Pedestrian Accidents – Frequently Asked Questions
When you are injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian, you should consult a trusted attorney as soon as possible to fight for full compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys will work on your case personally, and will aggressively represent you in court to receive the maximum financial result you deserve.
Below are some answers to our most frequently asked pedestrian accident questions. For more help on your unique situation, call the Law Offices of Ira M. Perlman, P.C. & Robert D. Rosen, P.C. at 212-689-5000 to set up a free consultation.
Q: I have been hurt in a pedestrian accident, and I want to file a claim for my injuries. What’s the first thing I should do?
A: There are a number of things you can do in the first few days and weeks after an accident involving a motor vehicle in order to protect your rights to seek compensation. Obviously, it is important to contact a lawyer as quickly as possible so that you can find out specifically what needs to be done so your rights are not diminished. In any event, you should also do the following:
- Write down as much as you can about the accident itself, your injuries and any other losses (such as wages) you or a loved one has suffered as a result of the accident.
- Make notes of conversations that you either had or are having with people involved in the accident or the injury claim.
- Preserve evidence of who caused the accident and what damage was done by collecting physical items in addition to taking photographs.
- Retain all witness information, including names, telephone numbers and addresses because these people will be very helpful in proving your case.
- Obtain the police report or at a minimum, the information necessary in order to get the police report such as an accident report number and the precinct involved so you can identify the proper owner/driver of any vehicle involved in the accident.
Q: Should I speak to an insurance company adjuster/representative who calls me on behalf of the owner/driver of the vehicle involved?
A: Although it is certainly important to cooperate with the insurance company that will be providing you with No-Fault benefits as described above, you must remember that this same insurance company may also be responsible for paying financial compensation to you as a result of a separate lawsuit that your or your loved one commences in order to recover money damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment due to debilitating injuries suffered in the accident. Therefore, it is extremely important to realize that the insurance company is not on your side.
Insurance companies and their lawyers attempt to minimize the impact of an accident on you and your family so their payout is less. After a serious accident, you may get a call from an insurance company whereby an adjuster or representative may attempt to ask you questions that can be designed to confuse you or have you admit to something you do not fully understand, which can be used against you in court or another proceeding in which you’re seeking compensation and benefits. Therefore, you should not give any statements to any insurance company without first engaging an experienced lawyer to represent you.
Q: What if I was partially at fault for the accident?
A: It doesn’t matter if you bear some responsibility for the accident because you still have the right to seek financial compensation for your pain and suffering and any loss of enjoyment due to debilitating injuries which were caused by the partial fault of any owner/driver of the vehicle that struck you. If you do bear some responsibility for the accident, this may simply reduce your eventual recovery of monies from the owner/driver. For example, if you were 50% at fault, your recovery may be reduced by 50%. The issue of fault has no bearing on the No-Fault benefits discussed above. Fault only plays a role in reducing your financial recovery in your separate claim for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment in a lawsuit started by you.
Q: As a pedestrian, what duty is placed upon me to avoid accidents?
A: Every pedestrian has the duty to obey traffic laws which relate to pedestrian obligations and requirements depending upon the location of the accident. For example, when crossing a street, New York City law requires pedestrians to cross the street at a particular location such as a crosswalk and only when the light is in their favor. Of course, every situation is different but a failure to obey certain traffic laws and responsibilities can certainly affect the determination of fault. This does not mean that you will not be able to recover full and fair compensation if you were not in a crosswalk. This simply means that a jury has a right to weigh out all of the evidence concerning your actions as a pedestrian, as well as the driver of the motor vehicle in order to determine what percentages of fault are attributable to the plaintiff-pedestrian and defendant-driver. If your case proceeded to trial in the event it could not be settled, the judge presiding over the trial would instruct the jury on the laws which govern both the conduct of the driver and the conduct required of any pedestrian involved in the accident. A jury would then apportion responsibility for the accident based upon the law instructed and the evidence heard during the trial. The apportionment would have to equal or total 100%. For example, a jury might not place any fault on the pedestrian even if he or she crossed a street in the middle of the block and not in a crosswalk. In this scenario, a jury might find that the driver still should have seen the pedestrian in the middle of the block and the mere fact that someone didn’t cross at the corner was not a substantial factor which caused the accident. Therefore, 100% of the liability would be found attributable to the driver and 0% to the pedestrian. However, if a jury felt that by not crossing at the corner the pedestrian was a substantial factor in causing the accident as well as the driver’s negligence, they could find the pedestrian 45% liable and the driver 55% liable which totals 100%. Any combination of percentages totaling 100% is possible.
