Can I Pursue a Claim if I Was a Pedestrian or Cyclist Involved in a Car Accident?
Pedestrian accidents in Texas have been on a troubling rise in recent years. Notably, pedestrian fatalities now represent one in five of all traffic-related deaths in the state. This indicates an alarming trend where pedestrians are at an increasing risk when compared to other traffic participants, and it highlights the need for all of us – pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers – to do whatever we can to help avoid the tragedy of a pedestrian accident.
In 2021, Texas recorded 5,370 crashes involving pedestrians, which tragically led to 843 deaths. To put this into perspective, this was a 15 percent hike in pedestrian fatalities from the year before. Furthermore, another 1,467 individuals sustained personal injuries as a result of these accidents.
The situation did not seem to have improved in 2022. The state witnessed 919 pedestrian deaths, and an estimated 2,000 pedestrians suffered injuries in over 8,000 crashes. The escalating numbers are a grim reminder of the heightened risks pedestrians face in Texas.
Cyclists Can Also Get Hit By a Car
Cyclists, too, are a vulnerable group on Texas roads. In 2022, the state reported a concerning 91 fatalities involving bicycle riders, accompanied by over 600 injuries. These grim statistics stem from approximately 2,350 crashes that involved bicycles.
Similar to pedestrians, cyclists often find themselves at a higher risk due to the lack of physical protection when compared to those inside vehicles.
Why So Many Accidents?
Several key factors play a role in the spike of pedestrian-related accidents in Texas. First, there’s the issue of pedestrians themselves not yielding the right-of-way to vehicles. While pedestrians should ideally be safe on crosswalks and pavements, it’s crucial to be vigilant and ensure that the coast is clear before venturing out, especially in busy traffic areas.
Secondly, and equally concerning, is the problem of drivers not yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians. This disregard or negligence on the part of drivers can be catastrophic for unsuspecting pedestrians.
Additionally, driver inattention, possibly due to distractions like mobile phones or other in-car activities, significantly contributes to the increasing number of accidents.
Last, but certainly not least, speeding remains a persistent problem. A vehicle moving at high speeds reduces the driver’s reaction time and increases the severity of the impact in case of a collision.
Pedestrian or Cyclist Hit By a Car? What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists can be some of the most devastating traffic incidents. When someone is hit by a car while walking or biking, they’re exposed to serious injuries due to the sheer force of a motor vehicle collision, without the protective shield that occupants of cars have.
These individuals often grapple with substantial medical expenses, pain, lost wages, and an uncertain future, making a car insurance claim a vital first step after any pedestrian accident.
When Should I File an Insurance Claim for a Pedestrian Accident?
If you are involved in a pedestrian accident, it is crucial to report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. Delays can raise suspicion about the legitimacy of your claim, and you might miss out on potential benefits. Most liability insurance companies have strict reporting deadlines.
Furthermore, evidence from the scene can be transient. Swift action ensures that crucial details and evidence, such as tire marks, eyewitness testimonies, or camera footage, remain fresh and retrievable. After your pedestrian accident, your pedestrian accident lawyer will be able to use this evidence, along with the bills from your medical treatment and other evidence, to ensure you are properly compensated for your damages.
Keep in mind that Texas operates under a “modified comparative fault” system. This means that as long as you are not more than 51% at fault, you may recover compensation under the other party’s liability insurance coverage. However, any settlement or judgment will be reduced by your percentage of fault, even if you are pedestrian hit by a large vehicle.
Can Cyclists Get Compensation From Auto Insurance as Well?
Absolutely. In Texas, cyclists have the same rights as any other user on the road. If a cyclist is hit by a car, they can seek compensation for medical bills, property damage, medical treatment, lost wages, and other related expenses.
However, the responsibility lies with the cyclist to prove the driver’s negligence led to the accident. Gathering evidence of how the accident happened, like photographs of the accident scene, collecting insurance information, and getting medical attention immediately can strengthen a cyclist’s personal injury claim and prove negligence.
How Does Filing an Insurance Claim Help?
Filing an insurance claim is often the first step toward obtaining compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car. By alerting the insurance company of the insured vehicle, you begin the process of receiving funds to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.
The driver’s auto insurance company generally covers these expenses if they’re found at fault in a pedestrian crash. However, a cyclist or pedestrian hit by a vehicle should always be wary of health insurance company adjusters, who may aim to minimize the company’s payout.
Their initial offer may not cover all your damages, such as lost income, pain and suffering from bodily injury, long-term medical care, and other damages common after car accidents. It’s crucial that you recover compensation for all your damages after a traffic accident, especially if you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries. Always hire a lawyer quickly, and only talk to an insurance adjuster with your attorney present.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents and Cycling Crashes
Always use crosswalks, obey traffic signals, and ensure you are visible to drivers, especially during nighttime or in low-visibility conditions. Cyclists should wear reflective clothing, use bike lanes when available, and always wear helmets.
Drivers should remain vigilant, avoid distractions, and always yield the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists as required by Texas traffic laws.
Common Injuries Caused By Cyclist and Pedestrian Accidents
Common injuries from pedestrian accidents include fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, other serious injuries, and even death. Immediate medical attention is imperative, not just for health reasons, but also to document injuries for insurance or a potential personal injury lawsuit.
