Pedestrians tend to sustain significant trauma when a motor vehicle hits them. Here is a look at common pedestrian accident injuries and how an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can handle the process of obtaining compensation for them.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden external blow or jolt to the head damages the brain and disrupts its normal functioning. The damage can affect a single part of the brain or be diffuse (in many spots). Different parts of the brain control specific bodily functions, so the effect of a TBI can depend on its severity and the part of the brain that sustained damage. The brain’s limited ability to heal from injury, however, means that many individuals who suffer a traumatic brain injury will contend with long-lasting or permanent impairments.
Pedestrian accidents commonly result in traumatic brain injuries. The force of an impact can throw a pedestrian against a vehicle or to the ground, inflicting a severe blow to the victim’s head in the process. Even a low-speed pedestrian accident has a high chance of inflicting a TBI in the form of a concussion, which can cause severe and long-term disruptions in a victim’s life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The brain and the spinal cord comprise the body’s central nervous system, which controls nearly all body functions and involuntary responses. The spinal cord transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body. A spinal cord injury (SCI) consists of any damage to or impingement on the cord that interrupts the normal flow of those signals, resulting in weakness or a loss of function or sensation in the parts of the body affected.
Spinal cord injuries routinely occur in pedestrian accidents. The impact between a vehicle and a pedestrian, or the subsequent impact when the pedestrian gets thrown to the ground, can damage the cord and the vertebral structures that surround it.
Much like the brain, the spinal cord has only a limited ability to heal. It can also be risky to try to repair trauma to vertebrae that puts pressure on the cord, for fear of damaging the cord in the process. For those reasons, a spinal cord injury often results in the permanent inability to walk, control basic bodily functions, or live independently without significant cost. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the costs of living with a spinal cord injury can easily run into the millions of dollars.
Damage to the Spinal Column
The spinal cord is housed within the protective structure of the spinal column, which consists of bones (vertebrae) and fluid-filled cushioning discs that give the column some flexibility. The violent force of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian can cause severe damage to the spinal column, resulting in instability, loss of mobility, chronic pain and (as noted above) the potential for damage to the spinal cord.
Spinal column trauma may not cause the same types of permanent disability as an SCI, but its effects can still disrupt a person’s life, keeping them out of work, limiting their activities, and costing them hundreds of thousands in expensive surgeries and rehabilitation.
Lower Extremity Injuries
According to published research, the most common injuries suffered by the victims of pedestrian accidents occur in the lower extremities. Approximately 20 percent of pedestrian accidents injuries involve trauma to victims’ hips, thighs, knees, ankles, or feet. Broken legs and knee damage are the most common injuries in pedestrian accidents, reflecting that most passenger cars strike pedestrians in the legs.
According to FAIR Health, a medical consumer advocacy organization, the cost of treating a lower extremity injury can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. And that doesn’t even take into account the non-medical costs and financial losses, not to mention the pain and inconvenience. Severe lower extremity injuries from pedestrian accidents can leave victims with permanent disabilities.
Upper Body and Extremity Injuries
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently found that SUVs pose the highest risk of inflicting fatal injuries when they hit pedestrians. That’s because their front ends sit higher off the road, posing a greater risk of striking pedestrians in the chest or midsection and damaging vital organs, or throwing a pedestrian forward to the ground or into the path of another vehicle. A collision between an SUV and a pedestrian will also routinely cause injuries to upper extremities, especially broken arms and wrists.
The costs of treating upper extremity injuries such as broken arms are similar to that of treating broken legs. Costs run even higher when a victim sustains potentially life-threatening trauma to vital organs. And like other injuries, upper body and extremity trauma can keep a victim sidelined for months or longer, resulting in severe physical, emotional, and financial distress.
Dangerous Internal Injuries
As noted, the high height of SUVs increases the risk of damage to internal organs in a collision with a pedestrian, such as heart, lungs, stomach, liver, gallbladder, intestines, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and adrenal glands. Trauma can prevent these organs from functioning, posing severe and potentially fatal health risks. It can also lead to dangerous internal bleeding, which may go unnoticed until too late if a pedestrian accident victim does not seek immediate medical care.
Lacerations, Abrasions, and Road Rash
Of all the injuries a pedestrian can incur in an accident, you might not think of cuts and scrapes as particularly serious. But you’d be incorrect. Lacerations and abrasions, particularly the friction burn injury known as road rash, can kill bikers.
Wounds from sliding along the ground or punctures may result in catastrophic bleeding and life-threatening infection. Lacerations, abrasions, and road rash injuries that heal also frequently leave behind scarring and disfigurement. People who suffer this sort of trauma typically face high medical costs and may also endure extreme emotional distress.
