Every year in Edmonton, there are over 100 automobile accidents that involve pedestrians. While many of these pedestrians walk away from these accidents with little more than minor injuries, some wind up with serious, catastrophic damage that will shape the rest of their lives. Others don’t walk away at all.
Yet it would be a mistake to believe that pedestrians always win personal injury cases. There are times when a pedestrian case could be worth $500,000 or more, but there are also times when a pedestrian case is worth nothing at all.
Maximizing your chances of getting a settlement doesn’t just mean hiring a qualified pedestrian injury lawyer. It means understanding exactly how pedestrian accidents unfold, how they are valued, and what impacts the case.
Here’s what you need to know.
Pedestrian Rights and Duties
“Pedestrians have the right-of-way?” Not always.
While pedestrians enjoy a great deal of protection, they’re required to follow traffic laws in Edmonton just like bikers, cyclists, and drivers are. This means sticking to designated areas such as sidewalks and crosswalks, as well as having a duty to pay attention to what traffic is doing. There’s also a duty to walk with the flow of traffic. When pedestrians travel at night, they have a duty to make themselves as visible as possible.
What pedestrians do have is the right to be compensated for their injuries when a negligent driver collides with them. However, in order to collect this compensation, they have to prove two things.
First, they must prove the other driver really was negligent, which is not a given even though the driver was in a bigger, heavier car.
Second, they must prove the injuries they sustained stemmed directly from the accident.
Pedestrians who believe the driver to be at-fault also have a duty to make their claims in a timely fashion, adhering to the deadlines demanded of them by Alberta law.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
In our practice, we see many reasons for pedestrian accidents, including:
- Left turn accidents where the driver is watching oncoming traffic but not to the left where they’re turning.
- Speeding motorists.
- Poor visibility is caused by darkness, bad weather, or other prevailing conditions.
- Distracted driving.
- Failure to obey traffic laws, either on the part of the driver or the pedestrian.
The reasons for your accident will matter to your personal injury case.
What Should Pedestrians Do After an Accident?
If you’re awake enough to respond to the accident then you’ll take most of the same steps that you’d take at a traffic accident.
- If it’s safe to move, you, the driver, and the car all need to get to a safe place.
- The police must be called.
- You need to get the driver’s name, address, and insurance information. We recommend snapping a photo of the insurance card so you don’t risk transposing a number or losing a piece of paper.
- Get the names and numbers of any witnesses on the scene.
- Avoid apologizing.
- Avoid claiming you’re “okay.”
- Get immediate medical attention.
- Follow all doctor’s orders.
You should also contact a personal injury lawyer to review your case as soon as you are awake and lucid enough to do so. There is little value in waiting and there are many advantages to getting this help. For example, your lawyer can handle every conversation with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, which makes you immune to the common dirty tricks that insurance companies like to play. Your lawyer can also get to work on securing important pieces of evidence that might otherwise disappear, like security camera or traffic camera footage that might serve as vital evidence in your case.
Common Injuries For Pedestrians Hit by Motorists
Pedestrians suffer from a wide variety of injuries after an accident.
- Pelvic injuries.
- Neck, head, and shoulder injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Broken bones.
Death is also a common result.
Know Also: What is a Pedestrian Crossover
Wrongful Death Pedestrian Accident Cases
If your loved one was a pedestrian who died at the hands of a negligent driver, a wrongful death case can help you absorb the financial losses associated with this death. This can include:
- Any medical bills generated before your loved one died.
- Funeral costs.
- Costs associated with grief counseling or psychiatric care from mental trauma and distress.
- Compensation for your grief.
To pursue a wrongful death claim you must be the spouse or interdependent partner of the deceased, or the adult child of the deceased, or be acting on behalf of the child of the deceased. Parents may also sue on behalf of their children.
Make sure you know who is making the claim and why, as the wrongful death settlement must be equally distributed between all claimants. Only one case may be pursued. If there is more than one claimant, work together to hire a lawyer and to bring your case to its best possible outcome.
Who is at fault when a driver hits a pedestrian?
Either the driver or the pedestrian may be found at fault. While the at-fault party is usually the driver, this isn’t always the case. A pedestrian who fails to follow traffic rules and who gets hit by a car as a result might find the courts siding with the driver instead.
Alberta is also a comparative negligence province, which means it’s possible for both parties to be found to bear some percentage of the fault. For example, it’s possible to find that the driver was 75% at-fault, but that the pedestrian took actions that made them at least 25% responsible for their own injuries.
When this happens your settlement amount or jury award may be reduced by the percentage of fault that has been assigned to you. In the previous example, if the case was worth $100,000, then the pedestrian would only get $75,000 for their injuries.
The reason is simple: personal injury cases don’t exist to compensate anyone who gets hurt for any reason or under any circumstances. They exist to “make someone whole” after a negligent action has hurt them.
A negligent action occurs either when someone does something they shouldn’t do or when they don’t do something they should do. If a driver fails to check for pedestrians before making a left turn, for example, then they’ve committed a negligent act. If the pedestrian also darts out into the crosswalk before the “Walk” sign comes on then they, too, have committed a negligent act.
Thousands of dollars can depend on a few percentage points. The percentage of fault is always arguable and negotiable. This is one reason why working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can make such a big difference to your case.
How much money can you get from a pedestrian accident settlement?
Every case is different, so it’s impossible to name a specific amount.
However, your settlement will cover the following:
- Medical expenses.
- Projected future medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- If you’ve become disabled as a result of the accident, you may receive a loss of earning the capacity award.
- Compensation for other expenses generated by the accident, for example, housekeeping expenses incurred while you were too injured to care for your home.
- Dental expenses.
- Psychological counseling.
- Property damage.
In addition to these basic, calculable expenses you’ll also receive a more subjective pain and suffering award. This award is to compensate you for the pain, injury, disfigurement, scarring, and mental suffering that you’ve gone through as a result of your accident. It also compensates you for major life changes made as a result of the accident.
This amount is both negotiable and, in Alberta, capped. The soft tissue injury cap in Alberta is $5,926. Major injuries are capped at $370,000.
Pain and suffering awards can be any amount between $1 and the cap. They’re another point of negotiation. Again, having a good lawyer on your side can make a huge difference.
What happens when a hit and run driver gets into an accident with a pedestrian?
First, the Edmonton police force will spring into action to try to find the hit-and-run driver. They’ve committed a crime, and it’s a crime Alberta takes very seriously.
Second, you will need to move fast, but you can make a claim against the motor vehicle accident fund. While you and your lawyer will also be expected to make a reasonable effort to find the hit-and-run driver, MVAC will pay you up to $200,000 in compensation if you don’t.
You may also look to other sources of compensation, such as your Section B coverage and your SEF 44 plan, AISH, or disability benefits generated by your life insurance policy.
If the driver is found the at-fault driver may be sued as normal.
How long does it take to get a pedestrian accident settlement?
You can expect the entire process to take 12 to 18 months from start to finish.
Should I take my pedestrian accident case to court?
Every case is different. In general, it’s better to negotiate a settlement. Negotiations are more predictable, and accepting a settlement is a bit more in your control than taking the case before a jury.
If your lawyer thinks it’s a better idea for you to pursue litigation you will be advised of this, along with the reasons for taking this step, when the time comes.
Need help with your case?
Most of our lawyers have over 2 decades of experience with complex personal injury cases such as car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall cases, and other cases where someone else’s negligence causes good people to get hurt.
We’re responsive, attentive, and kind. We’re also known as some of Canada’s toughest negotiators and savviest litigators.
Call us at (780) 413-9777 to schedule a case review today.