A pedestrian crossing at night with several people and vehicles on it.

Walking offers numerous benefits, from promoting good health to saving money on transportation. However, the unfortunate reality is that pedestrians are vulnerable to the negligence of motorists. Unlike those in cars or even on bicycles or motorcycles, pedestrians lack protective measures like seatbelts, airbags, or helmets, making them more susceptible to severe injuries or even fatalities in collisions with vehicles.

Here are some common injuries seen in pedestrian accidents:

  • Broken bones. You never know how difficult it is to do your typical activities with a broken bone until you have one. Unfortunately, some people suffer multiple broken bones in a pedestrian collision and may spend months recovering and going to physical therapy before they can resume their usual activities. This can result in significant lost income and reduced quality of life.
  • Back, Neck, and Spine Injuries. Back or neck injuries can lead to chronic pain, while spinal damage can result in permanent paralysis and disability. If you have any back or neck pain after a pedestrian crash, don’t wait for it to get better – seek medical attention right away. Sometimes with back or neck injuries, symptoms may not be immediately apparent but can cause severe pain or disability later on.
  • Head trauma and traumatic brain injury (TBI). People who are hit by a car are often thrown to the ground, where they could suffer a head injury. Initially, the injured person may think the head injury is minor, or they may not even notice if they have other painful injuries, such as a broken leg. But a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can still cause lasting effects, including difficulties with cognition, memory, movement, speech, senses, behavior, or emotions. If you hit your head in a pedestrian accident, even if it seems like a small bump, please see a doctor and tell them about the injury.
  • Face or eye injuries. Pedestrians who fall forward may suffer fractures in the facial bones. Gravel or debris from the roadside can enter the eyes, causing damage and potentially resulting in permanent vision loss.
  • Road rash, lacerations, and other wounds. Road rash refers to a situation where a pedestrian hits the pavement and contact with the ground tears the skin open. Again, gravel, broken glass, and other roadside debris can pose a problem, becoming embedded in the skin or causing deep lacerations. These wounds often need to be carefully cleaned in the emergency room, and even with proper treatment, may cause permanent scarring.
  • Internal bleeding or bruising. When attempting to break their fall, pedestrians frequently use their arms, resulting in fractures in the arms, hands, and wrists. However, there are cases where the torso suffers an impact, leading to internal bleeding or bruising. Severe injuries may require surgery.

Many of these injuries are expensive to treat, even with good health insurance, and being unable to work can quickly worsen an injured person’s financial situation. If you’ve been in a pedestrian accident, you may be concerned about handling your usual expenses while recovering from your injuries.

Here’s How a Salt Lake City Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Help

Sometimes people who have been hit by a car believe the driver’s insurance company will cover all their expenses. Ideally, this should be the case. But the insurance company adjuster will look for any excuse to deny your claim, and if they fail to find one, they might undervalue your claim instead. What can you do to protect yourself? 

Speak with a pedestrian accident lawyer, who can go to work collecting evidence and building a case to show the driver was at fault. They will also calculate your damages to be sure you seek as much compensation as you deserve.

Can the Driver Blame the Pedestrian for an Accident?

Yes. There is often disagreement about fault in pedestrian accidents. The driver may claim that the pedestrian crossed outside of the crosswalk or against the light, was walking on the road when a sidewalk was available, or committed some other infraction. If there weren’t any witnesses, it might be your word against the driver’s. To make matters worse, the police report could be inconclusive if there is little or no evidence to support either account. Sometimes the officer has to guess what happened with limited information.

But even if the police report concludes that the driver was at fault and the driver is ticketed, the insurance company can still blame the pedestrian. Utah uses modified comparative negligence statutes for personal injury cases like pedestrian accidents. Modified comparative negligence is used when both parties have some fault in an accident. An injured person doesn’t have to prove that the other party was 100 percent at fault to collect damages, only that the other party was at least 51 percent responsible. 

This system is beneficial in situations where the injured person made a small mistake, but the driver was still primarily responsible for the crash. For example, let’s say you were crossing the street at a crosswalk. You were a bit distracted by your phone and didn’t see the car coming, but the driver was speeding and failed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Clearly, the driver was at fault, but the insurance company could argue that if you’d been paying attention, you might have been able to move out of the way. If they can make a strong argument, they might place 20 or 30 percent of the blame on you.

How does that help the insurance company? Under modified comparative negligence rules, any fault assigned to the injured person is deducted from their final payout from the insurance company. So if you have $30,000 in damages and are 30 percent at fault, the insurance company saves $9,000 despite the fact that their client drove recklessly and injured you.

Who Decides How Fault is Apportioned?

In a court case, the jury or judge would be expected to assign a percentage of fault to each party – in this situation, the pedestrian and the driver. However, most of these cases are resolved out of court and negotiated by insurance companies.

In either situation, your pedestrian accident attorney will fight for your right to collect as much compensation as possible. They can refute the insurance company’s claims that you were at fault if they are completely unfounded. For example, maybe the driver says they saw you staring at your phone, but you weren’t using your phone and weren’t distracted at all. If so, we can search for evidence to show you had no fault. For instance, we might look at your phone records to prove that you weren’t on your phone. We could also search for a video of the accident – sometimes we can get these from a nearby security or doorbell camera with the owner’s permission – that shows you weren’t distracted and the only person at fault was the driver.

And if you were on your phone? First, we recommend you don’t use a phone when crossing a street or walking near one because there are reckless drivers out there. It’s best to pay attention to your surroundings so you can react quickly if needed.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you had a high percentage of fault in the accident. We may recreate the collision to see if it would have been possible for you to get out of the car’s way. It’s possible that the car was going too fast, and even a pedestrian who was paying attention couldn’t have avoided injury. Or you may have had some fault, but not nearly as much as the insurance adjuster believes – perhaps it was only 10 percent instead of 30 percent. In these situations, we will negotiate with the insurance company to get you the largest settlement possible.

Reviewing a Potential Settlement

Sometimes the driver’s insurance company won’t try to pin the blame for the accident on you. In fact, they may make you a settlement offer just a few days or weeks after your accident. This seems like a relief to someone who is desperately waiting on that check so they can pay their medical bills and other expenses. But you should be very careful about a settlement offer, especially a fast one. 

When the insurance adjuster can’t find any excuse to blame the pedestrian, they may try a different tactic: The lowball offer. This offer covers some of your damages, but not all of them, and may undervalue those it does cover. Insurance adjusters understand that most people are not experts on calculating damages and don’t really know what their claim is worth. When they make you a lowball offer, they hope you’ll accept, which means their obligation to pay your claim is fulfilled. If you realize you have more expenses later, you’ll have to pay them yourself.

For this reason, we recommend asking an Salt Lake City personal injury attorney to review any settlement offer before you sign anything.

Get Help From Our Salt Lake City Pedestrian Accident Law Firm Today

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a pedestrian accident, please contact the Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers at 801-810-9999 for a free consultation. We can review your settlement offer or explain your options for pursuing compensation from an insurance company or individual. There is no obligation, and if we take your case, you don’t owe us anything until we win or settle it.

Questions you might have in your mind

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Additional Questions?

We have helped many clients recover from injuries resulting from car accidents in West Valley, Salt Lake City, and the greater Utah area. We are here to help you recover after an accident. If you've been injured, don't hesitate to call Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We have recovered millions for our clients and we are ready to fight for you.

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