Determining fault in a pedestrian crash comes down to finding the negligent driver. A pedestrian accident can cause severe injuries and damages. If you want to seek fair compensation, hiring a personal injury attorney could be the smart thing to do. You might not want to depend on the insurance provider to determine accountability, which makes assigning responsibility difficult by nature. The insurer doesn't have your best interests at heart while a lawyer could fight for your best possible results. The experienced attorneys at the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney can prove the defendant's negligence and how it caused your injuries with adequate evidence.
How Fault is Determined in Pedestrian Accident
There is a likelihood that you might be involved in a collision at some point in your life. Hopefully, the accident is not severe. If it is major, you might require extensive medical care.
While it is sometimes apparent who is accountable, that is not always the case. Like many things, gray areas exist as far as determining liability in a pedestrian accident is concerned.
After an accident in which several parties are blaming one another, things could be complicated. It is the insurer's role to determine what and who caused your accident so they could determine who pays.
How Insurance Firms Determine Accountability
After you have brought a personal injury claim with an insurance company following a pedestrian accident, the insurer will assign your case to an insurance adjuster who deals with investigations and claim settlement.
The adjuster will:
- Research your accident
- Talk to witnesses
- Analyze your medical reports
- Verify information about the insurance policy of the driver involved in the accident
- Examine your injuries
After the adjuster has determined who caused the accident, they can assign a percentage of accountability to all parties. The fault is determined based on negligence. Negligence happens when an individual fails to exercise the level of care a reasonable and prudent individual would under similar circumstances.
If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you are entitled to receive compensation through a personal injury case. However, to have a valid claim, it is essential to establish that the defendant was negligent.
The law defines the term "negligence" as the failure to use reasonable care to stop injuring others or yourself. An individual is negligent if they:
- Do something that a prudent cautious individual wouldn't do in similar circumstances, or
- Fail to act in a manner that a reasonable cautious individual would behave in similar circumstances.
There are four elements of negligence that you must demonstrate to prove the defendant was negligent:
Duty of Care
Every person must use care when engaging in a task where a person can be hurt. The law defines the duty of care as everyone is accountable for the consequences of their willful conduct and injuries caused to another person by their behavior.
When determining whether the defendant owed you the duty of care, the judge will consider foreseeability. The rule of the thumb is that the courts have adopted that the defendant owes anyone who might be put in risk by their action. For instance, a person operating a motor vehicle owes other road users the duty of care. Should the driver cause an accident and you are injured, the motorist has broken the duty of due care.
Breach of Care
After the duty of care is proven, you should demonstrate a breach of the duty. Deciding whether the breach happened is a factually dependent issue. The question, in this case, is what did the defendant do. If, for instance, the motorist was on their cell phone and caused your pedestrian accident, the breach is established and makes you sustain injuries.
You Should Prove Causation
Causation refers to the breach of duty by the liable party that caused your injuries.
You Suffered Damages
The last element of negligence is proving that you were injured or harmed. If you did not suffer any injury following the crash, you do not have a valid claim.
Establishing that the defendant was negligent is more challenging than most pedestrian accident victims realize. A skilled lawyer should leverage their legal knowledge to outline the negligent conduct of the liable motorist. The attorney will conduct thorough investigations, interview witnesses, and gather essential evidence. Depending on your accident's nature, your lawyer can also engage an accident reconstruction expert to build your case.
Possible Responsible Parties in Your Pedestrian Collision
A motor vehicle does not always cause a pedestrian accident. Some accidents can be due to a pedestrian getting knocked to the ground. Common liable parties include:
Most people use sidewalks to exercise. Although most runners share sidewalks responsibly, others are inconsiderate or careless and can easily knock over other road users. Should a jogger hit you, you can easily be knocked over to the ground or even the street, resulting in injuries.
Unrestrained Pet Can Knock You Over
Pet owners who don't have control of the animals could be held responsible for pedestrian collisions. Unrestrained dogs can chase or jump on pedestrians, making them fall and sustain injuries. Although the pet caused your crash, the owner is accountable for the pet's behavior.
Trucks or Buses Too Close to the Sidewalk
Large vehicles such as buses come with side mirrors that extend beyond the car's edge. When a motor vehicle stops, the side mirror might injure any person at the edge of a sidewalk. If the bus is going fast, you might suffer severe injuries.
The drivers are trained on how to handle their motor vehicles. If the driver isn't focusing or is careless and causes injuries, you could bring a personal injury claim for compensation.
Who is Responsible for a Trip and Fall Accident on a Sidewalk?
