The Nevada Department of Transportation reports that the number of pedestrian-related crashes in Nevada State continues to surge, particularly in Las Vegas. This increased risk is of special concern since pedestrians do not have the kind of protection that can help them avoid fatalities or severe harm when vehicles hit them, making pedestrian crashes one of the most severe traffic collisions.
A significant percentage of pedestrian-related accidents are caused by negligent or careless drivers. If you’ve suffered injuries due to a crash caused by a motorist while walking or running, the personal injury law allows you to sue for compensation. Contact the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm to talk to one of our attorneys about your case. Once you have shared the details surrounding your situation, we will determine whether you qualify to seek damages. If you do, we will help you with filing a claim or lawsuit and chasing compensation.
What You Do After a Pedestrian Accident Determines Your Ability to Recover Damages
If you get into a pedestrian accident, it is vital to understand what steps to follow next. Your capability to remain calm and make the appropriate decisions after a crash are critical to protecting yourself legally, financially, and medically. Whatever you do will increase or reduce your chances of recovering compensation. Here is what you ought to do:
Your primary concern after you’re knocked down by a vehicle must be your health and well-being. Therefore, you should get immediate medical treatment. If you’ve sustained severe injuries and can’t move from the scene, call 911 for emergency attention. You must know that not all injuries are immediately evident. For instance, head injuries might not manifest noticeable signs until several days after the crash. Thus, you must seek medical attention either at the accident site or go to the hospital immediately after you leave the scene even if you feel you aren’t hurt. Delaying treatment could cause these kinds of injuries to worsen. Furthermore, getting quick medical treatment and care links the injuries you sustained to the collision, building a record that can be valuable when bringing a claim/lawsuit.
While still at the scene, call the police to record a statement and for them to complete a full accident report for use in the future. Ensure you give only the relevant information to the police. Do not leave out anything that may help your case. It’s essential that you don’t admit fault for the crash to anybody. Admitting that you were to blame may reduce your ability to recover damages for the injuries you sustained and can be used against you if your case goes to trial.
If you can, collect proof from the accident scene. Take photos of the site and those of your injuries. For instance, take pictures of the motorist’s vehicle, landmarks in the area, and the street around the scene. Furthermore, look for skid marks or debris in the roadway that may indicate the motorist’s behavior before the crash. Note down the name of the motorist, their contact info, and insurance details. Also, note down the contact details of any eyewitnesses. Record the precise location the accident took place, and any other thing you remember about it. The photographs and notes may make a significant difference when it comes to the claims/suit process.
Once you have seen a doctor, and have started your treatment, reach out to a personal injury attorney. Your physician should first provide you with a medical report that lists all of your injuries, prognosis, and treatment plan. After you have secured this document, your lawyer will help you contact the police that responded to the accident and request a copy of the police report. Should you learn of any inaccuracies in the report, your attorney can help you resolve them, so the report comes out accurate & factual. Both the police and medical reports are cornerstones of a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Your lawyer will help you to collect any other supporting proof like traffic camera recordings and witness statements.
Liability in Pedestrian Accidents
Like any other crash, fault can fall on several parties based on the circumstances surrounding the accident. A driver, government entity in charge of maintaining roads, owner of private property, or the dog’s owner (if a dog on the leash caused the crash) can all be liable parties in a pedestrian accident. The responsible party is the one you sue for damages.
The law of negligence is applied in determining fault. Under this law, you have to prove that the party at fault was negligent, leading to the crash that caused your injuries. There are four elements you need to establish while proving negligence. They include:
- The party owed you a duty of care
- They breached that duty
- The breaching of the duty of care led to the accident that made you sustain injuries
- You suffered damages as a result of the injuries
In a nutshell, you have to prove liability for you to recover damages, and establish that the person you think caused the accident was negligent. For instance, if it was the driver you can prove that they were negligent in any of the following ways: You could show that they:
- Were driving while intoxicated with controlled substances, which include drugs, alcohol, and medication
- Were driving while drowsy or fatigued, which may have resulted in falling asleep while behind the wheel
- Failed to yield to you at the crosswalk or intersection
- Were driving recklessly
- Were operating the vehicle while distracted, for instance, when eating food, operation cell phones, daydreaming, or any other thing that may have taken their attention away from the roadway
- Failed to stop at traffic lights or stop signs
- Were speeding
- Knowingly drove with faulty brakes or steering
- Backed up without looking first
- Failed to signal
Sometimes, pedestrian accidents may occur due to reasons that are beyond the driver’s control. In this case, the government entity or private property owner in charge of road/pavement maintenance may be to blame for the accident. For you to prove their negligence and recover damages, you need to prove that the collision was as a result of:
- Broken/uneven sidewalks or pavements
- Improper lighting
- Unmarked crosswalks
- Damaged traffic signs or signals
- Dangerous road conditions like potholes
As a pedestrian, you can also be responsible for your injuries in case of an accident. We shall later on look at what happens if the defendant proves you are also to blame for a crash. Pedestrian negligence can come in various forms, including:
- Walking on the roadway or other places that aren’t safe for walkers, particularly if the areas are designated as being unsafe. Pedestrians should always use sidewalks
- Partaking in dangerous or distracting behaviors like listening to music on headphones, texting, or receiving a phone call while walking
- Using a crosswalk when the light is red
The Process Towards Damage Recovery
Most of the smaller injury claims are settled before a suit is filed. If your lawyer thinks your case will settle, he/she will make a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance company or lawyer. If settlement negotiations stall, or the parties fail to reach an agreement, your case proceeds to the litigation stage.
