cross the street at an intersection or use a crosswalk?
Answer: You are lawfully able to cross the street outside a crosswalk so long as you yield to traffic. Specifically, if you are crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, you have to yield the right of way to all vehicles on the street unless you have already, and under safe conditions, entered the street. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-92(a). However, you may not cross anywhere on a roadway where there are traffic lights at the intersection on both sides adjacent to where you are crossing. If you are struck by a car outside the crosswalk you still might be able to collect for damages if the driver saw you and attempted to pass you, or if he failed to take proper precautions.
Do I still have a case if I was cited for not crossing at a crosswalk even though I was struck and injured by a car?
Answer: That depends. If you had yielded to traffic and the driver who hit you was speeding, or texting and should have seen you, then you might be able to claim damages. However, a jury might determine that you were at fault as well, but so long as your own percentage of responsibility is less than 50%, then you can collect compensation. Your verdict will be reduced by the percentage of your own fault.
Does a driver have to completely stop when pedestrians are in the crosswalk?
Answer: If the pedestrian is walking on that half of the crosswalk upon which the car is traveling (the driver’s side of the road), or is within one lane of that half of the roadway on which the car is traveling or turning onto, then the driver must come to a complete stop.
Will the driver’s car insurance pay for all of my medical bills?
Answer: The driver’s insurance company will not pay any of your medical bills until your case is resolved. In the meantime, you are responsible for your medical bills and can submit them to your health care insurer if you have one or pay them yourself. For bills that your health insurer will not cover, many providers will wait or have you sign a lien form in which you agree to pay the bills out of any future settlement funds. Also, once your case settles, the settlement paid will be for a lump sum. There is no separate settlement for medical expenses. If your case goes to trial and you obtain a money verdict, the amount may include damages for medical expenses.
Remember that your health insurer may have a right to be reimbursed out of your settlement or verdict. This reimbursement is called subrogation.
I think the driver was texting when I was hit but he claimed I ran out into the street. How can I prove he was texting and driving?
Answer: An investigation may reveal witnesses who saw the driver texting just before the accident. Also, your attorney can subpoena the driver’s phone records and correlate the time a text was received or was being sent with the time you were hit. If proved, it shows the driver was negligent as a matter of law and makes it easier for you to collect damages.
My pedestrian accident was clearly the driver’s fault and he was cited. Why should I hire a lawyer and have to pay him out of my settlement?
Answer: Even though the driver was cited, it does not mean that liability is firmly established especially if there were no witnesses. You can expect that the driver will claim the accident was at least partially your fault. Also, you still must prove your damages which require deposing damages witnesses who can talk about what life was like for you as a result of the crash, and having your medical team who treated you testify about your treatment and pain. If you have a pre-existing condition or had prior treatment for the same area of your body injured in this accident, the insurance company will certainly question whether this accident was the cause of your injuries.
Insurance companies will go to great lengths to pay you as little as possible. Statistics do show that injured claimants who are represented by an attorney recover substantially more than those who handle their own claims, even accounting for legal fees. We offer free consultations for a reason: if we feel you don’t need a lawyer, we will tell you.
What happens if the driver who hit me was uninsured or had insurance but his insurance is less than my case is worth?
Answer: Since the accident was with a motor vehicle, you can seek compensation from your own auto liability carrier if you have uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage. If you do not have a car but are living with a relative who does, then you can utilize your relative’s car insurance policy so long as there is UM/UIM coverage. Be sure that you file a police report and immediately report the accident to the insurance company or the insurer may deny coverage. You may also pursue the owner of the vehicle that the driver was driving.
Do I have to honk my horn when I see a pedestrian walking outside a crosswalk?
Answer: If the person is a child, elderly, incapacitated, or appears intoxicated or confused, you must take all necessary and proper precautions to avoid hitting the person.
What damages can I recover in a pedestrian accident case?
Answer: Your compensation includes your medical expenses, future medical care and costs, lost income and loss of future earning capacity, disfigurements like scarring, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. In some cases, you can collect punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was malicious, wanton, fraudulent, or exhibited a reckless indifference to your safety. Punitive damages are more commonly pursued in cases of drunk driving and hit-and-run accidents.
Is the driver the only party whom I can sue in a pedestrian accident?
Answer: There may be other parties who are responsible for your accident. If the driver experienced brake problems, then the auto shop that negligently serviced the car might be a party. An expert might find that the intersection or roadway where you were struck was poorly lighted or designed and/or the county had notice of prior pedestrian accidents at this location. If the driver was intoxicated, the person or commercial establishment that supplied the alcohol to the driver might be liable under Georgia’s dram shop laws if the person served was a minor or was served while he was obviously intoxicated and the bar or restaurant staff knew that the individual was likely to drive.
How soon do I have to bring a lawsuit in a pedestrian accident?
Answer: Generally, you have two years from the date of the accident although that two-year clock can be paused pending criminal prosecution of the driver. If you are bringing an uninsured claim, you must have a police report and have notified the insurance company of your claim within a reasonable time after the accident. If the driver was an employee of a public agency or department, you must file a written notice called an “ante litem notice” to the appropriate department. And if the victim is a minor, she has until her 20th birthday to file the case.