Preserve Your Rights: What Are Your Rights as a Pedestrian in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

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If you were hit by a car while crossing the road or walking on the sidewalk, you might be able to seek financial compensation from the responsible party. A pedestrian accident attorney can assist you in obtaining the compensation that you are entitled to as a result of your injuries and losses.

All pedestrians must know their rights if they are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident.  Generally speaking, in most situations, pedestrians have very little legal protection against motorists. Some exceptions apply, depending upon the province that you live in and the circumstances surrounding the accident. The following information will help you determine if you have a meritorious claim for compensation as a pedestrian who was involved in an accident .

Presenting Your Case

The first thing you’ll need to do is present your case in a way that clearly shows how the motorist’s negligent behavior caused your accident. The insurance adjuster will likely try to blame you for any injuries and losses that have resulted from this accident, so it’s important to challenge every assumption they make. 

The adjuster may even attempt to prove that you were partially at fault for causing or contributing to the accident in some way. They could argue that your actions appear careless because you did not look both ways before entering a crosswalk, that you jaywalked across a poorly lit street, or that you crossed the streets during a red light. To establish negligence on the motorist’s part, it must be shown that he or she acted unreasonably while driving and failed to avoid hitting a pedestrian who had the right of way by reasonable caution.

The Standard of Care

Most drivers are required to use reasonable care while operating their vehicles. This includes adhering to speed limits, staying alert and attentive, and maintaining a proper lookout for pedestrians. A driver who fails to do any of these things may be held responsible for a pedestrian accident. For instance, a speeding car that runs a red light is likely going to cause an accident with the nearest pedestrian crossing the street legally and in accordance with traffic signals. 

If provincial laws require motorists to maintain a safe speed at all times, then failing to do so will undoubtedly qualify as unreasonable conduct on the motorists’ part. In this instance, it could be said that the negligent motorist breached his or her duty of care owed to you as a pedestrian by not driving responsibly under the circumstances.

The Comparative Negligence Rule

Although many provinces have established rules that hold drivers accountable for violating the law and acting outrageously, modified contributory negligence is also prevalent in their statutes. This means that as a pedestrian, if you were partly at fault for your own accident, then your claim will be dismissed by the court as a result. 

For instance, suppose you entered a crosswalk without looking both ways and stepped right in front of an oncoming vehicle whose driver was speeding through the area. You could argue that it wasn’t safe as pedestrians are supposed to have the right-of-way under those circumstances. However, a judge may still require you to take responsibility for your role in creating the hazardous situation.

Other jurisdictions might follow a non-absolute contributory negligence model. In these instances, as a pedestrian, you can still receive compensation even though you were partly responsible for causing or contributing to the accident. However, the compensation that you will be awarded is calculated based on a calculation which defines the scope of your responsibility in the causation incident. 

The Uninsured Driver’s Defense

Another defense that an insurance company is likely to raise in a claim against a negligent motorist who hit and injured you as a pedestrian is the issue of uninsured coverage for his or her vehicle. Suppose he or she did not carry enough liability insurance to cover your damages, medical expenses, or lost wages. In that case, it’s conceivable that this might be used as a legitimate defense against your claim.

Most provinces require vehicle owners to carry some form of liability insurance before driving legally on public roads. This being said, the payout amount of these basic insurance plans often fall short of covering all types of claims. As a result, most plans provide more extensive protection for motorists at an additional cost. However, very few individuals opt for these premium options. As well, if their policy has been canceled (for whatever the reason), they will no longer be insured to cover your claim.

The “Assumption of Risk” Defense

Some provincial laws specifically allow defendants in pedestrian-related accident claims to raise an “assumption-of-risk” defense. In these cases, defendants will argue that as a pedestrian, you assumed the risk or knew about a particular hazard, accepted its danger, and voluntarily exposed yourself to it for some reason. 

To succeed by utilizing this type of defense, the defendant must provide proof that you had knowledge of an unsafe condition and that you willingly put your safety at risk. If successful, this argument would remove liability from the negligent party who created or exacerbated the hazardous situation by exposing the pedestrian to unnecessary dangers before the accident occurred.

For example, suppose you were jogging along a busy street during rush hour and tried to cross against the red light. Cars were speeding past you as they approached the intersection, but you stopped in the middle of the road until it was clear and then continued across. If one of those speeding vehicles struck and injured you as you crossed, your claim would be dismissed. This is because you voluntarily took a risk and ignored common sense and safety precautions even though there were other options available at that time.