Any of the injuries discussed above have the potential to disrupt your life. They can also be fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6,000 people die in the United States every year in pedestrian crashes.
Fatal accidents don’t just harm the deceased victims. They also take a heavy toll on those left behind. A preventable death leaves a hole in the lives of spouses, families, and communities. It frequently results in financial hardship. And it causes emotional wounds that take an especially long time to heal, if they ever do.
Your Rights as a Pedestrian Accident Victim
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident or lost someone close to you in one, the law may entitle you to receive significant monetary damages from parties at-fault and insurance companies. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can handle the process of getting you the money you need to pay your expenses and rebuild your life.
Liability for a Pedestrian Accident
As a general rule, anyone whose wrongful conduct caused a pedestrian accident may owe compensation for the harm you or your loved one suffered in it. Other parties, such as insurance companies, may also have an obligation to pay for your losses.
Many pedestrian accident victims simply assume that the driver of the vehicle that struck them owes compensation. And that’s frequently true. But the driver isn’t necessarily the only party who may face liability for your pedestrian accident injuries.
Others could include:
- The driver’s employer, if the accident involved a commercial or work vehicle
- A vehicle manufacturer, if faulty or defective parts triggered the crash
- A public or private entity at fault for unreasonably dangerous road conditions that contributed to the accident
- A business or individual who served alcohol to an underage drunk driver
These are just a few examples that illustrate how common it can be for parties other than the at-fault driver to owe you damages for the harm done by a pedestrian accident. The most reliable way to find out who might have liability to you is to consult with an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer right away.
Monetary Damages for a Pedestrian Accident
The parties who have liability for your pedestrian accident could owe you compensation for every form of harm you suffered.
You might recover payment for your:
- Medical expenses in treating your injuries and any related future health problems
- Out-of-pocket costs of good and services necessary to help you live with or adapt to your injuries and disabilities
- Past lost income from missing work while healing
- Future lost earnings if you’ve suffered a disability
- Physical pain and discomfort from your injury or treatments
- Emotional distress from the trauma you suffered
- Loss of quality of life
- Difficulty of living with scarring or disfigurement
If a pedestrian accident resulted in the death of your spouse, domestic partner, or close family member, the parties with liability may similarly owe you compensation for your:
- Loss of your loved one’s income, services, or financial support
- Loss of your loved one’s companionship, consortium, society, or guidance
- Loved one’s pain and suffering before death (in some U.S. states)
- Emotional suffering due to the loss (in some U.S. states)
- Loved one’s accident-related expenses before death
- Loved one’s funeral and burial expenses
Depending on how your pedestrian accident happened, you may also have the right to ask a court to award you punitive damages, as a punishment for the at-fault party’s misconduct.
The most surefire way of finding out how much money you could receive for your pedestrian accident injuries is to speak with an experienced attorney right away. In a free case evaluation, an attorney can review what happened and give you a general sense of your rights and options.
What a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Can Do for You
An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can handle the entire process of getting you compensation for your losses. You have enough on your plate after getting hurt in a pedestrian crash or losing your loved one to one. An attorneys’ job is to take the burden and stress of worrying about insurance and holding at-fault parties accountable off of your shoulders, so that you can focus on healing and moving on from your trauma.
Every pedestrian accident case differs, which is why the right attorney for your case is one who can provide a wide range of services that might be necessary in obtaining compensation for you.
These may include:
- Investigating the accident to pinpoint its causes and the parties liable for it
- Analyzing insurance policies to determine if and for how much they cover your losses
- Locating and collecting evidence to support your claim for compensation
- Working with forensic, medical, or financial experts to strengthen your claim
- Handling all communications with insurance companies for you
- Preparing and filing lawsuits and insurance claims on your behalf
- Negotiating with defense lawyers and insurance companies to get you a fair settlement of your claim
- Advising you about whether to accept or reject a settlement offer (the decision is always yours to make)
- Appearing in court to argue your case to a judge or jury
- Collecting and disbursing money owed to you from liable parties
What’s more, an attorney will usually provide these and other services without charging you any money up front. Pedestrian accident lawyers routinely work on a contingent fee basis, which means they only receive a fee if they win for you.
Contact a Skilled Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today
Pedestrian accidents can cause a wide range of injuries and traumas, many of them severe and life-altering. But no matter what sort of harm you suffered because of a pedestrian accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can take care of getting you the maximum compensation available.
Don’t wait to get the skilled legal services you need to protect your interests and future. You may have only limited time to take action and protect your rights. Contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney today for a free case evaluation.