The litigation process begins when your attorney files an injury suit in court. The lawsuit filing starts off the clock on when your case may get to the trial stage. Note that a suit has to be brought within strict time frames as we shall see later on in this article.
After filing an injury lawsuit, we have the discovery period. This is where each side investigates the defenses and legal claims of the other side. They send document requests and interrogatories to one another, and take testimonies of witnesses and other relevant parties.
When the discovery phase elapses, the lawyers from both sides will begin talking settlement. At times, the attorneys may settle by negotiating among themselves. However, in other situations, they will have to go through a mediation process, where you, the defendant, and both attorneys get assistance from an unbiased third party mediator to try and settle.
Mediation usually works. However if it fails, you will go to trial. A trial may last a single day, week, or longer. One critical point to note concerning trials is that just because your case is set for trial doesn’t mean the trial will indeed happen on the scheduled date. Usually, trials get pushed due to the judge’s schedule. In case your trial is moved you shouldn’t automatically deduce that something unfavorable is happening. Trials get delayed all the time, and for good reasons. If the trial is successful, you will receive your compensation as the court orders.
Recoverable Damages After a Pedestrian Crash
If you file a civil lawsuit against the party that injured you in a pedestrian collision, you may be awarded compensatory and punitive damages if the judge’s ruling favors you. Compensatory damages are further divided into two: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are also known as special damages. They compensate for the monetary expenses you incurred due to accident-related injuries. They’re distinctive to the individual victim and vary substantially from one person to the other. Economic damages are meant to make you whole again for costs incurred or money lost because of the accident. They can easily be calculated into a definite amount. Examples of these damages include:
- Medical bills, including ambulance rides, hospital stays, emergency services, radiology, surgeries, prescription medication, and follow-up care
- Future medical costs when a catastrophic or severe injury leads to a permanent disability that requires continuous and indefinite care and treatment
- Expenses for temporary disability
- Rehabilitation charges for doctors that help injured parties regain function, for instance, a physiotherapist
- Loss of future earning capacity if a severe injury prevents you from ever going back to gainful employment
- Lost income if you must miss going to work due to the crash, injury, and recovery
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Cost for property damage
Also known as general damages, non-economic damages compensate for the non-monetary damages you incur after an accident. They’re referred to as general since they address the harm that’s typically suffered in an accident. It’s expected for victims of personal injury cases to at least have general damages. These damages cannot be easily quantified into a definite amount since they compensate for intangible losses. Examples include:
- Pain & suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- A decline in quality of life
- Loss of consortium for a spouse
Punitive damages are reserved only for extreme cases, including gross negligence and intentional harm. They are intended to punish the at-fault party when they are guilty of dreadful actions. They are awarded to punish the liable party when they deserve to be punished. Apart from punishing the defendant, punitive damages are also meant to serve as a warning to entities and people considering acting in the same way as the defendant.
A civil lawsuit cannot result in a ruling that sentences a person to jail. Imprisonment or jail sentences happen only in criminal cases. But Nevada legislators want to make sure that liable parties are harshly punished when they injure others unnecessarily. For these severe punishments to be allowed, the lawmakers implemented laws that permit punitive damages to give victims of severe civil wrongs a remedy and punish the negligent actors that are accountable.
Punitive damages are not centered on your actual losses. This makes them different from other kinds of damages in pedestrian accident cases. Unlike non-economic and economic damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for anything. Rather, they are intended to send a message to the at-fault party. They are not based on your property damage or injuries. Rather, they focus on the acts of the negligent party. Your losses and needs do not count as far as punitive damages are concerned. Instead, they are based on the defendant’s poor behavior and what it will take to punish them and discourage similar wrongful acts from other people.
Typically, punitive damages in Nevada are capped. They do not exceed:
- A $300,000 fine in case the amount of the compensatory damages awarded is lower than $100,000
- Three times the compensatory damages amount if the awarded amount is $100,000 or higher
However, these limits aren’t applied if the collision was caused by a driver that was drunk or stoned because of voluntary drug use (including prescription and over-the-counter medications) or alcohol consumption.