The Contributory Negligence Defense

Contributory negligence is another common defense that may be raised by negligent motorists who have caused pedestrian injuries. In these instances, pedestrians  would have to accept “partial” responsibility for their accident if a court finds even the slightest bit of evidence linking you to its cause. If successful, this argument could reduce or eliminate any compensation an injured pedestrian might receive for his or her injuries. This is because the court may only hold the defendant liable for their share of responsibility in causing the accident, and not its entirety.

To prove contributory negligence in pedestrian-related motor vehicle accidents, defendants must show that the pedestrian’s decision to walk or jog in a poorly lit area or during dangerous weather conditions increased his or her exposure to harm. It could also involve a situation where the pedestrian stepped into the road and was struck because the driver was not paying attention to their surroundings, or followed too closely to a stop sign or red light. Any amount of negligence on the pedestrian’s could be considered as a contributing factor to the accident, regardless of the defendant’s actions.

What are Your Rights?

In a collision with a motor vehicle, it is common for a driver to claim that the pedestrian was jaywalking. In many cases, this may be true and it might not be worth it for the pedestrian to pursue legal action. This being said, on the other hand, if the pedestrian stopped before entering the crosswalk area, it might help his or her case. 

Moreover, if you are ever unsure about your rights or the step-by-step process of obtaining the compensation that you deserve, a pedestrian accident lawyer can assist you. With their experience and expertise, they can help you navigate through the entire legal process. However, you must do your due diligence and ensure that you hire the right person! 

Here are your rights as a pedestrian in the event of a motor vehicle accident:

  1. You have the right to file a claim against the motor vehicle driver for property damage, personal injury, or both.
  2. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of your injuries.
  3. If you were injured due to the driver’s reckless driving habits, you may receive additional compensation for pain and suffering.
  4. You deserve adequate medical attention for your injuries. This could include physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, or even surgery, depending on what your doctor recommends.
  5. If you do not receive adequate medical care immediately following your accident, you can expect fair compensation for any future health or mental issues which can arise as a result of the accident. 
  6. If a wrongful death takes place, the deceased individual’s family has the right to file a claim against the driver or any other parties that may share responsibility for the accident.
  7. The amount of compensation you receive is contingent upon your medical treatments and lost wages. For instance, this means that if you choose not to seek medical attention for your injuries following an accident, or if you go to work as you did prior to the accident, it will be much more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your pain and suffering were due to the accident at all.
  8. You have the right to choose medical treatment at an emergency room or clinic of your choice, so long as the practitioners or establishments can bill the insurance company. 
  9. It is your responsibility to exercise your rights only if you have been injured. If you were not injured in the accident, there is no need to inform the driver of any such claims because they will most likely deny them anyway.
  10. If you can prove that you proceeded at a green light or a walk signal at the time of the accident, it may help with your case against the violator. However, most people forget to check for witnesses who could back up their claim and do not include this type of evidence when filing their report with the police department.
  11. You must file a police report within one year of an accident but no later than two years from the accident outside of some exceptions.
  12. If you do not choose to file a police report right after the accident, you have two years from the date of the incident in which to do so. After that time, it becomes nearly impossible to win a case against a driver, as he or she can claim that they did not know about an accident.
  13. In some cases, drivers can be responsible for all damages resulting from a motor vehicle accident. However, if the pedestrian ran into oncoming traffic and caused an accident himself or herself, this will impact his or her chances of winning the case entirely.

What Should You Do Following a Motor Vehicle Accident?

After a motor vehicle accident, you should take several critical steps if you plan on filing a pedestrian accident claim for damages against the responsible party. These steps include:

  1. Remaining on the scene until you have had a chance to speak with the police.
  2. Taking detailed notes of all persons involved, including drivers, passengers, and witnesses. Information taken down should include: contact information,  license plate numbers, accounts of what occurred, etc…
  3. Requesting an accident report from the police department immediately after the incident has concluded, regardless of whether it is a traffic accident or a slip and fall incident.
  4. Taking photos to document the scene if it is not readily apparent where the incident occurred.
  5. Staying on the scene of the accident unless it becomes unsafe to do so. 
  6. Calling an attorney as soon as possible after the incident has occurred to ensure your legal rights are protected.

Pedestrian accidents can result in devastating injuries that can change your life forever. You have the right to pursue a claim for compensation that will cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.

Conclusion

As a pedestrian, you are obligated to obey traffic laws when walking on the sidewalk or the streets. You should always walk on sidewalks that run parallel with roads unless there are no sidewalks, in which case you should walk on the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic.

Remember that if you were partially at fault for the accident (which is very common with pedestrian accidents), your ability to file a claim might be reduced. As well, you should act quickly in filing lawsuits against the negligent party, since witnesses’ memories fade and evidence disappears. To get the justice you deserve, you should look for a reputable pedestrian accident law firm.

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