After you sustain severe personal injuries in a pedestrian accident, you may decide to find the liable parties and hold them accountable for the accident. You could determine the parties at fault by knowing the actions that caused the pedestrian accident. However, determining fault in a pedestrian accident is hard because it involves road users in two different circumstances.
Typically, pedestrian accidents involve a driver as the liable party and the pedestrian as the victim. The assessment of the liable party’s fault requires you to access accurate information. It is recommended that you work with a personal injury attorney who will take on your matter and represent you in court or meetings with insurance adjusters.
Additionally, your lawyer’s help is crucial in preparing for your meetings, as he/she will gather the necessary evidence and information to hold the liable parties accountable. At G. Dallas Horton & Associates, we help pedestrian accident victims receive the compensation they deserve. Over the years, we have handled numerous personal injury claims for Las Vegas, NV, clients involving pedestrian accidents.
The Nature of Pedestrian Accidents
Often, a pedestrian involved in a road accident suffers more harm than the motorist because he/she is exposed to the high external impact. For example, the exterior body of an SUV can cause severe deep tissue injuries and excessive bleeding upon the first impact. This means that the pedestrian risks facing numerous disadvantages, including a permanent change in his/her lifestyle.
Moreover, some accident victims have died from high-impact collisions on the road, especially if the motorist was speeding. These cases will evoke many investigations on the accident to help the victim’s family receive compensation. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial for your case’s success, as he/she has in-depth experience.
You should also note that the circumstances surrounding your accident will determine the nature of your case. Hence, every client’s legal process varies depending on the case facts. Since your attorney will rely on the various evidential sources you present, we recommend giving accurate information that can help determine the party at fault.
The Legal Approach in Determining Fault
Upon consulting an attorney to help determine fault in a pedestrian accident, he/she will rely on specific legal principles to increase the chances of you receiving compensation. However, he/she should develop the best argument to persuade the judge or insurance adjuster to award damages. The most suitable claim to present after a pedestrian accident is negligence.
By presenting the claim, your attorney can show that the defendant directly caused the accident after failing to uphold a duty of care. Moreover, you should note that presenting a negligent claim requires you to provide sufficient evidence. You will prove that the defendant played a role in causing harm to you and is liable by providing these evidentiary sources.
The four elements to satisfy in a negligence claim are:
The Defendant Had a Duty of Care
The first aspect that your attorney must prove is that the defendant had a duty of care while on the road, meaning that he/she ought to have observed it. The liable party should be aware of the required standard of care expected of him/her at any time.
The basis for this expectation comes from the reasonable person’s point of view. Under the "reasonable person" doctrine, all people are expected to uphold rationale and acceptable actions regardless of supervision from law enforcement officers or any other means.
Subsequently, any person who acts rationally should follow regulations and apply reasonableness when making decisions. Applying the rule to your case, your lawyer should establish that any driver on the road should uphold reasonable driving practices.
On top of this, the Nevada Statute imposes additional duties of care to drivers by creating regulations for road users. For example, driving under the influence is prohibited because it exposes road users to potential harm. Through the applicability of different rules, aggrieved parties can determine the party liable for causing the accident.
When proving that the defendant should have upheld his/her duty of care, your attorney can establish several additional elements that strengthen the case. For example, the attorney may demonstrate that a liable driver could reasonably foresee his/her actions to be a safety hazard for pedestrians. Subsequently, the argument can show that the motorist should have taken measures to avert the impending danger that caused the accident.
Further, your lawyer should also show that it is just and reasonable to expect the liable party to observe the legal responsibility of care. Including this point in the argument will prevent the defendant from relying on counterclaims to deflect liability to another party. Therefore, your attorney will aim to show that only the defendant should be responsible for the accident based on the duty of care expected from him/her.
A Breach of Duty of Care Occurred
Secondly, your attorney should establish that the liable party in question breached his/her duty of care. The breach forms the main part of your case because it shows the unlawful actions that led to the pedestrian accident. As a result, your attorney should gather sufficient proof that shows the defendant’s breach, resulting in your injury.
During the case preparation, you must consider different factors to help in presenting a credible case. For example, your lawyer should establish whether the defendant had a genuine reason for breaching the duty of care, leading to the accident. An event like that would occur where the driver was trying to avert danger and ended up causing the pedestrian accident that caused harm to you.
If no circumstances related to genuine inevitableness are reported, you will have a valid claim against the defendant. You can, therefore, show the exact actions that breached the duty of care. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that your claims should have reasonable evidential sources to back them. This way, you are assured that the judge or insurance adjuster hearing your case is persuaded to grant compensation.
