Experiencing any type of motor vehicle accident can be a painful and traumatic experience. However, when pedestrians suffer injuries from negligent drivers, they are far more likely to have significant medical complications from these incidents. If you or a loved one recently experienced a pedestrian accident due to a negligent driver, you have the right to hold them accountable for your losses through a personal injury claim.
The attorneys of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates have extensive experience handling complex pedestrian accident cases in the San Diego, CA area. We understand that your recent pedestrian accident likely caused painful injuries as well as substantial economic losses for you and your family. It is natural to feel uncertain about your legal options after suffering any type of serious personal injury, but an experienced San Diego pedestrian accident attorney can be your best asset. Our firm can help you identify the party or parties responsible for your damages, assist you in calculating the full scope of compensation you are eligible to recover, and guide you through the legal proceedings your case will entail.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Pedestrian Accident Injury Claim?
You may wonder whether you can handle your pedestrian accident claim on your own and save money on legal fees. This is a reasonable question considering the reportedly high cost of legal fees in the US. However, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of self-representation against the value an experienced San Diego pedestrian accident lawyer can offer in your case.
The average person who has no formal legal training or experience in navigating the civil court system is highly likely to make critical mistakes in the preliminary stages of their personal injury claim. For example, you could miss one of many court filing deadlines, or fail to appear at a required hearing. Even making a small error on the legal documents you must submit to the court could lead to substantial delays or even compel a judge to throw your case out before it reaches the earliest litigation stages.
Even if you do manage to fulfill your legal obligations on your own, you would need to manage these proceedings while struggling with the aftermath of your injuries. Most pedestrian accidents cause severe physical injuries that require extensive recovery time, such as broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. You may need to rely on a family member to manage your case while you recover.
Ultimately, hiring an experienced San Diego pedestrian accident lawyer will allow you to rest and recover with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your case is in capable hands. Your legal team can manage all the procedural requirements of your case and assist you in addressing any unforeseen issues as they arise. Additionally, an experienced lawyer will be more likely to identify the various avenues of compensation available in your pedestrian accident claim. If you are concerned about legal fees, remember that you stand to lose much more than you could save if you attempt to handle your case without legal counsel.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Minor Accident with a Pedestrian?
Some car accidents do not necessarily require legal counsel. For example, if you are in a parking lot and someone backs into your vehicle at low speed, the accident is likely to cause only minor cosmetic damage to your vehicle and no physical injuries. In this case, you and the other driver may be able to settle the matter personally with a simple insurance claim.
However, car accidents involving pedestrians almost always lead to pedestrian injuries When a car hits a pedestrian, even at low speed, the pedestrian is likely to suffer significant injuries. California state law requires drivers to report any accident that causes injury, death, or substantial property damage. If you or a loved one suffer injuries in a pedestrian accident, you should plan to hire a San Diego pedestrian accident attorney to assist you in securing compensation for your losses.
How Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen in San Diego, CA?
A pedestrian accident is any vehicle accident in which a vehicle strikes a pedestrian. These accidents are likely to occur anywhere where pedestrians walk near moving traffic, especially crosswalks at busy intersections. Some of the most reported circumstances behind pedestrian accidents include:
Distracted driving. Throughout the US, distracted driving continues to be the leading cause of all motor vehicle accidents, including pedestrian accidents. If a driver is not paying full attention to their surroundings, especially around pedestrians, they can easily cause devastating accidents.
Driving under the influence (DUI). It is illegal and extremely dangerous to operate a vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Impaired drivers have slowed reaction time and diminished spatial awareness, increasing the chances of striking a pedestrian or failing to notice a pedestrian in time to stop. If a driver causes a pedestrian accident due to intoxication, they are likely to inflict severe injuries and will also face criminal prosecution under California’s DUI laws.
Poor visibility. Pedestrians can be difficult to see in congested areas, but drivers must always yield the right-of-way to nearby pedestrians. If a driver fails to notice a pedestrian in a crosswalk, or if a pedestrian is blocked from view by nearby vehicles or other objects, a pedestrian accident can easily occur.