Usually, there are two parties you can hold answerable for your trip and fall collision on a sidewalk. Specific case facts require that the property owner is responsible, but sometimes it can be the city's fault. For the city government to be responsible, the fall should have occurred on a sidewalk which:
- Is in a public area or on public property
- Does not meet the city standards
- Isn't marked for repairs
Most injuries happen due to uneven sidewalk flags, snow, ice, and construction issues. The government should maintain safe walking areas and mark construction zones clearly.
When the government is solely accountable for your pedestrian accident, you might be limited as far as the total compensation amount is concerned. Your attorney should assist you in understanding your compensation, depending on your case circumstances.
When You are Liable for Your Pedestrian Accident
A reasonable careful individual will take measures to avoid injuring a pedestrian at all costs. Nevertheless, if you behave in a manner that makes it impossible for a cautious driver to stop an accident, the jury or judge will find that you caused the crash.
For instance, if a motorist is driving at the speed limit, and you run behind a parked motor vehicle in front of the motorist's vehicle, the motorist cannot be held accountable. Even when the driver is 10 miles over the speed limit, but you jump out so close to the vehicle that the motorist cannot avoid the accident at any speed, chances are the driver won't be held responsible.
Understanding Comparative Negligence Rule
In personal injury claims, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation from the liable persons. If the at-fault individual is one hundred percent accountable for your collision, you will receive one hundred percent of your damages. However, what takes place if you're partially responsible for your accident?
Under comparative negligence law, the fault is divided between all involved parties. The defendant will claim that your negligence attributed to or caused your injuries. After the defendant claims that, the judge will decide what portion of the fault is because of your negligence. As a result, the percentage of your responsibility will reduce your total damages award.
Different Methods of Determining Fault
Most pedestrian accidents occur as a result of negligence or an unintentional violation. Consequently, it can be challenging to determine who caused the accident. Some of the evidence you can use include:
The Role of a Police Report in Determining Fault in Your Pedestrian Accident
The police officer who responds to the request for assistance at the accident scene generates a police report. You will notice that the police will conduct tasks like capturing photos, taking notes, talking to witnesses, and measuring distances at the accident scene. The police officer is performing these tasks to collect information and later draft a police report. In layman's language, a police report is a summary of details about the accident, such as:
- Accident diagram
- Statements from witnesses and parties involved
- Violation of traffic laws and citations
- Witnesses' identifying information
- Location, date, and time of the accident
- Identifying information of witnesses and parties involved in the pedestrian accident
How to Get a Police Report
Generally, there are two methods of acquiring a police report.
The first method will cost you money. You should get a copy from the police department that drafted your report. Before leaving the accident scene, the police officer should give you a receipt with an identification number for the police report. Contact the agency, pay an administrative fee (fifteen dollars), and collect the copy.
You can also request your personal injury claim representative from your insurance provider a copy. It is not always that the insurer has the report, but it might save you money if they have the report.
Following your accident, when a personal injury claim is brought, the insurer will conduct investigations. The police report is one of the things that the insurance firm will request. It is because the report has information about your crash and is an excellent resource for investigation.
Admissibility in a Court of Law
Although police reports are typically used in claim settlement, admitting the report as proof in a lawsuit isn't clear.
In small courts, the parties involved are allowed to use the reports as proof in their cases. You won't be expected to be aware of the rules of evidence. Therefore, judges will allow you to use a report to explain what happened.
However, if your case proceeds to trial, the police report is hearsay. It's a statement with the police's opinion about your accident that the police officer did not observe.
Violation of Traffic Laws
A driver in California should yield to the right of way to pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk at an intersection. When a car gets to an intersection, and the motorist wants to turn right, the motorist should wait for the pedestrian to cross if a pedestrian is crossing. Moreover, a driver should yield the right of way to a pedestrian at a traffic sign with a flashing yellow light, red light, steady red light, and at a:
- Building entrance
- Private road
- Stop signs
Drivers can't enter a marked crosswalk or an intersection unless there is adequate space on the other side, and the car won't obstruct a pedestrian.
If a driver violates any of these laws, then they should be held accountable for your accident.
How Photos Can Assist in Determining Fault in Your Pedestrian Accident
A photo is worth a thousand words, and following an accident, you will require more than a thousand words to explain what took place. Most people underestimate the power of photos as far as accidents as concerned.
The insurance firm and your attorney will investigate the cause of your accident and the degree of your injuries. Photographs offer the best evidence of these accident aspects because they cannot be distorted nor tampered with. Therefore, you should provide the insurer with many photos; you might not know what image is vital to your personal injury claim.
Here are tips for capturing the best photos:
- Ensure you are using flash settings when capturing images of your accident scene, particularly if it's dark.
- Take photographs from different angles— capture wide-angle images, including close-ups and property damage shots and severe injuries.
- When capturing a close-up, take the photo from one to five feet from the subject. It is advisable to take medium-distance images from ten to fifteen feet away.
