Accidents involving pedestrians are some of the more severe and catastrophic cases in the legal system. People traveling by foot do not benefit from protections offered by vehicles, such as airbags, a steel frame, or seatbelts. If a driver strikes someone walking due to inattention or reckless behavior, they a local injury attorney could hold them legally liable for the resulting damages.
A Bucks County pedestrian accident lawyer could help you seek financial compensation for the financial and personal losses you have suffered after being hit by a vehicle. Legal representation could put you in a better position to obtain the damages to which you are entitled.
Laws Governing Pedestrians and Drivers
When interacting on Pennsylvania streets, both those walking and driving have a duty to exercise caution to ensure themselves and others’ safety. To aid in the prevention of catastrophic accidents, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated codified specific obligations assigned to each of these parties.
Requirements for Motorists
Unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not grant pedestrians a blanket right-of-way, so the circumstances dictate whether the driver or the person walking should yield. For example, 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3542 instructs that pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks (marked or unmarked) and at intersections where there are no traffic control devices. If a driver has stopped to allow pedestrians safe passage, other vehicles traveling in the same direction must also stop, as 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3542(c) prohibits passing the stopped vehicle. Motorists must yield to individuals, under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3547, when cutting across sidewalks to access an alley, driveway, private road, or similar location. Additionally, 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3549 requires motorists to use caution and yield to visually impaired individuals using white canes or accompanied by guide dogs.
Walking Safely in Bucks County
Pedestrians owe themselves a duty to take care and stay out of harm’s way. Generally, they must yield to motorists when appropriate and give drivers sufficient time to stop before stepping into the street. The law identifies several specific expectations under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 3112, 3113, and 3541 through 3544. These laws require pedestrians to:
- Obey all traffic control devices (e.g., traffic lights and signage)
- Avoid darting out into traffic lanes
- Yield when crossing a roadway at a place other than a crosswalk
- Use sidewalks, crosswalks, tunnels, or bridges where available
- Stay close to the curb or side of the road when no sidewalk is available
- Not cross streets diagonally unless directed
Abiding by these rules cannot guarantee that those traveling on foot will not come in contact with a car. However, following these directives may minimize the chances of a serious accident.
What Injuries Could a Pedestrian Suffer in a Collision?
Because of their lack of protection, pedestrians often suffer significant injuries when hit by a motor vehicle. While minor bumps and bruises do not need long-term medical care, many other frequent consequences of these crashes leave individuals with permanent ailments and disfigurements. This includes broken bones, concussions, brain damage, paralysis, and internal injuries. These and many other repercussions can alter a person’s way of life, introducing substantial financial hardships. By working with a Bucks County attorney familiar with these types of accidents, pedestrians may hold drivers accountable and ease their future worries.
Compensation for People Hit by Car While Walking
In Bucks County, insurance is required for all drivers, but not all insurance policies are created equally. The insurance system distinguishes between full tort and limited tort plans. Limited tort policies force injured parties to seek recovery for any medical costs caused by a collision involving a vehicle through the driver’s own insurance. Full tort allows drivers to pursue personal damages from a defendant regardless of insurance restrictions. For pedestrians, their rights to non-economic recovery are not limited to their own insurance policies – only in cases where a motor vehicle occupant is injured.
Lawsuits can quickly become complicated for pedestrians that do not have automobile insurance plans. In these cases, lawsuits are typically recommended, especially for serious claims where catastrophic harm or death occurred.
Unfortunately, insurance companies can deny any claim determined to be beyond the insurance policy’s scope. Claims can be dismissed if it determined the pedestrian:
- Was distracted or not paying attention
- Crossed the street where there was no crosswalk
- Sprinted into the roadway in front of vehicles
- Struck the vehicle
These cases can also be dismissed if the claims were pre-existing. Utilizing a Bucks County attorney’s services is critical to avoid having a pedestrian injury claim denied for improper reasons.
Pennsylvania does not bar parties who contributed to their injuries from recovering damages, but plaintiffs may receive only the apportionment directly related to the blame assigned to defendants. In other words, if the defendants are 60 percent at fault, the plaintiff may recover 60 percent of the judgment awarded. Under this theory of comparative negligence, stated in 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 7102(a), plaintiffs may find favorable judgments reduced so long as they do not bear the majority of the blame.
Suffering a reduction or denial of recovery is a harsh result on top of being struck by a car. Reputable injury lawyers in Bucks County familiar with pedestrian accidents may help plaintiffs evaluate their options and carefully construct strategies to avoid a reduction in recovery.
Claims Process for Injured Pedestrians in Bucks County
When the average person thinks about filing a claim, they often believe that involves going to trial. In reality, most claims never make it to the courthouse.
The settlement process involves discussions with the insurance claims handler. While some handlers make low offers to save the insurance company money, others make reasonable offers to avoid the expense of litigating the claim in court. Careful records of these negotiations must be kept to ensure the insurance company is operating lawfully concerning a harmed pedestrian’s claim.
If a pre-suit settlement cannot be reached, demand letters and pleadings are drafted and sent to the appropriate parties. This involves hiring a process server to serve the negligent vehicle driver. Pleadings generally contain a brief description of the accident, and general statement as to the injuries claimed. A local accident lawyer could assist the injured pedestrian by obtaining medical documents to properly address each claim, organizing evidence, negotiating with defense attorneys, appearing in court for discovery conferences, and, if necessary, trying the case to verdict.
Cases are also decided outside of court. Mediations offer parties opportunities to utilize an independent party to assess the claim and provide a recommendation for settlement. Arbitration presents the litigants the chance for a binding, limited trial, without jurors, before a neutral arbitrator. These alternative dispute resolutions are often explored in cases where the facts are not suitable for a jury, such as those where comparative negligence applies. Comparative negligence, or fault, applies to instances where the claimant’s actions may have contributed to the accident.
Get in Touch with a Bucks County Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Seasoned attorneys carefully assess each case’s facts to determine whether the case should be heard by a jury, arbitrator, or should settle without a formal presentation. Contact a Bucks County pedestrian accident lawyer to discuss your claim during your initial case consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.