Fresno Pedestrian Accident Attorney
In the modern era, you wouldn’t think that pedestrians getting hit by motor vehicles is a major problem. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash in the United States every 88 minutes. In 2017 alone, an estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for injuries from car accidents — and an additional 5,977 pedestrians died. Just see our pedestrian accidents site.
There are many possible causes of pedestrian accidents, both in the United States and here in California. If the motorist was at fault for the collision, then the injured pedestrian can file a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover for their losses. In this type of claim, an injury victim may recover for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, and more.
If you have been hit by a car as a pedestrian, Nunes Law is here for you. Our law firm is dedicated to helping people who have been hurt through the negligence of others, whether in auto accidents, bike collisions, motorcycle accidents, or truck accidents. We offer free consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.
Common Causes of California Pedestrian Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an increase of more than 3% in pedestrian fatalities between 2017 and 2018. California has the most pedestrian fatalities in the United States. Despite advances in technology, the number of pedestrians who are hurt or killed after being struck by a car, truck, or SUV has continued to increase.
A pedestrian-car accident can happen in any number of ways. Some of the most common causes include:
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving or being on a phone;
- Drunk driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Failure to yield right of way
- Poor weather or light conditions
- Making a left-hand turn
- Failing to look for pedestrians when backing up in a parking lot, driveway, or crossing over a sidewalk
The CDC reports that there are certain risk factors associated with pedestrian accidents. 34% of pedestrians who were killed after being hit by a motor vehicle were under the influence of alcohol at the time. Teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 29 are more likely to be treated in the emergency room for their injuries, while older people and children are most likely to die after being struck by a car.
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Pedestrian Accident?
In California, all drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road. When a driver violates that duty, they may be held responsible for any injuries that result. In most personal injury cases, this involves a question of negligence.
Negligence is a legal concept that essentially means that a person failed to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. There are four elements of negligence:
- Duty: the driver owed the victim a duty of care
- Breach: the driver breached that duty in some way
- Causation: as a result of that breach (violation), the victim was injured
- Damages: the victim suffered losses
If you can demonstrate that the driver who hit you was negligent, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. However, if the driver was violating a law when they struck you, then you may not need to prove negligence. This is known as negligence per se.
Under this legal theory, a driver who is violating a statute or law at the time that they hurt someone is presumed to be negligent, if the law that they violated was designed to prevent this type of injury or harm. For example, speeding laws are intended to prevent accidents, with lower speed limits generally imposed in areas where there is a higher risk of a crash. If the driver that hit you was speeding at the time, they could be considered “negligent per se.”
Whether the driver was negligent or negligent per se, you may be able to recover compensation for any injuries that you suffered in the accident. These damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to recover other compensation. For example, if the driver acted intentionally or recklessly, you may be able to seek punitive damages, which are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. If a loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident, you may be able to recover damages for loss of consortium and other losses in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Do I Need a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer?
After being hit by a car, you may be approached by a representative of the insurance company. They may offer you a settlement that seems fair. You may be tempted to simply take the money and move forward with your life.
While there may be cases where it makes sense to work directly with the insurer, it will most often leave you with far less money than you would have gotten if you were represented. According to a study performed by an insurance industry group, injury victims get settlements that are 3.5 times larger when they hire an attorney, as compared to when they go it alone. In 85% of all personal injury settlements, the injured party had a lawyer.
Personal injury law firms typically offer free consultations, where they will analyze your case and advise you of your legal options. If you decide to work with the firm, a personal injury attorney will start by performing a thorough investigation of your case. This may include reviewing police reports and witness statements, working with an accident reconstruction expert, and interviewing the driver, witnesses, and others.
At the same time, your personal injury lawyer will research case law and determine who may be liable for your accident. In this way, your attorney can bring in all parties who may be responsible — and help you get the maximum compensation.
Next, your lawyer will send a demand letter to the insurance company, outlining the facts of the case, why their insured was at fault, and making a demand for compensation. If the insurer argues that you were partially to blame (for example, if you weren’t in a crosswalk or were using your cell phone while walking), then your attorney will advocate for you, making both factual and legal arguments as to why you are entitled to a full recovery. This starts the negotiation process.
