Phoenix has always been an automobile town. There are millions of cars on the road in the metro area, traveling on wide sweeping streets. Occasionally, pedestrians need to cross these roads, and the heavy traffic does not make it easy.
If you or your child suffered harm in a pedestrian accident, you need the right legal assistance. Do not wait to consult with our Phoenix pedestrian accident attorneys at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers about how to protect your rights.
The Most Dangerous Intersections in Phoenix for Pedestrians
Phoenix has many dangerous spots for pedestrians.
- 7th Avenue/I-10 Interchange
- Cactus Road/I-17 Interchange
- 32nd St/SR 202 Interchange
- Bethany Home Road/I-17 Interchange
- Camelback Road/I-17 Interchange
- Dunlap Avenue/I-17 Interchange
Pedestrian fatalities across the country have increased dramatically over the last decade, and the Phoenix area is no exception. The car-friendly nature of Phoenix seems to come at the direct expense of pedestrian safety. The city has spent money on trying to improve crosswalk safety, which has made a slight improvement in fatality numbers. However, the number of pedestrians killed in Phoenix is still unacceptably high.
Phoenix Invested in Pedestrian Safety But Fatality Numbers Are Still High
The number of pedestrian fatalities in Phoenix peaked in 2018. In that year, 112 pedestrians died on city streets. This prompted the city to make investments to improve things like lighting, as many pedestrian accidents happen at night. The number of deaths has fallen, but many factors that have caused the spike in pedestrian fatalities are still in place.
- More motorists are driving distracted because they are on their smartphones.
- Cars have become bigger as more people have opted for larger SUVs and trucks. This increases the risk of death and serious injury.
- The warmer weather in Arizona means that people are out walking at more times of the year.
- An emphasis on walkability has brought more pedestrians out onto the streets and sidewalks.
- More drivers are under the influence of things like prescription medication and cannabis.
- The wide urban roads in Phoenix have higher speeds, which increases the chances that someone may suffer fatal injuries.
Much of the attention paid to pedestrian accidents focuses on fatality numbers. These accidents have the highest fatality rate of any type of traffic accident because the pedestrian has nothing to protect them from the force of the car or the impact with the pavement. In a way, they are completely unprotected.
Pedestrian Accident Survivors Often Have Serious Injuries
Even when an accident victim survives, they may face permanent and life-altering injuries. There are very few pedestrians hit by cars who are fortunate enough to walk away without any injuries. Chances are that they will suffer serious injuries. In one recent year, 75,000 people nationally sustained injuries in pedestrian crashes.
Survival could mean a long medical road ahead of the accident victim, and they may never return to normal. Instead, they could live a life filled with medical procedures, rehabilitation, and the need for care. All of this could come from being in the wrong place at the wrong time for just a moment.
The accident victim’s chances of survival decrease the faster the car is traveling. Most people survive car-pedestrian crashes when the car is traveling at a slower speed, usually under 25 miles per hour. When the vehicle is traveling at 30 miles per hour or more, the victim has only a 45 percent chance of survival. This drops to five percent when the speed is 40 miles per hour or greater.
Even survival means that a victim is dealing with injuries, and some of them can be life-threatening. There will likely be high medical bills and time missed from work. Even family members may need to take time off from work to care for their loved ones.
You Must Prove that the Driver Was Responsible for the Crash
A successful pedestrian accident case begins with proving that the driver was responsible for the crash. Just because a car hits someone does not mean that the driver is automatically to blame for the accident. The requirement is that an injured victim prove that the driver was negligent in causing the injuries. This is a legal term of art.
Proving negligence requires that the claimant or plaintiff has evidence of what happened to cause the crash. The victim has the burden of proof to show that their side of the story is more likely than not to have happened. Of course, an injured victim or their family would be hard-pressed to prove their case on their own, not knowing how the legal process works and dealing with severe physical injuries.
Evidence that Helps Prove Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident Case
Here is some of the evidence that your lawyer could use to help prove your pedestrian accident case:
- Pictures of the scene of the accident
- Pictures of the damage to the car that struck you or a loved one
- Surveillance video of the crosswalk (if available)
- Testimony of an expert witness who could recreate the accident
- Witness testimony from people who saw the accident
- The police report of the accident (usable in the insurance claims process but not admissible as evidence in a court case to prove what happened)
What is Negligence in a Pedestrian Accident Case?