- If you are using a camera, ensure both the time and date stamp is correct. If you're using a smartphone, the time and date will be documented automatically in every photo's metadata. However, it is essential to confirm, particularly if you're outside your normal time zone.
The following are the form of photos you should take:
- Surroundings of the accident: Photos of debris on the road, damaged curbs, road surfaces, potholes, and faulty traffic lights are crucial. They might have contributed to the accident. Be sure your photos show the vehicle's location after your accident, nearby businesses, and time of the crash.
- Sustained injuries: Take images of your injuries, including bruises. Don't share the photos on your social media platforms or with anyone other than your experienced lawyer.
- Weather conditions: If the road is icy, wet, or it was a stormy or windy day, this might have caused your pedestrian accident.
- License and insurance details: With a smartphone or camera, take images of the at-fault party's driver's license, insurance information, registration, the make and model of the car involved, and license plate number. Ensure the photos are readable and clear.
What to Do If You are Unable to Take the Photos
You should not endanger yourself further if it's unsafe to capture photographs at the scene of your accident. Some pedestrian accidents occur on busy interstates or highways, and you do not want to risk further injuries by capturing images with the traffic.
You could be severely injured and not capable of taking the photos. A loved one who quickly reached your accident scene could take the pictures for you. You can also request an impartial individual on the accident scene to shoot the photographs.
Depending on the accident's seriousness, the police might not permit individuals to walk around freely to stop them from interfering with the investigations. Once the law enforcers complete the investigations, you can request photographs from them.
One of the first things that most individuals want to do is admitting fault, particularly if they believe it was their fault or believe it might speed up the process and permit them to return to their lives. Well, it does not work like that. Also, the crash might not be your fault.
Admitting fault puts you and your insurance firm lawfully accountable for paying for damages resulting from your accident. The most effective way to be sure that you do not jeopardize the ability to receive compensation is consulting with a skilled attorney.
Do not admit fault to the police officers who respond to the call of assistance. Even when the motorist blames you for your crash, you ought to tell the police what occurred. Do not lie. Should you accept fault, the police will document it in the police report, and the insurer will refer to the report during their investigations.
If the responsible motorist continues to blame you, allow them. They must provide evidence that your conduct resulted in the accident.
Expert Witnesses Could Help in Proving Liability
In situations where the fault is not apparent, your experienced attorney can involve an expert witness. The expert witness will review your pedestrian accident and determine what caused the collision based on evidence. Some of the types of accident experts include:
- Accident reconstructionist: Following a crash, you might think there isn't a way to know what took place, especially if there is no eyewitness testimony or video footage. Well, that is not true. Some experts can recreate the accident, relying on their experience and technology. Often, the accident reconstructionist will prove many events, which are essential in establishing fault.
- Highway safety expert: This is an expert who understands how pedestrian accidents occur, how motorists act, and how conditions like weather, road, time, and traffic pattern could contribute to an accident. The expert might also offer insight into the accident location.
- Engineering expert: Since pedestrian accidents are technical, an engineering expert might be vital in addressing your crash's technical aspect. The engineer could talk about the road's designs, vehicle design, the physical property involved in your accident, and nearby buildings' construction.
How Witness Statements Can Assist in Determining Fault
One of the most effective ways to determine fault is by using witness statements. A witness is any person who saw what took place. It can be an occupant of a motor vehicle, a driver of another motor vehicle, or a pedestrian. The most credible witness statement is one from a person who does not have interests in your case's outcome.
A witness can assist you in proving the defendant caused your pedestrian accident. The testimony lays out how the crash took place. Additionally, the statement could help in preserving the case facts.
Obtaining a Witness Statement Following a Car Crash
The time following the pedestrian accident is essential to collect proof to support your claim. Your priority must be to obtain medical care, particularly if you are severely injured. Nonetheless, if you can, you can do the following to obtain a witness statement.
Before the law enforcer reaches the accident scene, search for people who might have seen what occurred and can offer a statement. If you could, approach the witnesses and ask if they witnessed the accident. If they did, collect their name, contact information, and address. Remember to request them to describe what they heard or saw. The witnesses aren't lawfully responsible for speaking with you or remaining at the accident scene, therefore acting fast and being polite when making the request is essential. You can also ask questions that will assist you in determining their reliability.
There are several methods you could record a witness statement following the accident. If you've a pen and paper, request the witness to write what they witnessed, and then date and sign it. With the witness' consent, you also take a video or audio recording of the statement.
Find a Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, you might be wondering how you will pay the enormous medical bills incurred. The defendant should be held accountable for the accident. However, determining liability is complicated. If you have been injured, it is wise to consult with the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney. Our attorneys can help you determine who is lawfully accountable for your injuries and whether you have a valid case. Call us today at 424-237-3600 to schedule your initial consultation.