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How to Sue

Pedestrian Injury Lawsuits

Approximately 6,000 pedestrians are killed by automobiles every year...110,000 suffer nonfatal injuries.

The law requires every driver to exercise care to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Generally, pedestrians have the right of way unless they cross the street in a non-designated crossing area or did not obey traffic signals.

If you were hit by a car, you can sue the driver for damages. Pedestrian legal cases include both lawsuits against the offending driver and lawsuits against insurance companies who may need to pay claims in a pedestrian injury case. In some cases, local municipalities are sued as well. For example, if a city failed to replace a missing stop sign and an accident happened, the city might be held liable. In addition, when a drunk driver causes an accident, it is possible in many states to institute a "dram shop act" suit against whoever allowed the driver to get drunk and drive.

If the driver is held liable for damages, you can ask for reimbursement for medical expenses. You can also ask to be compensated for time you were absent from work as a result of your injuries, damages for pain and suffering, and, if applicable, damages for your spouse or family members if they were without your care, companionship, and affection for any length of time.

As always, the value of your case will depend on the facts, the location, the amount of insurance coverage, the wealth of the driver, and the assets and insurance of anyone else in any way at least partially responsible - plus the skill of your attorney, if you use one.

Determining fault in a pedestrian accident is an important factor in the case. "Last clear chance" is a legal premise that states that the person who had the last clear chance to avoid an accident bears liability for the accident. For example, often an insurance company may deny responsibility if a child runs out into the street into traffic.

The driver's car speed and whether the driver ran a red light will also be important factors when fault is considered, as well as any outside influences such as drugs or alcohol. If the driver was distracted or inattentive or turned improperly in the intersection, these could also be factors in determining driver negligence.

Witnesses play a valuable role in providing testimony as to whether the driver or the pedestrian caused the accident.

If you have a minor injury and the fault for the accident is not in dispute, you may want to deal directly with the insurance company for the other party and try to settle your claim with their insurance adjuster on your own. You will have to do some of the work yourself, such as obtaining medical reports, sending in receipts for expenses, providing copies of medical bills. Then you can either make a demand for a certain amount of money, or wait for the adjuster to make you an offer.

If you do have a lawyer handle it, it may be a bit less work for you (although you may still have to collect all these items for your attorney) and the lawyer will take about a third of your settlement as his or her fee, unless you can negotiate a better rate. Remember, the outside time limit for filing a lawsuit for a pedestrian injury is generally three years from when the collision occurred.


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