A pedestrian accident can be overwhelming physically and emotionally. You have rights after an injury and you should understand how to pursue the compensation you deserve. You deserve help from personal injury lawyers in Yakima, WA who will help you potentially get the most out of your case.
What Constitutes a Pedestrian Accident?
The legal definition of a pedestrian accident in Washington is quite broad. Essentially, if you were struck and injured by a vehicle while outside of an automobile in any area legally open to pedestrians, you can likely pursue injury claims against the negligent driver.
Some examples help illustrate common situations that qualify as pedestrian accidents under state laws. For instance, a driver failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian legally crossing within the marked boundaries of a crosswalk constitutes a pedestrian accident if they strike the pedestrian. Even if the crosswalk is unmarked, pedestrians still have lawful rights to safely cross intersections which drivers must respect.
Likewise, a pedestrian crossing a roadway at a non-signalized intersection without a painted crosswalk still has protections under the law. If they properly yield to oncoming cars before crossing and a driver fails to exercise reasonable caution, hits them, and causes injuries, it legally qualifies as a pedestrian accident.
Additionally, a person walking or running along the shoulder of a road has right-of-way over merging vehicles. If an inattentive driver does not notice them and strikes them while entering the roadway, the pedestrian can pursue injury claims against the driver’s negligence.
Pedestrian accident lawyers may be able to help if you were injured by a vehicle outside of an automobile in any location legally accessible to pedestrians, whether a crosswalk, shoulder, sidewalk, parking lot, trail, or other area. Drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable caution around pedestrian areas.
Proving Liability in Pedestrian Crashes
Proving the motorist’s negligence is essential for securing injury compensation after a pedestrian accident. Under Washington’s comparative negligence laws, pedestrians only shoulder partial liability if their own grossly negligent behaviors directly contributed to the crash. Experienced attorneys utilize several important forms of evidence to demonstrate driver fault and defeat any arguments trying to shift blame onto pedestrians:
- Police accident reports can be pivotal, as they contain professional assessments of contributing factors based on roadway evidence, eyewitness accounts, and statements from all involved parties. Officers cite drivers for violations like failure to yield right-of-way, speeding, distraction, intoxication, or other negligent driving behaviors. These official documents help substantiate where the majority of fault lies.
- Video footage captured by nearby business security cameras or traffic cameras at intersections often provides visual confirmation showing exactly how the motorist struck the pedestrian, capturing any reckless driving, negligence, or violations.
- Vehicle data retrieved from automaker systems reveals incriminating details like excessive speeds, hard braking right before impact, swerving motions, and other operator actions proving the driver’s negligence and reaction times.
- Photos of vehicle damage indicating the severity of impact points can show the collision forces involved were inconsistent with a properly attentive driver exercising reasonable caution around pedestrians. Significant vehicle damage points to likely excessive speed in many cases.
- Medical reports thoroughly documenting the traumatic injuries suffered by pedestrians can further validate pedestrian claims when the severity is inconsistent with a minor, low-speed collision. Massive trauma indicates drivers were likely operating recklessly and struck pedestrians violently at high speeds.
- Traffic citations issued by officers to drivers for right-of-way violations, inattentiveness, speeding, and other negligent actions provide further validation of fault when pedestrians acted legally and prudently.
Liable Parties in Pedestrian Accident Cases
Drivers are most often liable for pedestrian collisions, but other parties may also be responsible when negligent, such as:
- Automakers if defective vehicle brakes, tires, or lights contributed to the collision.
- Municipalities if poor road design, lack of signage and markings, or other hazards created unsafe conditions for pedestrians.
- Businesses with damaged or unsecured loading docks, doors, or equipment that struck pedestrians on sidewalks.
- Contractors occupying sidewalks or crosswalks forcing pedestrians into roads unsafely.
A pedestrian accident lawyer thoroughly investigates to identify all potentially negligent parties and pursue injury claims against multiple entities if warranted under the specifics of your pedestrian accident. This is critical to maximize compensation as much as possible.
What if The Accident Was The Pedestrian’s Fault?
In certain situations, pedestrians are responsible for accidents due to their own negligent behaviors. This includes examples like:
- Suddenly running out into traffic outside of a crosswalk against the light
- Attempting to cross very busy highways or interstates unlawfully
- Walking at night in dark clothing without reflective gear or lights
- Not paying attention to surroundings while using headphones/mobile devices
- Attempting to dash across roads between parked cars with limited visibility
- Disobeying pedestrian control signals or signs at intersections
- Not yielding properly to oncoming traffic before crossing uncontrolled intersections
If a pedestrian clearly acts negligently and directly causes their own accident and injuries, they are unlikely to have a strong claim against the driver. The motorist must simply exercise reasonable caution, not perfection, and may not be able to fully avoid collisions caused by pedestrian recklessness or unpredictability.
However, attorneys still investigate all factors to determine if any comparative negligence applies. If a driver’s own actions like speeding or distraction may have contributed even partially to the crash, it may be possible to pursue reduced damages in proportion to their percentage of fault. But predominantly pedestrians bear responsibility for the consequences of their own unlawful or grossly negligent conduct. We provide honest assessments of legal viability after pedestrian-caused accidents.
Pedestrian Injuries in Vehicle Accidents
Pedestrians often sustain severe trauma in vehicle collisions due to the extreme size disparity and impact forces. Common injuries include:
- Head and brain trauma – Concussions, bleeding, swelling, memory loss, hearing damage, headaches, cognitive impairment, etc.
- Spinal cord injury – Vertebrae fractures, damaged spinal cord resulting in partial or total paralysis.
- Orthopedic injuries – Broken bones, shattered joints, loss of limbs, severe soft tissue damage.
- Internal organ damage – Trauma to the chest, abdomen, etc. can puncture, crush, or lacerate organs.
