Pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts can cause serious and debilitating injuries. You have no protection against the force of a 5000-pound passenger vehicle for even the slightest contact can throw you to the pavement and cause broken bones or serious head trauma. Pedestrian accidents are also on the increase nationwide with fatalities up by 11% in 2016 over 2015, the largest single year increase ever recorded. In our state, 23% of fatal traffic accidents involve pedestrians.
As a pedestrian, you are entitled to compensation if you are struck and injured by a motor vehicle while lawfully crossing the street. Many of these accidents occur at marked crosswalks because a motorist was impaired, distracted by use of a cellphone, or failed to notice the pedestrian. It is no coincidence that the increase in pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles correlates with the increase in distracted driving accidents, which primarily means texting while driving.
So what happens after you have been hit by a car? What steps should you take to protect your interests?
Steps to Take Following an Accident
The following are recommendations from The Law Office of Burns and Jain, a pedestrian accident law firm, that represents the interests of persons injured by the fault of other persons or entities, if you are injured as a pedestrian:
- Stay at the site and wait for medical assistance. If you are able, get the names and contact information of any witnesses or ask them to give it to police. Also, if you are able, take photographs or instruct others to do so for you.
- Do not make any statements to anyone other than a police officer and your personal injury lawyer. This includes at any time following the accident until your claim is resolved. Very often, insurance companies will send investigators even to your hospital room get a statement from you. Politely refuse and refer the individual to your attorney.
- Follow your medical provider’s advice and treatment. Keep all appointments and take all medications prescribed to you. Should you want to see a specialist or some other provider, get a referral from your doctor and report the same to your attorney. If you neglect your doctor’s advice, skip appointments or seek other treatment on your own, the other party’s insurer will claim you were either not as injured as you claim, that you are trying to run up your medical expenses, or that your injuries were worsened by your failure to follow your own doctor’s advice.
- Contact an experienced pedestrian accident law firm. The lawyers at Burns ad Jain has been handling pedestrian accidents for over 30 years and has obtained millions of dollars for clients over the years, even in the most complex or hopeless cases.
- You are entitled to personal injury protection, or PIP benefits, from your own auto insurer. If you are not covered, you can use the other party’s carrier. PIP benefits pay up to $2000 in medical expenses and lost wages if you have health insurance or up to $8000 if you do not. You are entitled to 75% of your lost wages up to the limit of $8000. Regarding your own insurer, you are required to cooperate with them, which will likely include giving a statement. Contact a pedestrian accident law firm before doing this and to allow your attorney to coordinate your PIP benefits.
- Your attorney will gather your medical records and bills, employment or school records, and discuss your physical condition and prognosis with your health care providers. For instance, you may need a medical report that confirms your inability to return to work or school for a time, or that you have sustained a permanent injury with certain restrictions on your performing daily activities or engaging in recreational activities. If necessary, your attorney may retain a vocational rehabilitation specialist if you are unable to return to your usual occupation.
- If the responsible party fled the scene and cannot be located or the driver was uninsured, you can file a claim under the uninsured motorist provision of your own auto insurance carrier. If another family member in your household has such coverage, you may use that policy as well.
- If you file a lawsuit in court against the responsible party or file an uninsured claim, you will be involved in litigation. This includes your being subject to being examined by a doctor chosen by the insurer and deposed. You can generally expect the opposing party’s physician to minimize the severity of your injuries, claim that your treatment and medical costs were excessive or unnecessary, or that your symptoms are inconsistent with your alleged injuries. At a deposition, the opposing attorney will question you in detail about your injuries, employment, the accident, and your past. Your attorney will be present and prepare you before you are deposed.
- After you have reached a certain point in your medical condition, your attorney will present an offer of settlement that will include copies of all your medical bills, records and reports, employment and wage loss records, and any other documentation supporting your damages. A demand letter will outline the facts and circumstances of the accident that supports liability of the other party, details your injuries and medical care, and a total of your claimed damages before making a demand for compensation of a certain amount. Following the submission of the demand, your attorney will engage in negotiations.
- If settlement is difficult, you may engage in mediation with a neutral third party who will attempt to reach a compromise. If you have an uninsured claim, then the final step is binding arbitration rather than a jury trial.
- If your claim is against the motorist who struck you and mediation and negotiations do not resolve the case, then you may proceed to a pretrial conference to attempt a settlement or it goes to trial.
Damages in a Pedestrian Accident Case
Damages in a pedestrian accident case may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Emotional distress
- Loss of earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
The amount of compensation you may receive depends on the nature and extent of your injuries, liability, your damages, amount of insurance coverage available, and your character among other factors.
Retain The Law Office of Burns and Jain
Do not hesitate to call the attorneys at Burns and Jain, LLC if you were injured as a pedestrian. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge your case needs. The sooner you retain an attorney, the better chance you have of obtaining the most compensation available for your claim.