Many instances of negligence can lead to compensation after a pedestrian accident.
- Failure to yield the right of way at a crosswalk
- Making a turn while the pedestrian has the light to cross the street
- Hitting a pedestrian anywhere on the roadway while speeding
- Not seeing a pedestrian because the driver was on their mobile device
If the police come to the scene and issue the driver a ticket, this could go a long way to proving your case. The observations in the police report could be helpful, even if they are not admissible as evidence in your case.
Dealing With Insurance Companies in Your Case
When you or a loved one sustained injuries in a pedestrian crash you may be left to deal with the driver’s auto insurance company. Even if you were the victim of a hit-and-run (nearly 20 percent of accidents involve cases where the driver does not stop), you would still be dealing with your own insurance company if you need to file an uninsured motorist claim. Just because an insurance company is “your own” does not mean that they will gladly pay out the full value of your claim. Their foremost loyalty is to their own profits.
Your Legal Options After a Pedestrian Accident
The rule of thumb with an insurance company is that they will do everything that they can to avoid paying you what you legally deserve.
After you were in a pedestrian accident, you have two choices:
- You can work with an insurance company to settle your case
- You can file a lawsuit against the driver
The two are not mutually exclusive. You can explore a possible settlement with the insurance company before deciding to file a lawsuit against the responsible driver. Many families will first look to the insurance company because it is a means of getting money faster without having to take the risk of a jury trial. Jury verdicts often mean more money, but they could take years to get, and there is always a risk that the jury could find the driver not liable for the injuries.
Insurance Companies Make the Process Hard
However, the insurance claims process is not always the easiest for families because that is the way that the insurance companies want it. They want to wear claimants down so that they will accept an offer that is far below what the claim is worth. The insurance company takes advantage of the fact that many people do not know the full value of their claim, and they pressure them to accept less than they could otherwise receive.
The fact is that the costs of pedestrian accident injuries add up quickly. These injuries are rarely minor. However, even a sprain or fracture will cost thousands of dollars to treat. If the victim suffers a permanent injury, the costs will be far greater. For example, a spinal cord injury will have lifetime costs that begin at well over $1 million. Traumatic brain injuries have similarly high costs to treat.
The Costs of Treating Serious Pedestrian Accident Injuries
In addition, accident victims may need lifelong care. Severely injured victims may never work again. The accident victim and their family may receive money for all of these.
Here are examples of treatment and care that those severely injured in pedestrian accidents might need:
- Home health care that may even be around-the-clock
- Fitting the home to accommodate someone with a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury
- Specially fitted medical equipment
- The cost of years of therapy and rehabilitation
- The lost wages of family members who cannot work because they are caring for the accident victim
You can expect that the settlement process with the insurance company will be difficult. After all, they are likely writing a large check for serious injuries, and they will not willingly write it without you needing to fight for what you deserve.
The Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit Process
You always can file a lawsuit at some point in the process. You could do that even without filing an insurance claim. This does not mean that a settlement is out of the question. In fact, most injury lawsuits will result in a settlement agreement. The defendant does not want to go in front of a jury, every bit as much as the plaintiff wants to settle the case to get their money.
If your pedestrian accident case goes to court, here is what you can expect as part of your case:
- Your lawyer will begin the case by filing a complaint in court and serving it on the defendant
- The defendant will have a chance to answer the allegations in your complaint
- You and the defendant will have the opportunity to learn information from each other through a process called discovery. This will allow you to request documents and information. It also means that you may have depositions taken.
- If the case has not settled, it will go to a trial in front of a jury, where they will decide whether the defendant is liable and how much they need to pay.
You Can Still Recover, Even if You Were Partially at Fault
One common legal issue that pedestrian accident victims face is the fact that the insurance company may try to argue that they were to blame for their own injuries. This is a tactic that they usually use to try to escape responsibility or cut the amount that they need to pay.