- Wrongful death – Pedestrian accidents often result in immediate fatalities or death later from critical injuries.
Pedestrians have little protection in collisions compared to vehicle occupants. Damages can be extensive and lifelong.
Gathering Evidence After a Pedestrian Accident
Collecting solid evidence is vital but can be difficult for injured pedestrians. A pedestrian accident attorney can potentially help with:
- Photos of accident scenes, vehicles, and your injuries to document critical aspects while still fresh.
- Obtain police reports, which carry significant weight providing official investigator conclusions on motorist violations and faults.
- Interview eyewitnesses on the scene to shore up liability arguments.
- Send evidence preservation letters to liable entities instructing them to maintain any data or documentation relevant to the incident.
- Request video footage from nearby buildings or traffic cameras capturing how the collision occurred.
- Review medical records thoroughly documenting your injuries, treatment, expenses, and prognosis.
Statute of Limitations for Pedestrian Injury Lawsuits
Pedestrians have three years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable driver and any other negligent parties. Failure to act within this period forfeits your legal right to recover compensation.
You only have 180 days from the crash date to submit a claim to a government agency when they share liability, like for improper road design or maintenance.
Meeting these strict deadlines requires urgent action. Lawyers immediately begin investigations and start the claims process to preserve all legal options for maximizing damages within the limited statutes of limitations. Any delays can hinder the progress of your case.
Out-of-Court Settlements in Pedestrian Claims
Successfully resolving pedestrian accident cases often involves initially negotiating an out-of-court settlement with insurers to secure compensation without prolonged litigation. However, this requires skill and preparation. Attorneys work to ensure possible fair settlements by:
- Demanding policy maximum payouts from all liable drivers and entities with negligence contributing to the crash.
- Collecting past case data to benchmark potential settlement values based on case specifics.
- Demonstrating willingness to go to court if needed, which provides leverage in talks.
- Structuring requested damages categorically with supporting evidence and expert opinions.
- Having pedestrian claims expertise and knowing common negotiating tactics used by insurers.
While settlements provide faster resolution, they are usually only recommended when the offered amounts adequately cover current and future damages related to the pedestrian accident.
What if a Case Ends Up Going to Trial?
If out-of-court settlement negotiations fail to produce an offer that adequately compensates the full extent of your damages, a lawyer will prepare to take your pedestrian accident case to trial before a judge or jury. This provides the opportunity to present arguments in court, offer evidence, and let an impartial party weigh the facts to decide appropriate liability and compensation.
Gathering demonstrative evidence like diagrams, simulations, photographs, and other visuals assists in clearly explaining and emphasizing arguments to the court. Drafting persuasive legal arguments and questioning strategies focused on demonstrating precisely how the motorist breached their duty of care is also critical. Compiling medical evidence and testimony is vital to validate the full extent of a plaintiff’s crash injuries and damages for juror consideration. Practicing opening and closing statements helps summarize the strongest liability facts.
Why Partial Liability Matters
Thanks to Washington’s comparative negligence laws, even pedestrians who were partially at fault for their accident can still recover damages in proportion to each party’s established percentage of fault.
For example, if a jury finds a pedestrian 25% liable for crossing outside a crosswalk, and 75% liability is attributed to a speeding driver, the pedestrian still recovers 75% of their itemized damages reflecting the driver’s high majority of fault.
Our attorneys emphasize contributory negligence defenses should only minimally reduce client compensation, as drivers have a much greater duty of care to avoid collisions. Minor pedestrian negligence pales in comparison to motorist recklessness.
Financial Recovery for Long-Term Care Needs
Serious pedestrian injuries often require ongoing medical treatments, therapies, and long-term living assistance needs long term. Lawyers work with doctors and life care planners to accurately estimate lifetime care costs for:
- In-home healthcare aides, physical and occupational therapy, counseling
- Equipment like wheelchairs, hospital beds, mobility aids
- Home accessibility renovation expenses
- Transportation services for those no longer able to drive
- Medications, supplies, and medical equipment
- Skilled nursing or long-term care facility needs
Documenting these current and future accident-related costs ensures maximum compensation through settlements or court damages awards. An attorney will fight to potentially ease the financial burdens caused by driver negligence.
Wrongful Death Claims After Fatal Pedestrian Accidents
When pedestrian accidents result in fatalities, family members can pursue wrongful death claims against the motorist and any other liable parties. Damages may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support and benefits
- Loss of companionship, consortium, and guidance
- Pre-death medical and ambulance costs
- Pain and suffering damages if death was not instant
- Punitive damages in cases of egregious negligence like drunk driving
While no settlement replaces lost loved ones, securing fair compensation is essential to offset the devastating financial effects many families face after losing a family member who was the primary source of income.
Pedestrian Laws in Washington
Understanding key Washington laws protecting pedestrians can assist accident victims during the legal process after a driver violates those statutes and causes harm. Relevant laws include:
- Drivers must yield to pedestrians lawfully in crosswalks, even if unmarked. Pedestrians cannot suddenly leave the curb if it impedes approaching vehicles.
- Drivers cannot pass vehicles already stopped at intersections for pedestrians.
- Pedestrians must obey pedestrian control signals at intersections.
- Cars turning cannot cut corners and must slow for pedestrians.
- Pedestrians on sidewalks or road shoulders have right-of-way over merging vehicles.
- Parked vehicles cannot open doors into the path of pedestrians.
- Pedestrians must walk on the left side of roadways when no sidewalks are available.
Contact Our Compassion Team For Help With Your Case
A pedestrian accident can be a devastating experience. Whether your injuries were minor or catastrophic, you deserve a dedicated Yakima, WA pedestrian accident attorney on your side. Contact our team for a free consultation so you are not alone in this process.