Speeding. Posted speed limits exist to ensure a safe flow of traffic. When drivers exceed posted speed limits, they may not have time to slow down or stop their vehicles in time to avoid accidents with pedestrians.
Moving violations. Aside from speeding, drivers can also cause pedestrian accidents when they commit other moving violations such as failing to use turn signals where appropriate, riding along road shoulders, illegal passing, or failing to stop at stop signs and red lights.
Can You File a Claim Against a Pedestrian?
California upholds a pure comparative negligence law, which means a plaintiff can still recover compensation when they are partially at fault for causing the claimed damages. However, if the court determines a plaintiff bears comparative negligence in a personal injury case, the plaintiff loses a percentage of their case award to reflect their fault. The judge will assign a fault percentage to the plaintiff based on the severity of their comparative negligence, and the plaintiff loses that percentage of their case award. For example, if a plaintiff seeks $200,000 in damages and the circumstances of the case indicate 10% comparative negligence, the plaintiff loses 10% of their case award and receives $180,000 instead.
While it is technically possible for a driver to file a claim against a pedestrian if they believe the pedestrian caused an accident, this type of claim would be unlikely to succeed for several reasons. First, drivers are protected from crash impact forces by their vehicles’ structures and safety features. Pedestrians have no physical protection from vehicle crashes. California also places a higher duty of care on drivers since they are far more capable of inflicting injuries on pedestrians than the reverse.
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident and have concerns about California’s pure comparative negligence statute, your San Diego pedestrian accident attorney can help you determine the best approach to your case. For example, if you jaywalked away from the nearest crosswalk and a car hit you, you will likely bear some amount of comparative negligence under California law. However, the driver who hit you still had a higher duty of care to avoid accidents, so you are still likely to succeed in securing some compensation for your damages. The likelihood of success increases significantly when you have a reliable attorney representing you.
Proving Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident Claim
A pedestrian accident claim is a type of personal injury claim, and negligence is the core legal concept of every personal injury claim filed in California. “Negligence” refers to a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. For example, consider a driver who chooses to operate their vehicle while intoxicated—they have violated their duty of care to operate their vehicle responsibly. If you intend to file a personal injury claim for a pedestrian accident, you and your attorney must identify the party responsible for your personal injury and prove they were negligent in a way that directly caused your claimed damages.
Your San Diego pedestrian accident attorney will help you gather the evidence you need to prove the defendant’s negligence. This may include vehicle computer data, cell phone records, traffic camera footage, or statements from eyewitnesses who saw the accident occur. Additionally, you will need to prove the full scope of your damages resulting from the accident. You have the right to claim any and all damages resulting from your pedestrian accident, but you and your attorney must prove those damages resulted from the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Claimable Economic Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Case
When drivers strike pedestrians—even at low speeds—the pedestrians involved are likely to suffer severe injuries. Pedestrians may suffer primary impact injuries as well as secondary impact injuries. In a car versus pedestrian accident, the primary impact is the car striking the pedestrian and may result in blunt force trauma throughout the body, broken bones, and internal organ injuries. The secondary impact is the pedestrian striking the ground after the primary impact from the vehicle. This impact can easily cause further injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, more broken bones, and facial injuries.
Many injured pedestrians suffer multiple serious injuries, which could require immediate emergency medical treatment, multiple surgeries, and long-term rehabilitation. This, in turn, leads to expensive medical bills, and the victim may be unable to work while they recover. If the victim requires in-home care following their accident, a family member may need to leave work to provide the care they need. This situation can easily become an exceedingly difficult financial environment for the victim and their family.
California state law allows a personal injury plaintiff to claim economic and noneconomic damages resulting from a personal injury. Pedestrian accidents often cause significant damages, including:
Medical expenses. You have the right to claim compensation for any and all medical costs resulting from your pedestrian accident. This includes immediate medical expenses like ambulance transportation fees, hospital bills, and prescription medication costs. You can also claim anticipated future medical expenses if your injuries will require long-term treatment or physical therapy.
