An insurance adjuster investigates every injury claim assigned to them. Injury claims involving pedestrians are no different. The insurance adjuster must thoroughly examine every discoverable fact before making a liability decision. Because juries may favor a pedestrian over the driver that hit them, insurance companies may give these cases a more thorough analysis and investigation than they would in a car versus car accident involving clear liability. So, what are the main causes of pedestrian accidents?
Insurance adjusters may try to have significant contact with an injured person after their accident (assuming they do not already have a lawyer), so do not be fooled by their sympathy and interest. The insurance company is not merely going to give up and pay the claim just because the case involves a pedestrian. The adjuster will still utilize any argument they can against a pedestrian to argue the pedestrian somehow contributed to causing the accident or was negligent. This can ultimately affect if and how much an insurance company may pay. This article explores causes of pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrian Accidents and Speeding
There is nothing profound or scientific in saying that the faster a driver travels the more likely it is for them to be in an accident. Evidence of a highspeed collision can often seem evident by the severity of a vehicle’s damage. But the issue of speeding is not always so clear in instances where there was not a lot of damage. For instance, high speeds may be easy to allege and prove by the visual damage and witness accounts. But what about a pedestrian that was injured by a vehicle that was only driving 5 miles over the speed limit?
Pedestrians should be able to walk with the reasonable expectation that drivers are obeying the speed limit. In such a case as this where the speeding that contributed to the injured pedestrian, there is likely no way of easily proving that the other driver was speeding. A severe injury case with those facts may require an extensive investigation by their personal injury lawyer. The lawyer may even want to see if there is a “black box” or other evidence that may not be accessible without a thorough investigation.
Disobeying Traffic Signals and Signs
Traffic controls are there for our safety. Almost by definition, drivers who disregard traffic controls disregard the safety and wellbeing of others around them. This is especially concerning for pedestrians who, unlike drivers, have no vehicle cabin to protect them if struck by a vehicle. In the event of an accident involving a pedestrian hit by a driver that ran a light or disregarded a sign, it would be significant to locate a witness that can back up those facts. If the at-fault driver contests liability, a witness can tell the adjuster the truth of what really happened.
Texting While Driving
In 2018, The Hands-Free Georgia Act was signed into law. In brief, holding cell phones, or other electronic devices, while driving is against the law in Georgia. The Hands-Free Georgia Act’s whole point was to reduce accidents caused by drivers that are distracted because of their phones. While things have improved, many drivers continue to break the law. Proving texting or cell phone use during an accident can be challenging.
Unless an independent witness is willing to go on record that they witnessed an at-fault driver texting right before an accident, there is probably little that can be done to prove this point. However, it may be possible for a skilled attorney to correlate time-stamped cell phone activity (including texting) with the time of an accident as listed on the responding officer’s report. This can be done by obtaining the other driver’s cell phone bill and calling records from their phone company. This may require a lawsuit or in the case of an accompanying criminal case, law enforcement or prosecutors may also try to obtain these records.
Other Distracted Driving Examples
Texting is by no means the only cause of distracted driving. We have seen examples including distracted drivers that have caused accidents while eating and driving or looking at themselves in the mirror. Some distracted drivers even read books while they drive or are engaged in serious conversations with their passengers. Distracted driving does not have to include a phone or texting.
Distractions such as these are especially commonplace at busy intersections where stop-and-go traffic, intersections, and pedestrians meet. Given the proximity between cars and pedestrians in busy intersections, it is possible that a pedestrian saw the activities of a driver before they were hit. It takes only a second to see a driver trying to eat, put on makeup, or manage their passenger or pet. While an independent witness to such facts is preferable, the injured pedestrian’s account is evidence.
In one person’s word versus another’s be prepared for the adjuster to challenge the injured pedestrian’s account. But remember, in some cases, it is up to a judge or jury, and not the adjuster. If an adjuster denies an insurance claim based on liability, there is still the possibility of taking the driver to court. Remember that liability and negligence is ultimately up to a Court of Law and not a police officer, police report or insurance adjuster.
Suppose a driver in an accident involving a pedestrian is found to have caused the accident. If that happens, the legal conclusion would be that the at-fault driver was negligent. In that case, this means that the driver arguably failed to exercise reasonable care in the same way that a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances. If negligent, then that driver is then legally liable for the damages they caused.
For a pedestrian, this could include damage for their clothing or smart phone as well as their physical injuries. Damages claimed by a pedestrian may include medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering experienced because of their accident-related injuries. In pedestrian accidents, questions to do with negligence and liability can quickly become complicated and frustrating. If the insurance adjuster assigned to your case seems more argumentative than helpful, this may be a sign that you need outside help from an attorney.
Can a pedestrian be responsible for causing a traffic accident? Yes! There is a myth about pedestrian right-of-ways. Many people think that the pedestrian is always in the clear because they generally have the right-of-way. Unfortunately, it is not very accurate. Every pedestrian is capable of being negligent. Drivers have their set of rules and responsibilities, and pedestrians have theirs.
In Georgia, it is unlawful for pedestrians to suddenly walk or run from a roadside curb and into the path of a close and oncoming vehicle making it impractical for the driver to yield (see Georgia Code § 40-6-91b). Additionally, every pedestrian crossing a roadway, regardless of if in a crosswalk or not, must yield to the right of way of moving vehicles unless the pedestrian has already entered the roadway under safe conditions (see Georgia Code § 40-6-92a).
Additionally, pedestrians are to cross the street using marked crosswalks found between adjacent intersections (see Georgia Code § 40-6-92c). However crosswalks are not always available, so any insurance adjuster making this argument should be doublechecked regarding whether there was a crosswalk for the person to use. A pedestrian’s failure to heed any of these laws and rules could result in a denied injury claim or claim with reduced damages because of shared liability. Remember, never assume that the adjuster’s word is the final one. Injured pedestrians to have options.
Adjuster Strategies and Pedestrian Accidents
In cases where there is no obvious negligence found against a pedestrian, an adjuster may look for accident-circumstances that could increase sympathy for their driver to a jury. For example, the adjuster may begin to ask more questions that could help their insured (person that bought the insurance policy and caused the accident). If the accident happened at night, the adjuster may ask what color clothes the pedestrian had on? Were they wearing dark clothes? Were there any streetlights? Did the pedestrian have on any reflective clothing or shoes?
When an insurance adjuster asks these or any other questions, they are trying to help their insured’s case. Remember, their loyalty is to their insured. The answers you give them could cause them to deny your case or at least devalue it based on assigning some of the negligence to you. It is always a best practice to not speak to an insurance company adjuster or representative without first speaking to an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. Once you hire an attorney, they can speak to the insurance company for you and you don’t have to worry about saying something that can harm your case.
If you or someone you know has been severely injured in an accident because of another person’s negligence, get the legal help you need. Scholle Law would like to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our experienced injury team has a proven track record of success. We look forward to being there for you!
Call Scholle Law today at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.