According to a new estimate by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), motorists on U.S. roadways hit and killed an estimated 7,485 pedestrians last year alone. That’s an average of 20 pedestrian deaths per day. This figure represents the most pedestrian fatalities in a single year in four decades. It was also a 12 percent increase from the prior year, resulting in 774 additional lives lost on the road.
Thousands more suffer an injury each year in pedestrian accidents on American roads. The most serious injuries happen when pedestrians hit vehicle hoods, windshields, or bumpers. Severe head, pelvis, and leg injuries are common. Those suffering such serious injuries deserve compensation for their injuries and damages. Those who have lost loved ones also deserve compensation for those losses. But how do victims go about recovering money, and how much is their pedestrian accident worth?
The best step for those injured in a pedestrian accident and their family members is to talk to a skilled pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. By doing so, they can find out if they have a valid claim, what it might be worth, and what they should do next.
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In some cases, it can be difficult to determine or estimate the value of a pedestrian accident case. However, a claim’s worth will always be rooted in the injured party’s damages. Damages are the financial representation of the losses, inconveniences, and suffering the accident victim faces because of their injuries. They can be economic, sometimes called special, or non-economic, also known as general damages.
Economic damages are objectively verifiable monetary losses, including:
Pedestrian accident victims and their attorneys can use receipts, bills, invoices, wage loss statements, and other concrete evidence to prove these damages. Injured parties deserve to receive 100 percent compensation for them.
On the other hand, non-economic damages aren’t as concrete and can be more challenging to prove.
Non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses, including:
Determining and agreeing on the value of non-economic damages can be quite difficult. However, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the pedestrian accident case won’t likely settle out of court and will proceed to trial instead.
Typically, you can calculate a fair estimate of the value of your non-economic damages by multiplying the sum of your special damages by one or two. Most insurance carriers are willing to negotiate a settlement for general damages in this range if you have mild to moderate injuries.
Keeping a journal of activities you can’t participate in after your injury can help determine your general damages and their value—for example, if you cannot attend special events or participate in recreational activities or hobbies, hold your baby or walk your dog, or needed to cancel vacation plans.
If your accident severely injured you, you might use a larger multiplier.
Another but far less common method of determining claim value for general damages is per diem. This method is typically for higher-value claims. Your attorney helps you assign a dollar value to your damages based on your daily suffering and inconveniences.
If your damages involve one or more of the following, you might have a high-dollar personal injury claim:
Assessing the value of your pain and suffering is personal. No one else can determine the actual value of your general damages. After all, you are the only one who experiences them and lives with their consequences. The problem often involves convincing the insurance company to pay what you believe is fair compensation.
Although you can state what you believe your damages to be, other factors play into your claim’s value. Unfortunately, many factors can potentially decrease your claim’s value, no matter what you believe it is worth.
These factors can include:
It’s highly unlikely that the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster will pay your initial settlement demand. Instead, they will examine your claim carefully and thoroughly, determining what they think it is worth.
The adjuster will look at how you and your pedestrian accident attorney calculated your settlement demand and if you have evidence to prove their insured’s fault or liability and your damages. It’s their job to find ways to attempt to relieve their client from any legal responsibility for your injuries, thus saving the insurance company money.
During settlement negotiations, your attorney will work to convince the adjuster that:
Unfortunately for injured claimants, computerized personal injury calculators have grown in popularity with insurance companies over the past decade. One of the most widely used is known as Colossus.
The problem is that these programs only serve to benefit insurance companies. They assign values to special damages and account for other factors in pedestrian accident injury claims. These factors include whether the claimant has legal representation or where they live.
Personal injury attorneys of all types are strongly opposed to these calculators. They know that too many variables, such as a data entry clerk making a mistake or forgetting to input crucial information, often decrease their clients’ injury compensation. Computer programs use statistics and rational facts to calculate injury settlements. Unfortunately, they don’t measure the extent of your pain and suffering.
Without an experienced pedestrian accident attorney on your side, you’ll be at the mercy of the at-fault party’s insurance company, their adjuster, and their computer programs. By hiring an attorney, you make the claims and legal process easier on yourself and maximize your compensation.
If you are worried about having enough money to meet with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer to determine if you have a case, there’s good news. Nearly all pedestrian accident attorneys offer free, no-obligation initial consultations. That means you pay nothing to seek their advice and find out if you have a valid claim.
Most of them work on contingency fees as well. If you decide to hire them to represent you in your claim, you owe them nothing unless or until they obtain compensation for you—either through a settlement or a court award. However, they set their fees when you initially hire them.
Once you receive compensation, they receive their fees through those proceeds. If you don’t receive any compensation for your damages, you owe them nothing in legal fees. You have nothing to lose by meeting with an attorney to learn more about your rights and the potential value of your pedestrian accident case.
The statute of limitations is a legal deadline. Every state enacts its own statute of limitations for personal injury claims, such as those arising from pedestrian accidents. The deadline begins on the day of the accident. Some states have as small as a one-year statute of limitations, and others provide as many as four years.
In some cases, the clock can also halt on the deadline, such as if the at-fault party has left the state or the victim was a minor child under 18. However, suppose your claim is against a government agency. In that case, the statute of limitations may be as short as six months to one year. Consulting with a seasoned pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident will ensure that you don’t miss any vital deadlines in your case.
Like all types of personal injury claims, pedestrian accidents can be costly. Not only do they result in injuries, but they can also give rise to lengthy court battles. Even still, there are ways to reduce the cost of your personal injury case.
First, ensure that you hire a seasoned lawyer who is willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Not all lawyers are created equal. You will want to find one with experience in pedestrian accident cases—both cases that settle out of court and go to trial.
Second, once you hire a pedestrian accident attorney you can trust, be willing to listen to them, and let them guide you. If they suggest accepting an offer and settling your claim instead of going to trial, it’s best to consider their advice.
You have rights if you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident. One of those rights is to pursue full and fair compensation. The ideal way to do this is with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. The sooner you contact one, the more your claim can be worth.
Hiring a lawyer should not add stress to your life – it should relieve it. Once you have legal help, you can remain focused on your physical recovery and treatment. Reach out for help today to get your injury claim started. Contact us to get started on your consultation.
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