Many individuals that have been in an accident involving a motor vehicle don’t necessarily understand how the process works. California is a tort state. That means that motor vehicle accidents attempt to determine who is at fault. A pedestrian who runs out into the middle of the street may be determined to be at fault in an accident involving a car.
On the other hand, a car may have been found to be driving recklessly, thus causing a collision with a pedestrian. Determining who is at fault in a case like this is of paramount concern to both insurance companies and those who have been injured by reckless drivers. Yet the situation may not be easy to navigate. Especially since people don’t tend to get hit by cars on a regular basis.
So for those that do find themselves in this situation, navigating the process of dealing with insurance companies is often the last thing on their mind. These individuals often face long recovery periods, worries concerning when they’ll be able to go back work, an inability to enjoy the things they once enjoyed, and mounting medical expenses. Those are on top of rehabbing from their injuries. The process is daunting.
But having a solid foundation for understanding how these cases are settled can often bring a modicum of relief.
Sally Morin’s Pedestrian law blog includes:
As of right now, there are many California cities in which pedestrian accidents have risen to unacceptable levels. Some cities have gone out of their way to curb the spike in both pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Others seem indifferent toward the danger their streets present to their residents.
At other times, companies may be to blame for encouraging unsafe driving practices for their employees. For instance, companies like Uber and Lyft encourage ranking systems that seem to pressure drivers to arrive quickly. Such a policy may encourage unsafe driving, and if that is the case, then an injured party may be entitled to collect from the company, even when that company employs freelancers.
In instances where the city may be to blame for unsafe intersections or poorly conceived traffic signals, a pedestrian who is injured may be able to take on city hall for not doing enough to protect them.
For those who need to rely on public transit in order to get to the grocery store or to their place of employment, there are times when they are forced to cross dangerous roads. When it happens more often than it should, there may be a case against the transportation authority or the city itself.
More often than not, however, the vast majority of pedestrian accidents happen because a driver has taken their eyes and their attention off the road. The CDC has listed distracted driving as a major cause of fatalities on American roadways. Most states now have laws against texting while driving, but auto manufacturers are coming out with more and more features for their infotainment systems. Even as the cars themselves become safer in terms of managing collisions, their drivers have more and more reasons to take their eyes off the road.
For those that are injured by a distracted driver, dealing with insurance companies can be a burden unto its own. Since California is a tort state, the insurance company, by default, represents the interest of their driver. Where there is room for ambiguity in a police report or there appears to be a lack of information, the insurance company will assume some negligence on behalf of the pedestrian.
For pedestrians that have no insurance company advocating on their behalf, it either means attempting to prove their case by themselves or contracting the aid of legal counsel to battle the insurance companies for them.
While they’re not allowed to lie or misrepresent the facts, insurance companies are fully incentivized to pay out as little as humanly possible in order to satisfy a claim. If this means exploiting gray areas or instances in which the relevant information is either ambiguous or not present, that is precisely what they’ll do. That is the nature of adversarial law, so injured parties should expect that sort of behavior from the insurance company.
In addition, there may be instances in which an at-fault driver is underinsured. Their policy may not cover the extent of a pedestrian’s injuries in a car accident. This, however, doesn’t imply that a pedestrian hit by a car has no recourse to collect for their damages.
When pedestrian accidents happen the result is often a life-changing experience that at the minimum will require several months to fully recover from. Missing time from work, loss of the ability to enjoy the things you once enjoyed, and medical expenses are typical. In other instances, a pedestrian might suffer an inability to return to work, permanent injuries, and extensive pain and suffering, both physical and emotional. It’s important for pedestrians involved in an accident, and those who care about them, to have as much information at their disposal as humanly possible.
If you or someone you care about needs information about a California pedestrian vs. auto accident and how to handle all of the logistics of a legal case, this is the place to read up on what your next steps should be.
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