Being a pedestrian injured in a motor vehicle accident can be a tricky situation. Sometimes, the driver’s insurance company will cover your injuries, but that’s not always a guaranteed solution. The World Health Organization (WHO) mentions that pedestrians make up vulnerable road users responsible for half of all road fatalities. Seeking out a Norfolk pedestrian accident lawyer can help to secure compensation for injuries. However, it’s essential to determine whether it’s worth it to get a skilled accident attorney or not.
What Counts as a Pedestrian Accident?
Pedestrian accidents occur between someone who is not in a motor vehicle and someone that is. There are hundreds of ways for a pedestrian accident to happen. They may result from distracted drivers or a reckless driver, on occasion. Careless drivers that don’t pay attention to the rules of the road are more likely to cause pedestrian accidents as a result. The accident injuries that result may be severe. Automobile accidents may be covered by the driver’s auto insurance policy. However, in Virginia, it’s likely that the driver isn’t even insured. In these cases, the procedure for settling the matter may be different. A skilled auto accident lawyer may be your best shot at getting a settlement from an at-fault driver.
Determining Negligence in a Norfolk Accident
When a pedestrian is injured in a car accident, they might take the driver to court. The at-fault party, in this case, might be assumed to be the driver, but that’s not always the case. Occasionally, the driver might be at fault for the accident. In such cases, the driver might be doing something that might have made them distracted. Negligence in these cases is clearly defined. The driver’s insurance company may cover the damages for the incident. However, this will depend on the report of the insurance adjuster. The insurance company hires these individuals to ensure that they don’t overpay. The settlement they offer to the pedestrian will be based on the facts of the case. Having a Norfolk pedestrian accident lawyer may help with securing the payment from the guilty party.
In some cases, the pedestrian may be the at-fault party. There are several scenarios where the pedestrian may be at fault. Among these are:
- Jaywalking or not obeying the traffic signs posted for their safety
- Crossing against a traffic signal on purpose
- Entering a street or a highway while under the influence of alcohol
- Walking in locations where pedestrian access is restricted or not permitted
In any of these situations, the pedestrian would be the one at fault. The police report will usually outline the facts of the matter as the investigating officers see them. The police report will also record any eyewitness statements to corroborate the evidence they find on the scene.
Virginia’s Contributory Negligence Rule
Negligent drivers are the ones usually taken to be at fault in a motor vehicle accident. Their negligence may be due to several factors, not limited to drunk driving or distracted driving. A pedestrian accident attorney can offer you legal advice on how to approach the situation. An experienced attorney might be in the best situation to advise you whether it makes sense filing a suit against a driver.
In Norfolk, if a pedestrian is judged to be contributory to the accident in any way, they lose all entitlement to compensation. The contributory negligence rule requires that the other party be 100% at fault for the pedestrian to receive any settlement. Naturally, the insurance companies utilize this law to its fullest extent. The insurance adjuster will investigate the accident thoroughly. Their investigation tries to find any evidence that shows the pedestrian might be culpable for some part of the accident. In these cases, a skilled accident lawyer may be the only way to avoid losing your compensation settlement.
In your initial consultation with your law firm, you will probably have to tell them about the incident. Go into as much detail as possible so your accident lawyer can determine if the insurance company has any grounds for taking the matter to court. The personal injury attorney will look at fair settlements that will allow the injured party to pay their medical bills and cater for pain and suffering. Monetary damages may take several forms. Occasionally, the payment may also contain punitive damages to warn off other drivers from making the same mistake. If the injuries sustained leave the person unable to work, future injuries might also be included in the final compensatory damages.
Dealing with an Uninsured Driver
Sometimes, when an accident happens, the driver may not have insurance. Virginia’s DMV allows drivers to operate without insurance if they pay the state’s uninsured motor vehicle fee. This fee comes up to a mere $500 and is cheaper than paying for third-party insurance within the state. Pedestrians can take out uninsured motorist coverage to deal with getting into an accident with a motorist without insurance. You have the option of opting out of uninsured motorist coverage but it’s not recommended. In situations like these, you won’t have insurance coverage of any kind.
What About Underinsured Drivers?
In many of these accidents, the driver might be covered by their policy, but the amount of the policy isn’t enough to deal with the expenses incurred by a hospital stay. Within the state, hospital bills may come up to quite a bit. With the minimum coverage available, the driver is not going to be able to meet this obligation. What should the pedestrian do in this case? Many insurers offer underinsured coverage as part of their insurance packages. They might be included by default, but consulting your insurer helps to verify that you’re covered for an underinsured driver as well.
Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents may demonstrate severe or catastrophic injuries of several types. Some of these may be fatal injuries. If a loved one dies from their catastrophic injuries, you might need to contact an accident lawyer to file a wrongful death suit on your behalf. Pedestrian injuries may encompass traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries or other types of life-altering injuries. When these are taken into account, settlements may need to be adjusted to reflect them.
Medical treatment may take several forms. Depending on if you have severe injuries requiring surgery, your medical costs will also differ. In your personal injury claim, you may cite your medical treatment and its costs as part of your settlement. A personal injury lawyer dealing with auto accidents will have a clear idea of how to treat with accident victims in this scenario. Virginia’s personal injury law offers some redress for dealing with offenders.
Choosing a Professional
Not all car accident lawyers are the same. Choosing one that understands the system that you’re dealing with is of the utmost importance. Since Virginia law lens heavily towards the at-fault party, having a lawyer that can navigate the system and deal with any issues that may arise can help you secure compensatory payment. Remember, you are not entitled to compensation unless the at-fault party is shown to be 100% at fault. Police accident reports can help to corroborate the evidence and show that the driver was the person responsible. Your lawyer should be able to help you get those reports and formulate your defense.