Wrongful Death Damages
If you’ve lost a member of your family or your loved one due to a pedestrian accident, you can also recover damages. Nevada law permits the surviving members of the family of the deceased to sue the at-fault party for damages by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, as per the same law, only specific family members can bring this kind of lawsuit. These are:
- The deceased’s children
- The personal representative of the estate
- The surviving registered domestic partner or spouse of the deceased
- The decedent’s parents if there is no surviving spouse, domestic partner, or child
- Other individuals might be permitted to bring the wrongful death suit if they can establish that they depended on the deceased financially when he/she was still alive
If the lawsuit is successful, damages that the above parties can recover include:
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Medical bills that arise from the decedent’s final illness or injury
- Property damage due to the crash
- Loss of care, companionship, and affection of the deceased
- Lost income and other benefits the victim would have earned if they were alive
- Other damages specific to the relationship between the deceased and the family member
If your family member dies due to injuries sustained in a pedestrian accident, you should reach out to a lawyer to determine if you are eligible to sue for compensation. The attorney will advise on the most appropriate legal action you can take to get justice for both you and your family.
What Happens If You Are Partially Liable for the Pedestrian Accident?
Suppose you are severely injured after a pedestrian collision, and you file an injury lawsuit. After reviewing all the proof, the jury concludes the defendant was liable for causing the crash, but that you also bear a percentage of the fault. What will happen next in a situation like this? How will this ruling impact your entitlement to compensation? Let’s find out.
Nevada follows the modified comparative negligence rule. This means you may recover damages if you are at fault, but the compensation amount will be reduced as per your negligence percentage. However, you are only allowed to recover damages if you are 50% or less to blame for the accident. If you are 51% or more at fault, you won’t get any compensation.
For example, suppose the jury establishes that your injuries, property damage, and other losses are worth $100,000.The jury also determines you were 50% accountable for the accident. In this case, the total compensation amount will be reduced by 50%, which equals $50,000, meaning you will go home with a compensation amount of $50,000.
Note that in most pedestrian accident cases, the walker is partly to blame. It could be that the hit pedestrian was drunk, texting, or merely looking at something that distracted their attention. Attorneys on both the complainant and defendant’s side will search for phone records, eyewitnesses, and surveillance videos to prove their allegations and build their defenses.
The modified comparative negligence law binds Nevada juries and judges (if your case goes to trial), and it also guides the insurance adjuster when they are evaluating your claim. Also, it is worth noting that since there’s no empirical method of allocating liability, any assignment of the fault will eventually be dependent on your ability to persuade the jury or judge or negotiate with the insurance adjuster.
What If it’s a Hit and Run Case?
According to the law, the motorist has to stay at the scene until the police permit them to go, generally after they are done with investigating the site and questioning all the people involved. If it is a hit & run, try and take pictures of the vehicle or the license plate number. If you can’t, try to see if any eyewitness can do it for you.
Usually, in a hit & run incident, the police will try to find the responsible driver. If the driver is found, he/she will be held accountable for the crash and be required to compensate you. If the driver is not found, you can still recover compensation from your insurance policy. In this case, there’s a specific process to follow and steps you should take to improve your chances of a successful claim. You should talk to an attorney who will advise you on what to do.
Statute of Limitations for Pedestrian Crash Victims to Recover Damages
Every state in the U.S has a statute of limitations for pedestrian injury lawsuits. A statute of limitations is essentially the timeframe within which your pedestrian crash claim has to be filed. The statute of limitations to bring a pedestrian personal injury claim/suit in Nevada is two years. The two years are counted from the date the collision took place or when you discovered your injuries. The court is likely to dismiss any suit brought after the two-year deadline has expired.
How an Attorney Will Help You Recover Damages
A pedestrian crash case may become incredibly complicated. Whereas it might seem evident that another party is to blame for the accident, that isn’t how the insurance provider will depict the incident since they seek to reduce settlement amounts. You have to hire an attorney to be your advocate. He/she will do the following for you:
- Secure all proof from the accident scene, including crash reports, eyewitness statements, video and photo surveillance footage, etc.
- Work with a financial expert to evaluate your total compensation for the injuries resulting from the accident
- Ensure you’re examined by a trusted medical professional, who can establish the degree of your injuries
- Negotiate with the aggressive insurance company to obtain a just settlement on your behalf
- Prepare your case for trial if that’s what’s needed to obtain the damages your deserve
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney gives you the best chance to win your pedestrian accident injury claim or suit. A lawyer will collect the proof to build and present the best possible case. If you hire a lawyer, you will be relieved of the stress of navigating the insurance claim negotiation and settlement process or the legal system.
Ensure you hire a lawyer you trust, who has a succeeding record in obtaining a maximum settlement and favorable verdicts for their clients. The legal team at Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm has a record of successfully litigating pedestrian crash cases, and is eager to assist you with your case. Call us today at 702-996-1224. We offer a cost-free consultation during which you’ll learn how we may help you to pursue fair compensation for your losses and injuries.