In Phoenix, it is much more difficult for the defendant to completely avoid paying based on any fault of the accident victim. Even if the accident victim was partially to blame for what happened, they can still recover. This could even include situations where they were crossing outside a crosswalk or intersection. The point is never to assume that you or a loved one cannot receive financial compensation. Even if the other party bears even a small part of the blame, you can still recover. No matter the circumstances of your accident, always contact a lawyer at Zanes Law to discuss your case.
Pedestrian Accident FAQs
If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, you likely have many questions. Please reach out to our team at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers for specific answers, and below are only some of the questions we regularly hear.
Should I See a Doctor if I Think That I’m Okay?
Yes. Few pedestrians are truly all right after a pedestrian accident. A 3,000-pound vehicle is bound to cause an injury to almost every pedestrian it strikes. Even if you feel okay, get a medical opinion to confirm that. Some injuries do not show symptoms right after an accident.
For example, symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can take days or weeks to manifest themselves. Even ligament damage is not always apparent in the days after an injury. If nothing else, you can get peace of mind from getting a clean bill of health after a pedestrian accident. If you are injured, prompt treatment is important to help you recover. Getting a doctor’s diagnosis and evaluation will form the basis of your insurance claim if you make it.
If you have the urge to tough it out after the accident, resist it. Knowing about your health is important.
Why Are There More Pedestrian Accident Fatalities These Days?
After reaching a low in the early part of this century, pedestrian accident fatalities have been on a steady uptick over the past ten years, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Many factors contribute to the rise. The first is the increasing use of smartphones, which distract drivers behind the wheel. They often miss crosswalks because they are checking their phone or sending a text. Second, the size of vehicles on the road has increased.
The average vehicle weighs almost 3,000 pounds. As more people shift away from sedans to SUVs, these cars are only getting bigger. The larger the car, the more significant injury the pedestrian will suffer. Third, there are more pedestrians on the streets than ever. Between warmer weather and more people moving to downtown areas, people are walking and getting around without cars. An increase in pedestrians means a higher fatality number.
Do I Still Have a Case if I Was Not in the Crosswalk?
Often, yes. While pedestrians must cross the street at crosswalks or intersections and should not cross outside them, drivers must also exercise reasonable care behind the wheel. If they strike a pedestrian outside a crosswalk when they are speeding, the driver can still be to blame for the accident, which is also true if the driver did not see you because they were texting on the phone.
In Arizona, the law is never as simple as one party is entirely to blame for the accident, and the other does not receive compensation. Even if you were not in the crosswalk, you might still recover something unless the driver did absolutely nothing wrong in the situation. Always contact a lawyer after a pedestrian accident because you may not be as much to blame as you think.
How Do I Receive Payment for My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Initially, your health insurance (if you have it) will cover the bills after a car accident. In the meantime, you may have co-pays and deductibles for your medical care that you must pay, regardless of whether you will be getting a settlement check. Such a situation can present you with financial difficulties before your case comes to a resolution. Your lawyer can help you work with the hospital or doctor to potentially buy you some time before you have to pay these bills, potentially easing the burden on you.
Eventually, your health insurance will need to be paid back for what they have already paid for your care. This repayment will come out of your settlement check, and the health insurance gets priority. You need to be aware of this when you are negotiating with the insurance company. You can be paid back for all the cost-share that you previously had to bear. In addition, your settlement will also cover your future medical bills.
How Can I Prove That a Distracted Driver Hit Me?
It is very difficult to know what happened to cause the accident. When a car strikes you, you have no warning beforehand. The chances are that you did not see what the driver was doing. However, reasonable drivers do not just hit pedestrians in a crosswalk, so there is a high probability that they were doing something wrong before the accident.
Your best hope is that there were witnesses to the accident who can testify about what a driver was doing. Even still, these people may not have seen what the driver was doing because pedestrian accidents happen so quickly.
This is when your attorney’s expertise comes into the picture. If there is suspicion that the driver was distracted, the lawyer can obtain their cell phone records from the motorist’s phone company. They will need to provide the records in response to a subpoena. These records can show that the driver was on their phone at the time of the accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer if the Driver Obviously Caused the Accident?
There are two different parts of the compensation process after a pedestrian accident, as liability is only one part of it. Of course, your claim is easier if you do not need to spend as much effort on proving that the driver was at fault. However, some issues remain after determining liability.
