Throughout the years of handling accident cases in Massachusetts, we have represented numerous pedestrians, who were hit by vehicles and hurt badly. The injuries in these types of accidents are usually horrific. This is obvious, because when someone is walking, they have no protection when they are hit by a car. If you are in a car and are hit by another car, at least you have the seat belt and the surrounding parts of your car to somewhat protect you. Likewise, even when you are hit by a car while driving a motorcycle, at least you have a helmet on (hopefully), which can provide protection for your head. A car is really just a hunk of metal traveling really fast and the collision between a car and a pedestrian is serious. Pedestrians end up with severe injuries, including broken or fractured bones, traumatic head injuries, knee or leg injuries, shoulder injuries, back injuries and in some situations death. As serious as the injuries can be, the question is: Can a pedestrian be compensated after being hit by a car?
Negligence Law on Pedestrian Accidents
Most think that people hit by cars are automatically entitled to compensation for their injuries. This is not entirely accurate. The same principles of negligence apply to pedestrian vs. motor vehicle accidents as they do to car vs. car accidents. The mere fact that a car struck and injured a pedestrian is not evidence of the negligence of the driver of that car.
The pedestrian as the claimant or plaintiff in a civil case, has the burden of proving or demonstrating that the driver of the motor vehicle was negligent. Negligence is a civil cause of action on which a claim or lawsuit may be filed for money damages to compensate the injured party. So, a pedestrian hit and injured by a car in Massachusetts can file a claim or lawsuit against that driver claiming that he or she was negligent and caused the pedestrian’s injuries.
A lot of pedestrian accidents occur in crosswalks. There are laws in Massachusetts that govern these types of accidents. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 89 § 11 states “When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk…” This doesn’t automatically mean that when a pedestrian is in a cross walk they are entitled to compensation. There are numerous factors that are evaluated in determining if the driver was negligent, such as, traffic lights and signals, obstructions, the time of day the accident occurred.
While it may seem easy to establish fault in these types of accident, it is not always that simple. Believe it or not, insurance companies don’t just pay out money to pedestrians, who were hit by cars. They often contest liability and deny claims. We have seen this too often and this is why we thoroughly investigate accidents right away in order to obtain and save evidence that can be used to establish negligence on the part of the driver.
Examples of Pedestrian Accident Cases
- In a Massachusetts wrongful death case, the Court entered a verdict for a driver of a car, who struck and killed a man crossing the street. In that case, the driver first saw the pedestrian as he crossed the road on a dark night while dressed in dark clothing. There was no evidence of excessive speed by the driver or any other evidence or factors that would establish or even infer negligence.
- In a different Massachusetts accident case, a driver was found negligent for hitting a pedestrian crossing the road. In that case, although there was no direct evidence that the driver was negligent, it was reasonably inferred that the pedestrian was in plain view of the driver and that the driver failed to exercise due care and could have stopped or turned to avoid hitting the pedestrian.
- A driver traveling at an unreasonable rate of speed can be evidence of the driver’s negligence. In another case, a driver was found at fault for an accident where there was evidence that he operated at a speed in violation of the law while approaching an intersection and hit and injured a pedestrian.
In these types of accidents, pedestrians can recover money damages for their injuries. Compensation can be for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Tips of What You Should Do if Hit by a Car While Walking
If you are hit by a car while walking you should take action right away. Now, obviously, try to follow these tips only if you are safely able to do so. You do not want to cause further injury to yourself.
- Call the Police/911: If you have a cell phone and are able to, call the police right away. If you cannot or don’t have a phone on you, ask a bystander to call for you. The police will summons an ambulance to treat you or any other injured persons at the scene. The police will also speak to witnesses, the driver of the car, and get the necessary information you may need to later file a claim for compensation.
- Take Photographs: Again, if you are able to, take photographs of the scene, the car that hit you and your injuries. This will freeze the scene and allow your lawyer and insurance adjusters to see exactly what it looked like on the day of the accident. Sometimes, pictures of where the car was at the accident or street signals in the background have been helpful in establishing fault on the part of the driver.
- Get Medical Attention: If an ambulance arrives and EMTs suggest being transported to the Emergency Room, you should go. They are educated and experience medical professionals and you should follow their advice. We have seen too many times that accident victims refuse to go by ambulance to the ER and go home only to go to the ER later on when they realize that their injuries and pain are much worse than they thought. Insurance companies use these refusals to be transported by ambulance to down play the extent of injuries. Also, follow your doctors’ advice and don’t miss doctor’s appointments. Missed doctors’ appointments and failure to follow up with treatment and medical evaluations will seriously impact any possible recovery in an injury claim.
- Don’t talk to Insurance Company: You should not speak to the other driver’s insurance company. They will definitely call you and try to get a statement from you. You have no obligation to speak with them and don’t have to submit to a statement. The insurance companies will try to use your statement to defend their driver and place blame on you.
- Speak with an Experience Personal Injury Lawyer: Speaking or meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney might be the best thing you do in pursuit of compensation for injuries suffered after being hit by a car. A lawyer can help educate you on the injury claim process and help you take the necessary steps to maximize your potential settlement. An experienced personal injury lawyer will protect you from making mistakes that can hurt your claim and fight to get you money you deserve.
Mahaney & Pappas have over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims. We have successfully represented clients, who were hit and seriously injured by cars while walking. Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries.
Call us today at (508) 879-3500 or online to discuss your case with us.