Most accident cases resolve before trial. However, if the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement for your injury claim, then your lawyer will prepare to go to court. Doing so can be stressful, but may be the best way to get you the highest possible amount of compensation.
What Should I Do After Being Hit By a Car in California?
If you have been struck by a motor vehicle, the first and most important thing that you should do is seek medical treatment. Even if you don’t believe that you were hurt, getting medical attention immediately can ensure that you get a proper diagnosis. It can also boost your case, as it will establish that you were treated for specific injuries directly after the accident.
Next, if you are able to do so, start gathering information. Get the driver’s name, insurance and contact information, and the license plate number of the vehicle. Ask witnesses for their names and contact information as well. If the police have been called, request a copy of the police report. Do not apologize or admit fault.
At the same time, take pictures and videos of the scene with your smartphone. This can be a simple way to collect evidence, including your injuries. When you get home, write down what happened when your memory is fresh.
If an insurance adjuster approaches you, decline to talk to them. Instead, refer them to your Fresno personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can handle all communications and reduce the risk of you saying something that can be used against you.
Finally, consult with a Fresno pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. During a free case evaluation, you can get legal advice on how to proceed. If you decide to retain the lawyer, they will be able to fight for your right to compensation.
Fresno Pedestrian Accident FAQ
Do I Have a Case If I wasn’t in a Crosswalk When I Was Hit?
Even if you were illegally crossing the street at the time that you were hit by a car, you may still be able to file a claim against the driver who hit you. Depending on the facts of the case, the amount that you are able to recover may be reduced.
Under California law, drivers have a duty of care to yield right of way to pedestrians crossing the road in a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Pedestrians are required to yield right of way to vehicles when they are crossing the road anywhere but at a crosswalk (marked or unmarked) at an intersection. However, even if a pedestrian walks or runs into the road, a driver must still exercise care for the safety of pedestrians.
If you crossed the street illegally and were hit by a car, you may share at least some of the fault for the accident. This does not mean that you cannot recover for your injuries. If the driver was also at least partially to blame, then you can still seek compensation under a theory of comparative negligence.
In California, a person who is partially at fault for their injuries can still recover damages. The amount of compensation that they receive is reduced by the percentage that they were found to be at fault. For example, if you were 50% at fault for crossing illegally, and suffered $50,000 in damages, then your recovery would be reduced by 50% to $25,000.
How Long to I Have to File a Lawsuit for My Pedestrian Accident?
In California, there is a two year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. This means that in most cases, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a claim. There are some exceptions to this general rule, such as if you were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, out of state, or otherwise unable to move forward with a claim.
If you do not file a lawsuit within this two year time period, then your claim may be barred by law. In other words, if you don’t act quickly, you may not be able to recover anything for your injuries — even if the other driver was clearly at fault. This is why it is so important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after you are hit by a car.
I Was Hit by a Driver Who Left the Scene. What Can I Do?
When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the results can be devastating. In most cases, the person who was hurt will be able to file a lawsuit against the driver responsible for their injuries. But if that driver leaves the scene of the crash, then it can be difficult to get the compensation that you deserve for your losses.
If you are hurt by a hit-and-run driver, it may be difficult to recover money for your losses. After all, if you can’t find the responsible driver, then you cannot file a claim with their insurance company. In this situation, it is important to file a police report so that law enforcement can investigate and potentially bring the driver to justice.
Depending on the facts of your case, there may be other options. For example, if you were hit by a car because the shrubbery on the side of the road obstructed the driver’s view, a skilled Fresno personal injury attorney may be able to file a claim against the property owner.
If the driver is located, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. In addition, the driver will likely face criminal charges, as leaving the scene of an accident is a crime under California law.
How We Can Help
Being hit by a car can be an incredibly traumatic experience. At Nunes Law, we understand how physically and emotionally devastating this kind of accident can be. We are here for you.
Based in Fresno, our law firm represents clients throughout the Central Valley and San Joaquin Valley. We are dedicated to helping Californians who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents of all kinds. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a Fresno personal injury lawyer, call us at 866-871-0291 or fill out our online contact form.