Lost income. A pedestrian accident can leave the victim injured and unable to work while they recover. If you experience lost wages after your accident, you can add these losses to your personal injury claim. Additionally, severe injuries may cause permanent disabilities that prevent you from working in the future. Your attorney can help you calculate lost future earning potential and include it in your lawsuit.
Property damage. If your pedestrian accident involved damage to any personal property, you can add repair or replacement costs as economic damages in your lawsuit.
Your pedestrian accident claim could be worth much more than you originally expected when you hire an experienced San Diego pedestrian accident lawyer to represent you. Additionally, your noneconomic damages may eclipse your other damages depending on the severity of your injuries. “Noneconomic damages” refer to intangible losses and negative experiences resulting from a pedestrian accident, such as physical pain, psychological distress, and trauma. Assigning monetary value to things like pain and suffering may sound difficult, but experienced attorneys have several methods they can use to help their client determine a fair amount of pain and suffering compensation.
If the plaintiff is likely to recover fully from their injuries after some time, their attorney may seek “per diem” pain and suffering compensation that awards a certain monetary amount per day until the plaintiff reaches maximum medical improvement. If the plaintiff is likely to experience long-term medical complications or permanent disabilities from their pedestrian accident, the attorney may apply a multiplier of up to five determined by the severity of the injuries involved. For example, if the plaintiff claims $100,000 in medical expenses and developed a permanent disability from their injury, their attorney may claim up to $500,000 or even more in pain and suffering compensation. This compensation is meant to reflect their diminished quality of life and long-term medical complications resulting from the accident.
California law also allows plaintiffs to receive punitive damages in some cases. As the name suggests, “punitive damages” exist to punish a defendant’s bad behavior and discourage similar behavior in the future. If a defendant’s behavior exceeded the scope of typical negligence, or if they acted intentionally to harm the plaintiff, the judge may order them to pay punitive damages based on their overall wealth. Thus, wealthier defendants tend to pay more in punitive damages than defendants with limited assets. If a defendant faces criminal prosecution for their actions, the judge handling their criminal case may include restitution to the victim as part of their sentencing. Your San Diego pedestrian accident attorney can help you determine whether punitive damages or restitution are likely to apply to your pedestrian accident case.
What to Expect from Your San Diego Pedestrian Accidents Attorney
Working with an experienced San Diego pedestrian accident lawyer is the best way to ensure the fullest recovery possible after experiencing a pedestrian accident. You may not know what to do first or how to file your personal injury claim, and a skilled attorney can guide you through the preliminary steps of your case. First, your attorney should help you determine who is liable for your pedestrian accident. In most cases, the defendant in your case will be the driver who hit you, but it is also possible for more than one driver to bear fault for a pedestrian accident. Your attorney will help you gather evidence to build the foundation of your claim, identify the defendant or defendants responsible for your losses, and prove their negligence in the situation in question.
The next phase of building your pedestrian accident case is establishing the full scope of your claimable damages. This means carefully reviewing all damages resulting from the incident, including your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Your attorney must also help you gather evidence that proves your damages were the direct results of the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause. Once you establish causation between the defendant’s actions and your damages, your chance of success with your claim increases dramatically.
Some pedestrian accident claims involve complex technical details or other issues that require input from expert witnesses. For example, your San Diego pedestrian accident lawyer may consult with medical experts to prove the full extent of your pain and suffering. Your attorney may also consult other experts who can help you prove how your accident occurred, such as accident reconstruction experts or engineers.
Trusted San Diego Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered severe injuries due to the negligence of a driver in the San Diego area, you should not be left to manage the aftermath on your own. The attorneys of Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal counsel you need to approach your pedestrian accident claim with confidence. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about how our firm can assist in your recovery.
Kenneth M. Sigelman and Associates possesses an exceptional and thorough knowledge of California law, decades of legal experience and a commitment to achieve justice and obtain fair compensation for victims. Click below to learn more about our team of San Diego, CA attorneys.
KEN SIGELMAN J.D., M.D.
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