Whether you’re walking across the parking lot, taking a jog around your neighborhood, or crossing the street at an intersection, the last thing that you expect is to be hit by a car. But pedestrian accidents are on the rise in Virginia, and in a single year alone, there were more than 1,600 pedestrian-involved crashes in our state resulting in dozens of pedestrian deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Being hit by a car can be devastating, leaving the victim with long-term, disabling, or fatal injuries. At the law offices of the Pack Law Group, our pedestrian accident attorneys in Virginia understand the tragedy you’re facing if you or a loved one has been hit by a car. For the aggressive support you need in navigating the claims process and recovering a settlement, call our pedestrian accident lawyers today.
Top Causes of Pedestrian Accidents Pedestrian accidents are almost always preventable. If you’ve been hit by a car, our lawyers will commit to thoroughly investigating your case and determining exactly what happened and whose negligence caused your crash. Some of the top causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted driving. A crash may happen simply because a driver is not paying attention and does not see a pedestrian as such.
- Speeding. Speeding increases the risk of a crash, increases the stopping time for a vehicle (which can be critical in the event that a pedestrian is in front of a car), and increases the risk of loss of vehicle control.
- Driving while intoxicated. Driving while intoxicated increases the risk of all accident types, as impaired driving means a slowed reaction time, increase risk of performing erratic behaviors, blurred vision, and other dangerous effects.
- Performing other illegal maneuvers. There are a handful of other illegal or unsafe maneuvers that a driver may perform that increase the risk of crash, such as failing to stop at a light, failing to yield when proceeding through an intersection or making a turn, or driving aggressively.
In addition to driver negligence, other factors that increase the risk of a pedestrian crash occurring include distracted walking (e.g. using a cellphone or listening to music while walking), poor lighting or weather conditions leading to diminished visibility, and a lack of safe crossing opportunities or failing to cross at an available crosswalk. In some cases, vehicle or traffic light defects may also cause a pedestrian crash.
Injuries and Damages from Pedestrian Accidents Unlike accidents involving two passenger cars, the victim of a pedestrian crash has no protections to prevent injuries – no airbags, no seatbelt, no metal vehicle frame to absorb the force of the collision. As such, pedestrian accidents are often especially tragic. If a pedestrian crash is not fatal, it may leave the pedestrian with long-term, permanently disabling injuries.
Injuries Affecting the Upper Body Injuries impacting the upper body aren’t as common as those affecting the lower body, but they can still cause serious damage. If a victim is thrown by the vehicle or lands on the hood of the vehicle, serious or fatal injuries can occur. Again, bone fractures are relatively common in this area of the body. Broken wrists, arms, and ribs can require surgery, rest, and physical therapy. Blunt force trauma can lead to internal bleeding or other injuries that aren’t immediately visible. Internal bleeding is an extremely serious injury that can quickly become fatal if not treated immediately. Signs of internal bleeding include deep purple bruising to the abdomen, nausea or vomiting, severe headaches, numbness and tingling, and a loss of balance.
Injuries Affecting the Neck and Head When the head or neck is injured in a pedestrian accident, pedestrians are at a serious risk of lifelong damage or death. Even if an accident occurs at a low speed, a pedestrian can easily hit their head on the hood or windshield of a car. In some situations, this leads to lacerations to the face and head. Deep cuts may require surgery and leave victims with lifelong disfigurement. Some of the most harrowing of injury types that a pedestrian involved in a crash may suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Internal injuries; and
- Limb amputation injuries.
Other injuries include soft tissue injuries, facial injuries, bone fracture injuries, and psychological injuries. While injuries are one of the most obvious consequences of a pedestrian accident, they are by no means the only ones. Other damages a pedestrian harmed in a crash may incur include physical pain and suffering, emotional anguish and distress, diminished quality of life, loss of income and earning capacity, high medical bills, loss of consortium, and more. Our lawyers care about making sure that you are compensated for the full value of these losses if you are seriously injured in a pedestrian crash.
