Car accidents are common occurrences and the majority are minor in nature with no or minimal injuries. However, when a pedestrian is struck by a car, the odds that he/she will suffer a serious injury is substantially higher.
Recently, a 61-year old man was killed in Lowell when he was struck by a car on Church Street near Warren. Lowell is a fair-sized community of over 108,000 residents and lies close to Lexington, Andover, Tewksbury, Billerica and Cambridge.
According to city-data.com, Lowell has 3 of the most dangerous intersections in the state. Although this most recent fatal accident did not occur at these intersections, the fact that many of Lowell’s streets are not particularly safe should give its residents pause.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Most pedestrians are safety minded and take proper precautions when crossing the street. However, even the safest person can be struck by a negligent motorist. Factors that cause pedestrian accidents include:
- Intoxicated drivers
- Drivers texting and driving
- Failure to stop at a stop sign or red light
- Failure to observe pedestrians in a cross-walk
- Making a turn at an intersection without seeing pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle
- Failure to stop for pedestrians crossing street after exiting a bus
- Poor street lighting
Electric vehicles have also been found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to be 40% more likely to strike pedestrians. People walking in crosswalks or on the streets cannot hear or detect an approaching electric car. The percentage increases in residential areas where there are more turns.
Liability and Insurance Coverage
Pedestrians are generally given the benefit of the doubt in an accident with a motor vehicle. Unless the person ran into the roadway between parked cars in the middle of the street, then a motorist is much more likely to be held responsible for an accident.
Since texting and driving is so prevalent, a Lowell car accident lawyer can subpoena cell phone records to determine if the driver was texting or talking on his phone when the accident happened. Of course, an officer can also detect if the driver had been drinking.
Roadway design and insufficient lighting can also be factors in the accident that are the responsibility of the city or county. If an expert opines that there is municipal liability in this area, then your Lowell car accident lawyer can take the proper steps to provide timely notice to the municipality of your injury claim.
If the motorist is liable for your injuries, then the insurer for the vehicle is the carrier to whom the claim is directed. Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state, you are entitled to use the PIP benefits under the motorist’s auto liability policy to pay for your medical costs incurred within 2-years of the accident and lost income up to $8000 unless you have health care coverage. If so, then PIP pays up to the first $2000. PIP pays 75% of your gross wages up to the limits. PIP benefits are also available for funeral expenses and ordinary and necessary household services.
If this was a hit-and-run or the driver was uninsured, then you can use the PIP benefits under your own auto liability policy if you have one. If anyone in your household has a policy, you may use that as well.
As an injured victim, you can bring a claim against the responsible driver once you meet the no-fault threshold. In Massachusetts, you must either incur medical costs of at least $2000 or have sustained a permanent and serious disfigurement such as a broken limb or loss of hearing or sight. In many accidents, just a trip by ambulance to the hospital and use of diagnostic tests can easily meet the dollar threshold.
Even for uninsured claims, you must meet the threshold and show that the uninsured motorist, who could be a hit-and-run driver, was the substantial cause of your accident. Uninsured claims are handled through your own carrier and are resolved through binding arbitration rather than a jury trial.
What To Do If Injured
If you were injured as a pedestrian, here are some things you can do:
- Stay at the scene and wait for medical assistance
- If you able, ask if anyone saw the accident and if so, if they can provide you or the police their contact information
- Get photos taken of you and of the scene, vehicle and other party
- Do not talk to anyone other than police about what happened
- Do not refuse medical assistance even if you feel only slightly injured
- Contact your auto liability insurer
- Do not give any statements to investigators or insurance adjusters
- Contact and retain a Lowell car accident lawyer
Your attorney can handle all aspects of your case from contacting all insurers, interviewing witnesses, investigating the scene, and compiling all relevant documents including police report, employment records, and medical bills. If necessary, your lawyer can arrange for medical liens.
Damages in Pedestrian Accident Cases
No case is a slam-dunk, regardless if the other party admits liability. You still must prove all damages including the nature and extent of your injuries in order to obtain the most compensation available.
- Past and future wage losses
- Past and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
- Diminution in enjoyment and quality of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
If a fatality, a claim may be brought by the administrator for the decedent’s estate for the benefit of immediate family members. Damages include:
- Medical expenses for final treatment or care
- Income the decedent could reasonably have expected to earn in his or her lifetime
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering of the decedent if observed to have visibly suffered before succumbing
- The care, companionship, comfort, guidance, advice and counsel the decedent would have provided to family members
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or exhibited a willful indifference to the safety of others
Retain the Law Offices of Burns and Jain
Get the compensation your case deserves by retaining the experienced Lowell car accident lawyers from Burns and Jain. Our attorneys have been representing the interests of injured victims throughout Massachusetts for decades and have obtained millions in compensation in even the most difficult cases. Call our offices today at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation.