The vulnerability and risk of serious injury or death when pedestrians come up against vehicles traveling on the road is well known. Pedestrians have no feasible way to sufficiently protect themselves in the event of an accident, and catastrophic injuries are a frequent consequence of these collisions.
Government officials are cognizant of this danger and use a number of measures to increase pedestrian safety, including the installation of crosswalks, street lighting, and sidewalks. Despite these efforts, some communities are more pedestrian-friendly than others, and any area, regardless of location, that requires pedestrians and cars to share the same space, introduces a risk of injury.
When pedestrian accidents do occur, the largest question looming in the mind of the victim, once immediate medical treatment is received, is how to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In other words, where does an injured party look for recovery – the driver, the driver’s insurance company, their own insurance company – or is compensation necessarily available? The answers to these questions will be explored below.
When Is Compensation Available?
Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner, and claims for pedestrian injuries would be handled as a personal injury lawsuit for negligence if this care was not exercised. Most accidents involving pedestrians and cars can be easily classified as the fault of the driver, which typically means pursuing the driver’s insurance company for financial recovery.
However, the liability of the driver in part assumes the pedestrian was conducting him/herself in a prudent manner, i.e., using crosswalks to cross intersections or using sidewalks when available. Evidence that the pedestrian was jaywalking, walking in the street, or unexpectedly darted into traffic can be used by the defendant to show the pedestrian contributed to his/her own injuries. In Massachusetts, if the plaintiff is found to be at fault for 51 percent or more of the accident, no recovery is possible. Thus, working with an experienced personal injury is key to combating these defenses.
Who Pays Compensation to the Victim?
Massachusetts is a no-fault accident liability state, which means that specific protection is written into every policy that requires accident victims to first seek recovery from their own insurer. Consequently, the pedestrian may first have to access benefits from their own insurance company for medical bills and other losses before the driver’s insurer would have any responsibility to compensate for an injury victim.
If the driver’s insurance disputes the claim, which is a common response, a negligence suit must be filed to secure the right to seek additional relief. Going after the other driver’s insurance is particularly important if the injuries are significant and caused a loss to a person’s quality of life. No-fault provisions will pay for medical bills, lost wages, and necessary household expenses, but only up to $8,000.
Further, this amount is reduced to $2,000 if the injured party has medical insurance, but it still does not account for the intangible pain and suffering many accident victims experience when this experience alters the trajectory of their lives. An experienced Cape Cod personal injury attorney can assess whether a claim for negligence exists, and determine the most effective way to pursue compensation, whether that be through negotiation or litigation.
Speak with a Cape Cod Attorney
Pedestrians should be able to go from point A to B without worry of being hit by a car. If you were the unfortunate victim of a negligent driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP about your legal rights. Drivers have a responsibility to avoid hurting others, and if they failed in this duty, you may have a legal claim. Call our Cape Cod attorneys today for a free consultation.
Attorney Peter M. Goldberg is the founder of and managing partner at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP, and has been in private practice since 1986. He takes pride in the fact he deals directly with his clients on a daily basis working to get their cases resolved to the fullest extent of their rights. Peter practices personal injury law and workers compensation law in Massachusetts.