Who Pays for Damages After a Crash Following a pedestrian crash, it is of the utmost importance that evidence is gathered in order to determine who caused the crash. In the state of Virginia, the party who causes damages to another through a wrongful or neglectful act is liable for those damages. As such, if you can prove that your accident and injuries would not have occurred but for the actions of the driver who hit you (or any other negligent party, for that matter), such as using a cellphone while driving and speeding, then you can hold that party liable for the full value of your losses. In Virginia, drivers are required to carry minimum bodily injury liability insurance of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, and property damage liability insurance of at least $20,000. You can file a claim directly against the at-fault driver’s insurance for compensation. In addition to filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance, you may also be able to pursue a claim against your own insurance if you have certain coverage types. Note that if liability is shared amongst multiple parties–for example, the traffic light was broken, but the driver was also distracted, so both the driver and the party responsible for traffic light maintenance share responsibility for the crash–then you can bring forth a claim against each party in proportion to each party’s share of damages. Remember, though, that in Virginia, if you had any blame to the accident, you can be barred from recovery.
What Should a Parent Do When a Child is Injured in a Pedestrian Accident?
Seek Medical Care Immediately No matter how minor the accident appeared or how much your child insists that they are fine, get to a doctor as soon as possible. Adrenaline can dull the pain receptors, an evolutionary remnant that let prehistoric humans flee wild animals after an attack without having pain slow them down. Now, we rarely need that particular skill, but research shows that pain levels can get substantially worse after adrenaline levels drop. Your child’s immediate pain level does not necessarily reflect their injuries. Second, note that children may downplay their pain level for a number of reasons. Maybe they don’t want to look weak in front of other people, maybe they have something coming up that they are looking forward to, or maybe they are afraid of going to the doctor.
Save Evidence Take pictures of the crash scene, any signs that may indicate a lower speed limit or bus stop, and road conditions. Get the other party’s contact information and insurance information, as well as contact details for witnesses.
Maintain Thorough Records Keep copies of any paperwork you get from the doctor and any other medical professionals you see for your little one’s care. If you have any contact with your own insurance company or the other party’s insurance company, take notes on each call. Document your child’s pain levels each day.
Pedestrian Deaths in Virginia at an All-Time High Despite improvements in safety technologies and campaigns at the state level to reduce the number of fatal accidents, pedestrian deaths in Virginia are actually increasing. To be sure, data published by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reveals that in 2017, there were 1,608 pedestrian crashes (note: this actually represents a 2.8 percent decrease from 2016). These crashes resulted in 114 pedestrians killed, and over 1,500 pedestrians injured. In 2018, though, the number of pedestrian deaths in Virginia increased to 118, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While data for 2019 has yet to be released, an April 2019 article published in NBC 12 News warns, “Virginia pedestrian deaths on pace for record year.”
Get in Touch with an Attorney As Soon as Possible A child getting injured is a worst-case scenario for an insurance company, so you can expect them to get in touch with you fairly quickly after the accident. Their goal is to get you to settle for a low amount and sign a liability waiver before you know the extent of your child’s injuries. You need an attorney who can protect you from these efforts and fight for the compensation your family deserves. Insurance companies are focused on making money above everything else, and they may not offer a truly fair settlement until you bring an attorney to the table. Choose a personal injury attorney with previous experience in pedestrian accidents, especially those affecting children.
What Our Virginia Pedestrian Accident Attorneys Will Do for You Following a crash, it’s important that you take action immediately. When you call our law firm, we will initiate an investigation into your crash and start gathering evidence as soon as possible. In addition to traveling to the accident scene and doing an assessment of all evidence gathered, we will hire experts who can work on your case as well, such as accident reconstruction experts. We’ll also handle bringing forth your claim and a demand letter, calculating your damages, and reviewing and negotiating your settlement. If you’re hit by a car, you’re likely facing serious financial losses and long-term harm. For help recovering the compensation award that you deserve, please call our law firm directly today or send us a message requesting a free consultation. You can reach us at 540-586-7225 – our phones are answered 24/7.