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Unfortunately, injuries are common when pedestrians are hit by an automobile. If you were hit by a car or truck while crossing the street, you likely sustained damages and are wondering if pursuing a lawsuit is worth the time and trouble involved. Providing a standard amount plaintiffs receive in this type of personal injury suit is impossible, however, due to the wide number of variables in these cases.
Generally, personal injury settlements are confidential, making arriving at average amounts even more difficult. Typically, though, accidents involving pedestrians result in more significant injuries, meaning greater amounts in medical bills and treatment. Insurance adjusters typically use medical bills as the basis of forming their initial settlement offer.
Before Filing Suit
You have a variety of steps you can take that increase the likelihood you collect the full compensation you deserve. If you maintained consciousness after the collision, hopefully you took photographs of the vehicle that hit you as well as the scene of the accident, including stop signs and traffic lights. Also, the names and contact information of any witnesses should have been collected.
Two things to do as soon as possible after the accident are creating a written record and seeking medical attention. The written record should include every detail you can remember, including anything the driver said to you at the time. Visiting a doctor creates the medical records you need for your claim, and the sooner you go the better. If you wait too long, the insurance adjuster may claim the accident did not cause your injuries.
Working with the Insurance Company
Before you can file suit in an auto accident, you must first file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. If a successful settlement cannot be reached, then you may file a lawsuit.
The adjuster uses your quantifiable losses – medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses – and multiplies the total to arrive at an amount for your "general damages," which includes your non-quantifiable items like pain and suffering. Multipliers range between 1.5 and 4, but this is only a rough estimate and is not always used. If you experienced serious injuries with extensive recovery time, expect that multiplier to be at the high end of the range.
Some states institute caps on insurance settlements, pain and suffering, and more. Damages beyond the insurance limits or the state caps may not be compensated. You may be able to collect from your own insurance company, if you carry auto insurance.
Upon receiving the insurance company's settlement offer, you may attempt to negotiate. This often goes better if you have an attorney representing you. Again, you have the option of filing a personal injury suit if you cannot reach an acceptable settlement amount.
Personal injury lawsuits may include compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. Punitive damages are reserved for more extreme cases of neglectful or reckless behavior on the part of the driver. Their intention is punishment of the defendant's egregious behavior, plus deterring any future occurrences of said behavior.
Medical expenses include both past and future medical bills that relate directly to the accident, such as doctor visits, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and prescription medications. You may also include transportation to and from your treatments. Lost wages also include past and future expenses. Time missed at work, even if paid through use of sick or vacation time, qualifies as lost wages. In addition, "loss of earning capacity" qualifies for damages as well.
Property loss includes repair or replacement of any physical, personal items damaged or destroyed in the accident. Pain and suffering includes the pain suffered during the accident, in its immediate aftermath, and any ongoing pain attributed to the accident.
Emotional distress is the psychological impact of the accident, such as anxiety, fear, or sleeplessness. In some states, this is included in pain and suffering. Loss of enjoyment refers to regular daily activities, such as hobbies, you no longer enjoy due to injuries sustained in the accident. Loss of consortium refers to personal relationships, typically between spouses or parent and child, and may include sexual dysfunction and loss of companionship.
Pedestrian Hit by a Car Settlement Examples
To give you an idea of the wide variability in settlements awarded for this type of personal injury case, we provide a few examples.
- A student in Seattle, identified only as "M," was struck by a car while crossing the street. At the corner, waiting for traffic, a driver in the lane nearest the shoulder stopped, so M began crossing. As he passed the stopped car, a van driving in the next lane failed to stop and struck the boy. M spent months in the hospital and rehabilitation, and requires care for the rest of his life, though he now works and competes in the Special Olympics. The family and their attorney sued both the driver and the city of Seattle, for failing to ensure students had access to a safe crosswalk. The driver's insurance paid the policy limit of $2 million, and the city settled for an addition $1.5 million.
- A Rhode Island woman struck while crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, but who safely cross three lanes of traffic before being struck, sustained a fractured femur as well as multiple abrasions to her right side, back, and face. The driver's attorneys settled with the plaintiff's counsel for $170,000.
- .A woman in Pennsylvania was pumping gas into her car when another customer entering the gas station hit her vehicle, forcing the car into the plaintiff and causing multiple injuries requiring surgery, including a calcaneal tuberosity fracture, spraining, ligament damage, and bone contusions. The total settlement was $115,000.
Schedule a Free Personal Injury Consultation
If you were hit by a car or truck as a pedestrian, schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. He or she will advise you on the merits of your case and help set reasonable expectations as regards possible damages.