Q: How soon after I am injured do I have to file a lawsuit?
A: Every state has certain time limits called “Statutes of Limitations” which govern the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you probably will not be able to file a lawsuit or a claim/lawsuit you improperly filed can be dismissed because it was untimely. More importantly, if a governmental agency or the municipality is involved (a defective traffic light or a municipal vehicle was involved), the time period may be much shorter and there may be other documents which need to be timely filed prior to being allowed to file a lawsuit. Consequently, it is important to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible so that you do not diminish your rights.
Q: What damages are recoverable in a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident case?
A: As discussed above, the No-Fault benefits entitled to a pedestrian as a result of injuries are separate and apart from any right to start a lawsuit in order to recover damages for past and future pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment due to debilitating injuries as well as other damages. Obviously, it is best to call an attorney in order to receive guidance concerning what the various recoverable damages are, and whether or not the injuries suffered by you or a loved one permit a lawsuit and/or claim to be filed. In the event of the death of a pedestrian, aggrieved family members have a legal right to seek compensation for all harms and losses that are able to be compensated under the law.
Q: What if I have no information concerning the vehicle involved in the accident or if I find out there is no insurance coverage available, or if the vehicle fled the scene (hit-and-run)?
A: Obviously, have as much information available as possible as well as any documentation concerning the accident, and any medical care and treatment that was rendered to you or your loved one. However, if this information is not available, we often have resources available to us, including various investigators and other companies who are trained to undertake many steps and procedures to secure vital information and documentation on a timely basis.
If an investigation reveals there is no insurance coverage available concerning the vehicle involved in the accident or the vehicle fled the scene, the law does provide other avenues for you to recover financial compensation in order to cover your pain and suffering and any other damages. For example, if you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured (a vehicle with inadequate coverage) vehicle or the vehicle fled the scene, the insurance carrier(s) providing coverage for any motor vehicle(s) that exists in your own household may be required to step in to cover you for your damages sustained in such an accident. If there was no automobile in your household on the day of your accident, then a corporation that has been set up by the state of New York (Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation) may be required to step in and provide you with coverage and compensation as a result of your injuries and damages. Of course, it is best to call an attorney immediately to discuss this situation so that all necessary and proper steps can be taken on a timely basis.
Q: What if I have no medical insurance or coverage in order to pay for medical care and treatment?
A: As we have indicated above, if you have been involved in any type of motor vehicle accident whether as a driver, passenger or even a pedestrian, your medical bills will be covered through No-Fault insurance. Therefore, it is not necessary for you to have private health insurance or coverage from any other source.
If you do not have a doctor or any other health care provider and you are not sure where to turn or who to go see, certainly we can assist you in obtaining immediate and excellent medical care and treatment in order for you to get better. These health care providers will receive payment for any medical services rendered to you directly from the No-Fault provider (insurance company) which is responsible for paying all of your medical expenses as required under the No-Fault law as a result of the motor vehicle accident.
Q: What can I expect if I call your office for help?
A: You will be put into communication with either Mr. Perlman or Mr. Rosen who will speak to you directly during this time of need and uncertainty. You will receive straightforward answers to all of your questions. And most of all, remember, we are here to help you. Call 212-689-5000 to schedule your free consultation today.