Pedestrians getting hit by a car may feel the most vulnerable they’ve ever felt at any point in their lives. It’s a scary moment that can result in a painful injury. When these accidents happen, it is important for injured victims to leverage the power they have to ensure the driver’s insurance pays for their complete recovery. At the Law Offices of Steers & Associates, we help our injured pedestrian injury clients hold the responsible parties accountable.
Getting Hit by a Car: Pedestrian Accident Rates in Los Angeles
Pedestrians are not only those who walk to work or to a school zone on a regular basis. In fact, most people are considered pedestrians multiple times a day. Any time you are outside and are not actively in your vehicle, you are susceptible to a pedestrian accident. That includes walks through parking lots at the mall or at a supermarket. It also includes any exercise we get by jogging or walking.
The rate of hit-and-run accidents in Los Angeles is rising and a cause for concern. The LAist reported there were 134 pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles in 2019. That equates to a shocking death every two-and-a-half days.
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Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
Pedestrians who get hit can suffer a wide range of accidents depending on the circumstances of where they are struck and at what speed. Adults of average height can get struck low in the thigh or around the knees by a car or SUV and get thrown forward or upwards into the air. They can then end up hitting the pavement out in front of the car or to the side.
Victims might also end up on the hood of the car. At lower speeds, the victim can remain on the hood, at faster speeds victims can get propelled onto the roof or over the car entirely. Larger vehicles like a bus or big rig can injure a person on a motorcycle or send a pedestrian to the ground in front of the vehicle, putting them at risk of ending up underneath the vehicle or being run over by a tire.
Injuries Suffered by California Pedestrians
Pedestrians walk, run, and jog alongside traffic every day without any more protection than the clothes on their backs. When the driver behind the wheel of a 5,000lb SUV becomes distracted or travels at reckless speeds, they can injure anyone crossing across the school, or even on a sidewalk.
The injuries sustained when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle can be devastating. The debilitating wounds can leave victims unable to return to work, physical activity, and their daily routine.
These are just a few of the most common pedestrian injuries seen in emergency rooms:
- Musculoskeletal Injuries: Researchers believe these injuries are the most common for adult victims. They include fractures to the legs, pelvis, and arms. They can also include damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Organ damage is also possible.
- Head Injuries: A blow to the head on the pavement or the hood of a car can lead to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The damage can affect a victim’s short and long-term memory. Victims can experience light sensitivity and experience mood swings. Skull fractures are also commonly seen.
- Neck Injuries: The quick back and forth motion of the head can cause whiplash, soft tissue damage, and a slipped disc. Neck fractures are also possible in powerful impacts.
- Permanent Disability: Pedestrian accident injuries can easily leave victims with a permanent disability. An arm amputation, brain damage, sight and hearing damage, and paralysis can require lifelong changes. The costs involved can go well beyond the bills accumulated in a hospital. House renovation and career adaptation could be necessary. The consequences can leave lifelong physical, psychological, and financial trauma.
What to Do After a Pedestrian Accident
When such debilitating injuries are possible, victims and families need to secure the best medical treatment. That treatment should be fully funded by the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
Unfortunately, insurance companies like to question the integrity and the validity of injury claims from victims. They immediately start building evidence to try to place the blame on you for an accident.
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To make sure their tactics don’t have a chance to work, you’ll need to combat their “bad faith” behavior with strong evidence of your own. The strongest evidence will come from the accident scene itself. So, if you’re physically able, you should begin gathering details immediately.
- Dial 911. Give a full report to dispatchers and police investigators. Officers will create a collision report that can provide the best evidence of the facts of the accident.
- Use your phone to take photos. Document the scene, the car that hit you, street signs, and crosswalk markings. Take photos of any injuries that are visible and any damage to clothing.
- Talk to any witnesses. Get contact information so that your personal injury attorney can contact them to give testimony later. There is a reward program to find hit-and-run witnesses that are being implemented by the police for these kinds of incidents.
- Exchange information with the driver involved. Take a photo of a driver’s license and insurance card. Note if they are working for a business or rideshare. Don’t discuss fault in the accident or your injuries.
- Get checked out by your own doctor. Injuries can suddenly appear after the shock of what happened wears off. Have your doctor include all new injuries and those you’ve had since the accident on a medical chart.
- Don’t get rid of the evidence. Keep any damaged clothing and personal items, including your shoes.
Insurance Company Tactics After a Pedestrian Accident
Insurance companies like to first see if a victim will hire a personal injury lawyer. If not, an insurance company can pull out a playbook of manipulative strategies they’ve been using for decades.
For example, an insurance adjuster can set your case aside and not respond to your claim timely. They know that while you sit in the hospital or at home your medical bills will continue to grow, and your time missed at work will leave you with less income to cover your regular expenses. You can use a GoFundMe, but it may not raise the amount that you need.
Anyone would get desperate with mortgage, rent, car payments, and utility bills going unpaid. This is what insurance companies are waiting on. Once you’re desperate, they send over a “lowball offer” that might not even cover 25% of your current bills or the costs of future care for your injury.
Without a personal injury lawyer to assess your settlement offer, you might end up signing a very bad settlement offer that doesn’t fully cover your cost of treatment and recovery.
Sadly, this isn’t the only tactic you’ll get targeted by while you may still be recovering. Insurance adjusters may think they can reduce their settlement amount by shifting some of the blame on you, thereby devaluing your claim.
These are some of the most common ways insurance companies can try to place blame on you include:
- Investigating your medical history: Adjusters make a check of your medical background to see if you’ve had injuries similar to your recent issues. They like to make the case that your current injury is just a flare-up of an old wound that you aren’t disclosing. It’s another desperate attempt to dismantle your case.
- Spying on you: Insurance corporations can hire private detectives to follow you around to take photos that make you appear to be a liar. They may show you playing with your children or exercising to try to prove that you aren’t hurt as badly as you say you are. Adjusters can also easily go through your Facebook and Instagram posts to pluck photos out they can use to discredit your claims.
- Using your statements against you: You should never make statements to the driver involved in your accident or to any insurance representative who dials you up in the days after a collision. They’ll ask for recorded statements. You should politely decline these requests and refer them to your personal injury lawyer. Any statements you make run the risk of giving insurance investigators something they can twist to use as evidence against you.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Serving Southern California
Pedestrians deserve the right to travel throughout the city without the risk of being struck by a vehicle. However, Los Angeles motorists don’t always take the time they should to spot and slow down for those on foot. Traffic fatalities in Southern California aren’t going away any time soon. In the meantime, the personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Steers & Associates work to make sure pedestrian victims are given the best chance for recovery.
Victims should get the best medical care available and be exempt from the cost of that care. At-fault drivers and the insurance companies who back them should accept responsibility when it comes time to pay the costs of recovery.
Contact our legal professionals for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. We can inform you of your options and make sure you are aware of every benefit available to you. When insurance companies seek to rob you and your family of compensation as you heal, Steers & Associates will safeguard your case and protect your rights as a pedestrian victim.
Allen Vaysberg practices personal injury law and works tirelessly to defeat the tactics of insurance companies and large corporations who try to deny justice and fair compensation to injured people.