The common actions in a breach that could cause a pedestrian accident include:
Ignoring Traffic Signs
Motorists should observe traffic signs, particularly at intersections, to prevent traffic congestion and create safety hazards. Despite this, some drivers ignore traffic signs because they are often in a rush or out of impunity. Consequently, a driver may proceed into a junction or intersection without clearance, causing a pedestrian accident.
During the trial or in meetings with your insurance adjuster, your lawyer will focus on the legal provisions that prohibit running red lights. Moreover, it helps to include any proof sources on the defendant’s behavior when presenting your case.
These include surveillance footage, witness statements, or police reports that were recorded moments after the accident. Through these additional information sources, the judge or adjuster will find fault in the liable party and determine the best award of damages for you.
Driving Under the Influence
As mentioned, driving under the influence is detrimental for road users because it impairs the motorist’s vision, cognitive function, and ability to make rational decisions. Normally, most drivers will drive under the influence of alcohol and surpass the Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08%.
Alternatively, the pedestrian accident may have occurred because of driving under the influence of drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, among others. You should also note that drivers may be liable for a DUI despite using prescription medicine or medication bought over the counter. This is because the medication will alter the body’s normal functioning, so drivers should not operate vehicles after feeling the drugs’ side effects.
Based on the defendant’s DUI resort, your attorney will have an easier time proving that a breach of duty of care occurred. Despite the ease of access to information, your lawyer must still prove that you did not play a role in causing the accident.
Hence, the focus should be on showing that the defendant broke the law, making you a victim who did not foresee the danger until it was too late. For example, the drunk driver may have veered off the road from impaired vision and caught you off guard on the sidewalk. Subsequently, your lawyer can present the case circumstances for your benefit.
Making Wrong Turns on the Road
Drivers should only make turns in authorized road sections to avoid causing accidents. One of the most important precautions to observe is to ensure that the road is clear before making a left turn. In doing so, a driver must observe both sides of the road and establish that no pedestrian is walking towards the vehicle. Afterward, he/she can proceed to the left and keep moving.
If the liable party in your case did not follow the necessary procedures, your lawyer could gather evidence to show that a breach occurred. In doing so, your attorney may request surveillance footage from the police department to establish fault.
Alternatively, any witnesses who were present just before the accident will be useful in proving your case. As long as they can provide details that show the driver making a careless turn, your attorney will have a credible case to present.
Driving at High Speeds
Drivers who exceed the speed limit in unauthorized areas of the road are responsible for most pedestrian accidents. This is because speed makes it difficult to control the vehicle so that the driver lacks enough reaction time to prevent an accident. Speeding in zones with crosswalks is more dangerous because pedestrians are prone to crossing the road at different intervals. As a result, a driver who engages in high speeds will be liable if any collisions arise. The driver may be unable to brake on time due to the loss of control in the vehicle.
Additionally, drivers who ignore speed limits in special zones may be answerable to more claims and charges. For example, motorists should observe speed limits set up in residential areas and school zones because they aim at protecting children. Thus, if subsequent investigations reveal that the driver broke the limit, your claim of negligence is valid.
Driving While Distracted
Distracted driving is another common cause of road accidents, including hitting pedestrians. There are different sources of distractions for drivers on the road, so your attorney must establish the liable party’s exact cause in your case.
Firstly, the motorist may have given into visual distractions by using the phone while driving. As the most common distractor, drivers are expected to remain cautious and refrain from texting or receiving calls. Thus, violations of this safety guideline lead to a breach that causes the accident.
Additionally, the driver may have faced manual distractions, whereby he/she disengaged his hands from controlling the wheel. For example, if the motorist was eating while using only one hand to move the wheel, he/she may find it difficult to swerve the car on time to avoid hitting you. Consequently, you will fall victim to the accident and suffer significant harm.
Lastly, drivers are also prone to cognitive distractions. These occur when the driver’s mind is focused on different things, especially when dealing with stressful situations. Despite this, a liable driver cannot use cognitive distractions as an excuse because he/she ought to uphold the duty of care while on the road.
Poor Road Conditions
Sometimes, the driver may not be directly responsible for the pedestrian accident if the road was in a poor state. For example, if the driver could not avoid driving off the main road to evade roadblocks and potholes, he/she will not be directly liable for the incident.
In other situations, the traffic lights in different road sections may malfunction from poor maintenance, causing confusion between drivers and pedestrians. Some malfunctions have caused accidents after the green light, and the ‘walk’ sign both lit up simultaneously. Consequently, some motorists may be unable to brake on time to prevent a collision.
