If you’ve experienced a personal injury in a pedestrian-related car accident, securing a skilled car accident attorney right away is the best way to protect your rights and see justice done. For victims in Huntsville, TX, Rockdale, TX, and surrounding areas, Brian Gutierrez can provide dedicated and experienced legal expertise.
7 Things to Know About Pedestrian-Involved Car Accidents
1. What Fault and Liability Are All About
Texas operates under a “comparative fault” system in personal injury cases, which means that any compensation you’re entitled to may be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of responsibility for the accident.
In scenarios where the pedestrian bears no fault, such as when you’re hit by a vehicle while on a crosswalk with the signal in your favor, the driver is typically fully liable. However, situations can become more complex if a pedestrian is jaywalking or if both parties are found to have violated traffic laws. Extensive evidence gathering, including eyewitness testimony, traffic camera footage, and police reports, is indispensable in establishing the sequence of events that led to the accident.
2. What Your Legal Rights and Options Are
Under Texas law, an injured pedestrian has the right to pursue damages against the at-fault party. These damages should cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. One of the first steps we recommend is getting a thorough medical evaluation, as documentation of your injuries will be crucial in substantiating any claim.
In situations where the driver responsible for the accident doesn’t have insurance or flees the scene, you might assume that you have no recourse. However, you may still have options through your insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage, and a police investigation or work by your lawyer could turn up a hit-and-run driver. Seeking legal advice right away is important so you can identify other avenues for compensation and have the best chance of finding the at-fault driver.
3. That Insurance Company Negotiations Are Challenging
Dealing with insurance companies after a pedestrian-involved car accident can be very challenging. Insurers often attempt to minimize their payout and may question the severity of your injuries or argue for shared fault to reduce their liability. Any statements you make to insurance adjusters could be used against you, and initial settlement offers are often lower than what you may be entitled to receive.
You are strongly advised to consult with a lawyer before engaging in any conversations with insurance adjusters. A lawyer can handle the communications with the insurance company on your behalf, provide evidence of liability and damages, such as medical records, employment records reflecting lost wages, and documentation of any other losses, and argue from it effectively on your behalf. Legal representation is particularly advisable if the insurance company resists paying a fair settlement: your lawyer will understand the tactics employed by these companies and how to counter them effectively.
4. A Car Accident Attorney Can Help in More Ways Than You Might Think
Our role as your lawyers includes providing legal advice and comprehensively managing your case. This management involves more than you might think. Consider, for example, gathering evidence, which may involve more than just getting some medical records together. It can mean working with investigators to reconstruct the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, obtaining necessary medical documentation, and, if applicable, hiring experts to testify regarding the extent of your injuries.
We also handle the process of filing a lawsuit in Texas court if negotiations do not lead to a satisfactory settlement. This step includes correctly drafting and submitting the necessary legal documents on time, representing you at all pre-trial conferences, and preparing your case for trial. As trial lawyers, we advocate for you before the judge or jury and present your case persuasively to achieve the most favorable outcome. Through each of these phases, we maintain a clear line of communication with you, ensuring you are updated on the progress of your case and making informed decisions.
5. The Statute of Limitations Will Impact Your Case
Understanding the statute of limitations is crucial, as it dictates the timeframe within which you must act. In Texas, the standard limit for personal injury claims, including pedestrian-involved car accidents, is two years from the date of the accident. If you try to file a lawsuit after this period, the Texas courts are likely to refuse to hear your case, and you’ll lose your right to seek compensation through the legal system.
There are rare exceptions where this timeframe may be extended, such as if the injured individual was a minor at the time of the accident or if the defendant left the state for a period. We will look at the specifics of your case and ensure that your lawsuit is filed within the required period and advise you if any exceptions apply to your situation. Remember, too, that over time, evidence can be lost and witness memories can fade, making it more challenging to build a compelling case. Getting started promptly is always the best way to get a favorable outcome.
6. What Compensation and Damages You Can Seek
Compensation, often referred to as “damages,” falls into two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages provide compensation for quantifiable losses resulting from the accident. These typically include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, property damage, and any out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury. We work with you to document all these expenses accurately, sometimes consulting medical professionals, economists, and vocational experts to estimate what your future costs will be.
Non-economic damages cover the intangible impacts of your injuries. This compensation is for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and, in cases of long-term or permanent injury, adjustment to a new lifestyle or loss of future earning capacity. While these damages are not as straightforward to calculate, we have the experience to help you understand what you should be asking for.
In cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed grossly negligent, you may be awarded punitive damages. These are not designed to compensate you but are rather meant to punish the offender and deter such behavior in the future. These are quite rare, but they do occasionally happen.
7. What to Do After a Fatal Pedestrian Accident
In unfortunate instances where a pedestrian accident results in death, the surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim. This legal process seeks restitution for losses directly related to the bereavement, like the emotional anguish of losing a loved one, lost potential income and inheritance from the deceased, loss of companionship, and funeral expenses.
In Texas, wrongful death claims can be filed by immediate family members: the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased. If none of the family brings a claim within three months, the deceased’s estate can bring a claim, but only if a family member doesn’t object. The process of prosecuting a wrongful death case entails proving that the death was a direct consequence of the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or deliberate act and demonstrating the extent of your losses due to the death.
Contact a Rockdale, TX or Huntsville, TX Car Accident Attorney to Make a Pedestrian Personal Injury Claim
You should not try to get through the Texas court system or deal with insurers on your own. Contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, right now to work with a lawyer who has a deep understanding of Texas personal injury law.