What Rights Do Pedestrians Have After A Car Accident? (Part 1)
There are thousands of accidents every year that involve pedestrians. Although most of these accidents occur at intersections and cross walks, there are many that involve pedestrians who are walking along a road or highway, or who are on sidewalks crossing driveways. The injuries involved with pedestrian accidents are often severe. What are the rights for pedestrians in such accidents? This question requires a more detailed analysis than some of our previous posts. Therefore, I have cut this discussion into two parts. The second part will be published August 29.
As with automobile collision cases, a pedestrian, in order to succeed in receiving a settlement or receiving compensation must be able to produce evidence establishing negligence on the part of the vehicle operator. Was the driver of the car speeding, not keeping a proper lookout, failing to yield to a pedestrian at a cross walk, failing to stay within a marked lane, or some other form of negligence? Often this evidence comes in the form of eye witness testimony, skid marks, or accident debris. When there is a lack of evidence, sometimes it is the word of the pedestrian versus the word of the driver. And, in some cases, the driver will admit fault from the beginning of the case.
Once fault (commonly referred to as liability) has been established, then there must be evidence to determine the extent of the damages, including medical expenses, property damage, (if any), wage loss, and pain and suffering. Ideally, this evidence can be submitted to the car insurance company and a reasonable settlement can be negotiated. However, if the settlement offer is not acceptable, then the pedestrian would have only one other option; to file a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle and go to court. The evidence and testimony would be presented to the jury and the jury would make a determination regarding liability and damages. The car’s insurance company would then be responsible to pay the jury verdict amount up to a maximum of the amount of car insurance purchased. This is all very similar to cases involving car accidents between vehicles. There are, however, a few things that all victims of a pedestrian accident should know.
Who pays your medical expenses if you are a victim in a pedestrian versus automobile accident? The answer to this question is often surprising to most Oregonians. Oregon law dictates the following priority of potential payers of medical expenses for injured pedestrians. The primary payer of medical expenses for the injured pedestrian is the pedestrian’s own automobile insurance company under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. When I tell people that the law dictates their auto insurance company to pay, they usually respond by saying, “But, my car wasn’t involved in this accident, I was a pedestrian.” Although the pedestrian’s car is not in any way involved in the accident, Oregon law dictates that the pedestrian’s own automobile insurance company is supposed to be the primary payer of medical expenses. Some people have philosophical problems with this, but as valid as those philosophical arguments may be, the law is the law. (To be continued).
Please be sure to read the conclusion of this post which will be published on our blog August 29, 2013. If you have any urgent questions in the meantime, feel free to call our office for a FREE consultation with an experienced attorney.
The above information is NOT a substitute for legal advice and should not be interpreted as the dissemination of legal advice. It is only meant as general guidance on various issues which may be applicable to your situation. It is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney before taking any legal action or have specific questions addressing your particular case answered.