Due to the lack of protection, injuries in a pedestrian accident are usually severe. The majority of victims end up in an emergency room. Meanwhile, pedestrians are 15 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than vehicle occupants are.
If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident, you could seek compensation. To determine liability, prove negligence, and negotiate a fair settlement, you may need to hire a West Palm Beach pedestrian accident attorney. An experienced West Palm Beach pedestrian accident lawyer from Eltringham Law Group can help evaluate your case and build a strong strategy for obtaining compensation.
Determining Liability in a Pedestrian Accident in Florida
Figuring out who is responsible for a pedestrian accident is the first step to damage recovery. While the fault in a traffic accident may seem obvious at first, an investigation could uncover details that point to other people or entities.
Common liable parties in a pedestrian accident are:
- Vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle) driver – if a driver hits a pedestrian, their insurance can be responsible for paying compensation.
- Driver’s employer – if the driver was working at the moment of the accident (i.e. truck driver, ride-sharing, delivery) their employer’s insurance may be responsible for covering damages.
- Manufacturer – if the accident happened because the vehicle malfunctioned, you could file a product liability claim.
- Government – both local and state government entities could be held responsible if the lack of road, sign, and signal maintenance played a role in the accident.
In some cases, a pedestrian can also be responsible for the accident.
When it comes to distributing fault, Florida follows a pure comparative negligence rule that assigns damages proportionally to the party’s liability percentage.
For example, a car driver exceeds the speed limit and hits a jaywalking pedestrian. The pedestrian sustains severe injuries and files a claim for $100,000. The judge determines that the driver’s liability is 80% while the pedestrian is 20% responsible. Accordingly, the pedestrian can only claim 80% of the damage amount ($80,000).
Determining liability in a pedestrian accident requires an in-depth investigation. While it’s possible to get all the facts without legal assistance, it’s easy to miss an important piece of evidence. Consider hiring a pedestrian accident attorney in West Palm Beach to help you get the job done.
Proving Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident
Once you determine liability, you have to prove negligence. No matter how obvious the at-fault party’s actions are, it’s still your responsibility to demonstrate the four aspects of negligence:
- The legal duty of care – the at-fault party must have a legal duty of care to the pedestrian. For example, a car driver has a duty to act reasonably on the road. Meanwhile, the government has a duty to put up “pedestrian crossing” signs.
- Breach of the legal duty of care – the at-fault party has to breach the legal duty of care to be found negligent. For example, a car driver would have to act unreasonably (e.g. ignore traffic signs), or a manufacturer would need to install a defective part on a vehicle.
- Injury causation – the plaintiff needs to prove that the at-fault party’s breach led to their injuries. For example, the car driver ran a red light, hit the person, and they sustained a spinal cord injury or a TBI (traumatic brain injury).
- Damages – the plaintiff has to prove that sustained injuries resulted in damages – additionally, that it kept the pedestrian from returning to work and supporting their family.
To prove negligence, you would need to collect evidence, find witnesses, hire expert witnesses, and study relevant laws. Doing all that without legal experience can be tough. A pedestrian accident attorney can take all the necessary steps toward proving negligence and making your case.
Recovering Damages in a Pedestrian Accident
When you prove negligence in a pedestrian accident case, you can recover several types of damages:
- Economic damages – all tangible damages you incurred due to the accident, including medical expenses, loss of wages, loss of earning capacity, at-home care, and more.
- Non-economic damages – non-tangible damages that have to do with the quality of your life after the accident, including mental anguish, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
For both types, you can seek compensation for past, present, and future damages. For example, if injuries cause a permanent disability, you may not be able to work in full capacity again. The at-fault party could compensate for the difference in future wages.
In rare cases, the judge may award punitive damages. This can happen if the at-fault party acted outrageously. For example, a drunk driver swerved onto a sidewalk and hit a pedestrian.
Going to Court after a Pedestrian Accident
Many pedestrian accident cases can be settled without going to court. However, you may still need to file a lawsuit if:
- The at-fault party doesn’t have insurance.
- The at-fault party’s insurance limit is too low to cover your damages.
- You are unhappy with the settlement offer.
If you decide to go to court, you would need to get the paperwork ready, file all documents on time, and present your case to the judge and the jury. You could benefit from professional legal advice. Otherwise, it’s possible to lose your shot at compensation.
When to Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Ideally, you should contact a pedestrian accident attorney from the site of the accident. A legal professional can give you valuable advice about collecting evidence and speaking to witnesses.
Since your main goal is to take care of your health, you may only have time to call a pedestrian accident lawyer in West Palm Beach several days after the accident. The earlier you do it, the easier it will be to conduct an investigation and build your case.
Even if weeks or months have passed after the accident, it may still be possible to obtain compensation. Call an attorney for a case review as soon as you are ready.
Contact an Experienced West Palm Beach Accident Lawyer Today
Did you get hurt in a pedestrian accident? You may be entitled to sizable compensation. The legal team from Eltringham Law Group has helped hundreds of clients get the money they deserve. Call us for a free case evaluation today.