Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Apr 28, 2015 in Car Accident News
Pedestrian collisions happen all too often. In 2014, 70 pedestrians were struck and killed on Nevada roadways. At least 39 pedestrians have died in Clark County since December. According to the Claims Journal, this trend happens for many reasons, including that "many roads in Las Vegas were built after World War II and are wide and car-friendly. High-speed limits and wide stretches between crosswalks give pedestrians few places to safely cross." Pedestrian injuries after a vehicle collision are often severe or life-threatening. The medical costs could easily soar from high amounts of trauma, and some injured parties are never able to fully recover. Motorists simply take too much for granted and frequently drive in a way that endangers pedestrians' lives. Their irresponsible behavior can create pain, suffering and astronomical debt from medical bills. To help stand up for their entitlement to fair compensation, pedestrians need to be aware of their rights and legal recourse in the event they are hit and injured.
The majority of pedestrian injury cases come down to a question of fault. Specifically, was the driver at fault or was the pedestrian? Many people assume that pedestrians automatically carry the right of way. This fact is only true if the pedestrian is using marked crosswalks and obeying the pedestrian traffic signals. However, even if the pedestrian was not using designated crosswalks, vehicle operators have a reasonable duty of care when driving. If the driver was disobeying traffic laws, such as speeding or running a red light, then the driver may assume all or a majority of the liability. Even if the driver was following all traffic laws, the pedestrian can attempt to prove that the driver had a reasonable window to respond to the danger of colliding with them. In some situations, the court may decide there was "comparative negligence" or a mixture of faults and assign fault and damages according to a ratio. For instance, if a pedestrian was blatantly jaywalking but the vehicle owner was distracted and did not react in time, the driver may theoretically be assigned 20 percent fault and pay 20 percent of the total damages.
If the pedestrian was not injured, they are not entitled to any damages. They can press criminal charges against the driver, but they cannot receive damages unless they can prove some sort of loss as a result of the collision. Pedestrians who have suffered an injury should be prepared to document the extent of their injury, including medical expenses, lost work hours, hardship, pain, and suffering. The more detailed the documentation, the better.
If the driver stopped after the accident as they should have, the pedestrian should call the police and file an incident report using the driver's information. Having police at the scene can help determine fault according to evidence and witness statements. Either party may dispute this report, but it is typically difficult to place scrutiny on the word of a police officer without overwhelming evidence. On the other hand, vagueness in the report could give the opportunity for either party to try and interpret the events as they saw them. If the driver did not stop, the pedestrian must file a hit and run report with as much identifying information as possible. The pedestrian will have to try to locate the driver or hope that the police arrest them before the 2-year statute of limitations runs out. In the meantime, that pedestrian will, unfortunately, be responsible for paying for their own care and await damages once the party is located. Getting struck by a vehicle is a serious and often life-threatening manner. If you or someone you know has been injured as a pedestrian by a vehicle, you may need legal assistance in order to obtain the full extent that you are rightfully owed.