Pedestrians are especially vulnerable against negligent drivers. Injuries can be severe and can cause you to miss work and weigh you down with significant medical bills. Drivers have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, sidewalks, parking lots, and any place occupied by vehicles and pedestrians. If you are injured in a pedestrian accident, you need the help of a Washington personal injury attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we are trusted Bellingham pedestrian accident lawyers who can help you get back on your feet.
Common Pedestrian Accident Causes and Locations
While all pedestrians should be careful and look before crossing a road, if a driver is operating their vehicle negligently, tragedies can occur. Some common situations where pedestrian accidents can happen are:
- Failing to check for pedestrians while turning,
- Failing to check for pedestrians before driving through an intersection,
- Driving distracted,
- Driving drunk, and
- Failing to obey traffic laws
This is not an exhaustive list, and drivers in Washington have a responsibility to operate vehicles safely. If they fail to do so and injure a pedestrian, they may be liable for damages.
Areas where pedestrians and motor vehicles share space are at high risk for these collisions. These include:
- Sidewalks next to major intersections and roadways;
- Curbs, especially where people enter and exit vehicles;
- Crosswalks; and
- Parking lots.
Even in places where a vehicle is traveling slowly, an accident can still happen. These accidents can cause significant injuries, and the victim might need the services of a Bellingham pedestrian accident lawyer.
Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
Washington State has some of the strictest pedestrian safety laws in the country. Nevertheless, accidents still happen. Most of the time, the onus is on the driver to keep an eye out for pedestrians. State law says that every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. However, there are some rules that pedestrians must follow as well. Pedestrians must use sidewalks when they are available, and if not, they must walk on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic so that drivers can see them more easily.
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that courts will take both parties’ actions into account when determining fault. Under this system, victims can receive compensation even if they are 99% at fault for the accident. In some cases, a pedestrian may share some of the fault for an accident by crossing at an improper spot or failing to follow traffic laws. In these situations, the victim’s compensation is reduced by their fault percentage, but their fault does not bar recovery completely. If you were in an accident and facing fault issues, contact a Bellingham pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
The difference in size and speed between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian is what makes these collisions so dangerous. Even at low speeds, a person can suffer devastating injuries. The most common injuries connected with pedestrian and motor vehicle collisions are:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Soft tissue damage,
- Spinal injuries,
- Cuts and lacerations,
- Road rash,
- Internal bleeding, and
- Damage to internal organs.
Many of these injuries require a doctor’s visit and, in some cases, emergency medical care. Victims may need extensive rehabilitation and support afterward. Some are never the same, and in tragic cases, some lose their lives.
Compensation for Pedestrian Accident Victims
If a negligent driver is at fault for a pedestrian accident, the injured party is entitled to compensation for their losses. The amount of compensation depends on the losses sustained. No two cases are exactly alike, which is why it is so important to contact a Bellingham personal injury lawyer to review a possible Bellingham pedestrian accident lawsuit. Generally, recoverable compensatory damages in these cases include:
- Lost wages;
- Medical costs;
- Emotional distress;
- Permanent disfigurement, disability, and scarring;
- Pain and suffering;
- Damage to property; and
- Ongoing and future medical costs,
In severe cases, a victim can ask for punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. However, these are only available when the defendant’s behavior was outside the scope of usual negligence, excessively dangerous, or intentional. The amount a victim can recover varies from case to case.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
The most immediate concern after a pedestrian accident is your safety. If you are injured, seek medical care immediately. Make sure to document your injuries and any treatment needed to ensure you receive proper compensation. Next, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss a possible claim. Evidence Bellingham pedestrian accident lawyers will want to collect includes:
- Police reports,
- Witness statements,
- Photos of injuries and property damage,
- Medical bills,
- Medical records,
- Documentation to request time off work if necessary, and
- Any other information related to the accident or injuries.
Being injured in a pedestrian accident can be devastating. It is also important to remember that every possible claim has its statute of limitations, which is the time limit a party has to take legal action. In general, Washington State has a three-year statute of limitations for pedestrian accident claims against negligent drivers.
Trust the Pedestrian Accident Attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner
If you are a pedestrian injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the Bellingham pedestrian accident lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner. With over 50 years in practice, we have collected millions on behalf of our clients and received recognition from clients and peers alike. We empower our clients through education and skilled representation to help ensure they receive the best possible outcome that fits their needs. Dealing with insurance companies or a negligent party can seem overwhelming, but we are here to support you every step of the way. We work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that there are no up-front costs or fees and no hourly rates. If you are struggling with the aftermath of an accident and need support and advice, you are not alone. Call one of our offices or fill out our online contact form to get started today.