Cyclists, much like pedestrians, are vulnerable when hit by a car due to the limited protection a bicycle offers. Cyclist crashes can lead to a spectrum of injuries, ranging from minor abrasions to significant traumas. Typical injuries in cyclist accidents include broken or fractured bones, head and traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, and road rash.
Who Pays a Cyclist’s or Pedestrian’s Medical Bills?
The responsibility of covering medical expenses in Texas largely depends on who was at fault in the accident. If a driver is found to be at fault, their liability insurance should cover the pedestrian’s or cyclist’s medical bills.
However, if the pedestrian or cyclist has personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under their own insurance policy, this can help pay for medical expenses, regardless of fault in a personal injury case.
It’s essential to communicate with both the driver’s insurance company and your own insurance company after an accident. In scenarios where fault is contested, a pedestrian accident attorney can provide guidance on the best course of action.
How Fault Is Determined?
Texas uses the comparative negligence system. This means that the total compensation a victim can recover is reduced by their percentage of fault. Gathering evidence, including police reports, witness testimonies, and photographs of the accident scene, can help establish liability. In some cases, violations of the law, such as failing to yield the right of way or speeding, can be definitive proof of a driver’s fault.
Pedestrians have a responsibility to follow laws too. If a pedestrian acts negligently, they can be held liable partially liable. Proving liability will require evidence that the pedestrian’s actions directly led to the accident.
Similarly, cyclists must obey traffic laws. If a cyclist is found to have caused an accident, perhaps by not using proper signals or ignoring traffic signs, they can be held responsible. Here, the driver can make a claim against the cyclist’s home insurance or personal liability policies. However, proving a cyclist’s liability requires solid evidence, such as a breach of traffic laws, testimonies, or video footage.
What Kind of Evidence Can Prove Liability?
Establishing liability, whether it’s the driver’s, pedestrian’s, or cyclist’s fault, requires comprehensive evidence. This can range from police reports, which provide an official account of the accident, to testimonies from eyewitnesses.
Photographs of the scene, skid marks, traffic signals, and any property damages can be crucial. Additionally, any surveillance or dashcam footage available can offer a clearer picture of how the accident occurred. Medical records, indicating the severity of injuries suffered, can also be a pivotal component in proving the extent of damage and how much compensation is reasonable.
Compensation for Pedestrians or Cyclists Hit by a Car
When a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a car, they may be entitled to compensation, depending on the specifics of the accident and the extent of injuries. This compensation can cover medical bills, lost wages due to time off work, property damage, and more. Pedestrians and cyclists might also claim for future medical expenses, especially if the injuries lead to long-term health complications.
A pedestrian or cyclist hit by a vehicle can claim various types of damages, including:
- Economic Damages: These are tangible costs such as medical bills, therapy and rehabilitation costs, lost income, and future medical expenses.
- Non-economic Damages: These refer to intangibles like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and, in tragic cases, loss of companionship.
It’s also worth noting that Texas law permits the recovery of exemplary damages, or punitive damages, in cases where the harm resulted from a deliberate act or gross negligence.
What if There Were No Injuries Suffered: Can I Still Sue?
Even if a pedestrian or cyclist does not suffer immediate physical injuries, they may still have a claim, though it will be more difficult to win.
For instance, if they have property damage, such as a damaged bicycle or ruined personal property, they might seek compensation. Emotional distress is another aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked. An accident can lead to psychological impacts like anxiety, fear, or trauma, even if no physical harm is apparent.
Texas Comparative Negligence Laws
In Texas, the rule of comparative fault plays a crucial role in determining compensation, even in a pedestrian accident case. If the court finds that a pedestrian or cyclist was more than 51% at fault for the accident, they cannot recover any compensation.
On the other hand, if they were less than 51% at fault, their compensation would be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if a pedestrian is deemed 20% at fault and has $100,000 in damages, they would receive $80,000.
Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
While it’s possible to handle a pedestrian accident or cyclist crash claim on your own, having an experienced lawyer can make the process much smoother. Insurance companies often employ tactics to minimize payouts, and a seasoned attorney can negotiate effectively on your behalf. Moreover, a lawyer can help gather evidence, ensure all paperwork is correctly filed, and represent you if the case goes to court.
Understanding the nuances of a pedestrian accident, especially in Texas, requires thorough knowledge of the law and lots of experience in prosecuting claims after a car accident. Being in a pedestrian accident can disrupt your life in many ways.
At the law firm of Brian C. Gutierrez, we are committed to providing guidance and strong representation for those affected by these accidents. From filing an insurance claim to ensuring you receive the rightful compensation for your damages, we’re here to assist after traffic accidents of any kind. Contact us right away at 979-271-5338 to work with a pedestrian accident attorney who will always be on your side.
Your Texas Car Wreck Lawyer
If you have been injured in a car accident in College Station, Bryan, Madisonville, Huntsville, Buffalo, Caldwell, Navasota, Buffalo, Rockdale, Hempstead, or Brenham, it is important to speak with a lawyer who can help you understand your rights and guide you through the claims process. At the Law Office of Brian C. Gutierrez, Attorney Brian Gutierrez is committed to providing personalized legal services for victims of car accidents. When you work with our firm, you are working directly with Attorney Gutierrez. Our clients are like family—contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the services we offer.
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