Pedestrian injuries, such as when you are hit by a car, are a painful and traumatic experience. Many injuries will last a lifetime. In the aftermath of such an incident, filing a lawsuit may be far from your mind. However, if your pedestrian injuries happened due to the negligence of another person, you must keep your legal options open. Always (!) consult the Portland Pedestrian Injury Attorney. We are here 24x7 if you have questions.
Who Is At Fault or "Liability"
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.
Police Reports and Insurance Companies
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.
Insurance Coverage in Pedestrian Accidents
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 Pedestrian Injury Case
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.
5285 Meadows Road, Suite 204, Lake Oswego, Oregon