Most Americans know that driving a motor vehicle can be dangerous. But so can being a pedestrian on a sidewalk, in a crosswalk or a parking lot. Almost 5,000 pedestrians are killed in car accidents every year. This is a whopping 15% of all auto accident deaths in the US. The dangers that pedestrians face also lead to 70,000 being treated for injuries in the ER annually.
Clearly, being struck by a car, truck or SUV can lead to serious injuries for pedestrians. If the pedestrian accident was caused by the driver, the pedestrian may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in Oregon. If the pedestrian dies, her family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages.
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A pedestrian is not merely a person walking on a sidewalk or by a road. Pedestrians may include:
Some of the most common places where pedestrian accidents happen are:
Most pedestrian accidents are caused by driver negligence. The most common causes are:
There are some pedestrian behaviors that could contribute to injury or death. Negligence by the pedestrian in Oregon can reduce the damages awarded. Pedestrian negligence includes crossing where there is no crosswalk, cell phone distraction, wearing earphones.
Who is to blame for the accident is the first thing to consider if you are thinking about filing a lawsuit for pedestrian injuries. For example, did the driver blow through a red light? Was he speeding? Was he drunk? Did you wander out into the street while using a cell phone? Did the accident happen in a crosswalk?
In most states, including Oregon, you as a pedestrian-only can recover damages in a lawsuit when the driver was more than 50% at fault. If you wandered into traffic while texting and there was nothing the driver could do to not hit you, there probably is no legal case here.
Let’s assume though that someone other than you the pedestrian is at fault. In some cases, more than one person causes a pedestrian accident. For instance, Driver 1 might run a red light, and Driver 2 has the green light and swerves to avoid Driver 1, but that swerve caused Driver 2 to lose control and hit you in the crosswalk.
In that case, you could sue Driver 1, even if that driver did not hit you. You actually could sue both drivers, as Driver 2 could share blame for not controlling his vehicle. It is most likely, however, that Driver 1 is mostly at fault and will pay the majority of damages.
There can be pedestrian accidents where both the driver and the pedestrian are at fault. For example, you might be crossing the street illegally and the driver is going over the speed limit. If it is determined that you were more than 50% at fault, you may not be able to collect damages; this is the comparative fault standard that is law in Oregon.
When the police come to the accident scene, they will get statements from you, the driver and witnesses. Their purpose is to determine who was at fault. They may determine this at the scene or conduct an investigation and determine their conclusion later.
The police report will state who the responding officers think is at fault. However, the insurance companies may dispute the finding; they usually will send out an insurance adjuster to the accident scene and view the damages to people and property. If you think that your insurance company has assigned you more blame than you think is warranted, you should retain a personal injury attorney.
As an injured pedestrian, you usually may file an injury claim against the driver’s liability insurance policy. Most states mandate that vehicle owners and drivers must carry liability insurance to handle personal injuries to other parties.
In Oregon, the state requires that insurance companies cover your medical expenses and lost wages up to $15,000, regardless of who is at fault. This is known as personal injury protection insurance.
Damages in a personal injury lawsuit are intended to compensate you for all of the harm you suffered. This also is known as trying to ‘make a person whole again.’ Damages that you may be entitled to are:
The easiest damages to calculate in a pedestrian injury case are medical costs and lost wages. All of the medical expenses that you paid resulting from the accident normally are reimbursed as part of the damages. Also, if you missed work – whether it was for the injuries you suffered or for your treatments – the driver normally will have to pay for your lost income.
The other two areas of damages are more complicated. How does one determine what the value of your pain and suffering is? That is usually up to a jury. However, for a ballpark estimate, if you have scrapes and bruises and a sore back for a week or two, your pain and suffering usually is worth less than $1000. However, if you have a broken hip and collarbone and suffer from headaches for months afterward, your pain and suffering could be worth $250,000 or more.
Loss of enjoyment of life means the negative impact on your life from the accident. If you were paralyzed from the chest down and you used to be a runner, these damages would be much higher than if you were not active before the accident.
Pedestrian injuries can be severe. For example, a person crossing a street in a crosswalk that is hit by a car could have at least four separate injuries:
Most common injuries with pedestrian-car accidents are:
Pedestrian injuries can require you to receive long term medical care and months or even years of rehabilitation. In the worst cases, the pedestrian may die from her injuries.
Serious pedestrian accidents such as the above are a grim reminder of the hundreds of pedestrian injuries and deaths that occur in Portland each year. The Vision Zero Action Plan, which was adopted by the Portland City Council, calls for citizens and the city to take dozens of specific actions to put an end to traffic deaths. The critical action items include steps to deal with dangerous street designs and dangerous pedestrian and driver behaviors. The campaign is intended to grow public awareness of the importance of traffic safety.
The city has invested $300,000 in the program, which includes advertising and production costs, which are largely paid by cannabis tax revenue. It is hoped that this program will result in a marked decline in pedestrian injuries and deaths in the Portland area in the next five years.
Pedestrians are among the most vulnerable among us on our roads. Pedestrians have the legal right to move about safely where traffic is present. If you are hurt in a pedestrian accident, such as at a designated crosswalk, you could be entitled to obtain compensation from the driver who struck you.
Unfortunately, many pedestrian accident victims are children. The injuries that many children in these preventable accidents can be terrible:
If you or a loved one have been in a pedestrian accident, you could be left with head injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, and untold pain and suffering. Plus, you may have thousands of dollars in medical bills you cannot pay, lost earnings, and many out of pocket expenses. If it can be proven the driver was negligent, he could have to pay for your medical expenses and much more. The Herron Law Office is experienced in holding negligent drivers responsible who injure others in car accidents. Please contact our law offices today for a free consultation. We can determine quickly if you have a strong personal injury claim.
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