In these cases, liability may fall on the road maintenance authorities instead because the malfunction is the primary cause of the accident. However, the defendant must prove that the poor road conditions were adverse, leading him/her to drive off the road or proceed into an intersection without notice that pedestrians were also about to cross.
Your lawyer can go through the accident report to establish whether the claims against the maintenance authority are valid. If the evidence points towards poor road maintenance as the collision’s direct cause, you can sue the body or a specific officer in charge of your area’s maintenance projects.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Pedestrian accidents are also commonly caused by poor maintenance of a vehicle, leading to brake failure or sudden acceleration. For example, if the liable party’s car stopped just before a crosswalk, a car malfunction may cause it to jerk forward and hit you or a loved one.
In case of this occurrence, you should inform your attorney of the exact occurrence that led to your accident. The information will prove that the driver's car was poorly maintained and that he/she should be liable for the accident.
The Driver's Breach was the Direct Cause of the Accident
Thirdly, proving causation is a necessary step in the claim of negligence. Determining fault requires you to provide a credible argument that shows the consequences of the defendant's breach. Thus, your presentation’s flow should demonstrate the direct effects caused by the breach, particularly that you suffered personal injuries.
The legal measure applied when proving causation is the "but for"test. By making logical conclusions backed by evidence, your attorney should aim to show that, but for the defendant's breach, you would not have suffered from the pedestrian accident.
Sometimes, your lawyer's argument may be challenging to put across, especially if multiple causes led to the accident. For example, if the motorist was trying to evade an oncoming speeding vehicle and ended up veering off the road to hit you, there are multiple causes of the accident.
The case assessment should follow a system that identifies each party's fault if any. For example, if the oncoming vehicle violated the law by overspeeding, the third-party driver is partly liable for your accident.
Similarly, if the driver who hit you could have undertaken a more reasonable reaction that could prevent an accident, he/she may also be liable for causation. The judge will go through the different facts and determine the best approach to determining fault.
If your attorney presents his/her arguments articulately, the judge or insurance adjuster listening to your case will have enough details to reach a fair decision. In return, you will receive rightful compensation for the pedestrian accident to help you make a full recovery.
You Suffered Harm from the Accident
The final element in determining fault through negligence requires you to prove your entitlement to damages. Typically, you will have an easier time recovering damages if your first three elements are well presented. Nevertheless, your lawyer still needs to prove the costs mentioned in your demand letter for credibility.
Subsequently, you will have to adequately prepare your documentary evidence because it serves a significant role in supporting your claims. Some common claims to raise after determining the defendant's fault include:
After sustaining serious injuries from a pedestrian accident, you will need medical attention to examine the effect on your body. Thus, you are likely to incur many medical expenses based on the numerous tests and consultations that your doctor will recommend.
Moreover, you may also have to spend time in the hospital as an inpatient if the doctors need to track your recovery. While medical supervision is necessary, it results in expensive medical care that you may not afford. As a result, you will require additional financial support to help you repay the bills and return to your life before the accident.
We recommend retaining all medical reports, receipts, and images you obtained from your doctors’ consultations. For example, retaining your receipts for inpatient treatment, imaging services, and prescription fees will be useful in providing credible evidence on the expenses that you incurred.
Further, you should also include any additional costs you had to pay for after the accident as a follow-up for treatment. For example, you may have begun sessions with a physiotherapist or a psychologist to help you deal with the accident’s physical and mental trauma. Therefore, the defendant should also be liable for the extra costs that arise directly from the accident.
Loss of Wages and Earning Capacity
Additionally, you may seek to recover for loss of wages or future earning capacity. The claim will be substantial if the types of injuries you suffered from hinder your ability to move and work like you used to do. For example, if you suffered from spinal injuries that caused paralysis, your earning capacity is limited to non-mobility activities.
The consequences may be detrimental to victims who had an established career in active fields like athletics, dance, and construction. When your attorney presents all required information on the exact losses you face, the court determines the most suitable amount to compensate you.
Additional claims to raise include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Poor quality of life after the accident
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Working with a highly experienced lawyer is essential in determining fault in a pedestrian accident. The information you offer your lawyer helps you recover damages for the harm and damage caused to you. Eventually, you will receive monetary compensation from the court or from an insurance company to help you restore your previous life.
At G. Dallas Horton & Associates, we provide excellent legal services in the field of Personal Injury Law. Our goal is to help our clients obtain rightful compensation after sustaining a personal injury, including pedestrian accidents. Our team is well equipped to handle your matter and provide specialized legal assistance for increased chances of a successful case outcome. If you or a loved one needs legal services to help determine fault in Las Vegas, Nevada, call us today at 702-820-5917.