First, even if what happened is obvious to you, it may not be less clear to the insurance company. Second, getting the right amount of money for you requires the assistance and calculations of an experienced attorney.
You may have damages that reach into the seven-figure digits, but the insurance company can be offering a fraction of that. The worst part is that, without a knowledgeable attorney, you might have no idea that the insurance company is trying to take advantage of you. Negotiating compensation takes time, and it can require many rounds of offers and counteroffers. You can always benefit from an attorney, especially when you have suffered serious injuries. If you do not negotiate enough compensation, you can run out of money in the future when you have high medical bills and cannot work.
What Happens If the Driver Who Hit Me Does Not Have Enough Insurance?
A pedestrian accident is considered a motor vehicle accident for purposes of an insurance claim. Even if the driver has minimal or no insurance coverage, you are not out of luck. If you have auto insurance, this accident is covered by your own policy, assuming that you have underinsured motorist coverage. Then, you have coverage up to the policy limits of two insurance policies.
However, there is still an insurance company involved in the claim. Do not assume that, because you are a customer, that your own insurance company will gladly pay the full value of your claim. You will still need to negotiate with them to get what you deserve. Having two types of coverage increases the chances that you can recover enough money to pay for your injuries.
Can I Sue Anyone Else Besides the Driver in a Pedestrian Accident?
In most cases, the driver will be the primary and only defendant in the case. However, if the driver was on the job when they hit you, their employer might be vicariously liable for the accident and your injuries.
In addition, some pedestrian accidents are alcohol-related. If the driver was drunk, and a restaurant or bar served them when they were obviously intoxicated, you can sue the owner of the establishment under Arizona’s dram shop laws. In addition, the City of Phoenix may potentially be liable, depending on the maintenance the crosswalk did or did not receive. If the area has poor lighting or if the crosswalk lights are not properly working, you may sue the government for damages.
What Happens When I Meet With My Lawyer for the First Time?
You should bring all the documentation for your claim to your meeting with your attorney. The lawyer will ask you quite a few questions about the accident. You should answer whatever you can, but your lawyer will understand that you may not remember everything about the accident, especially when you have suffered significant injuries. The lawyer will want to know that you have a reasonable claim before they agree to represent you.
In addition, you will also want to know that you are talking with the right lawyer to represent you. At some point, the attorney will explain your legal options and the process for obtaining compensation. They may also explain any potential strengths and weaknesses of your case.
What Are Some Factors Considered When Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident?
To determine liability in a pedestrian accident, an insurance company or jury may consider:
- Did the driver have enough time to avoid the accident or take evasive action?
- Where did the pedestrian try to cross the street?
- Was the driver familiar with the roadway around them?
- Was the driver traveling at or below the posted speed limit?
- Was the driver doing anything else besides driving at the time of the accident?
- What were the road or weather conditions at the time of the incident?
The insurance company or the jury will consider all of the conditions in deciding who was at fault for the crash. They may hear from the driver, the injured pedestrian, and anyone else who saw the accident to reach the decision.
What Happens if an Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
It is very rare for an insurance company to deny a pedestrian accident personal injury claim in its entirety. Doing so would mean that the pedestrian was 100 percent to blame for the accident. While this is possible, the driver usually bears some fault.
However, the law determines your legal rights, and the insurance company is not a court. They are merely an intermediary that insures the defendant. Theirs is not the final word about whether you can obtain financial compensation. If the insurance company denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit. Insurance companies do not like lawsuits because they have significant legal risks. The chances are that they will at least offer you something, but do not be discouraged if they do not.
What Should I Do Before Filing a Claim?
The first thing is to see a doctor and receive a comprehensive medical diagnosis of your injuries. The insurance company will need to see the nature of your injuries before they will make a settlement offer. Then, contact an attorney to help prepare your claim.
What Happens if I Need to File a Lawsuit?
The legal process can take time to resolve until you receive your check. Your court case will begin when your lawyer drafts a complaint stating the facts and your legal grounds for relief. They will file it with the court and serve it on the defendant. It takes some time for the case to unfold. Courts have packed dockets, and it may take a year or more before a court hears your case. Before that, you will need to go through the discovery process.
One of the major parts of discovery is a deposition, when the defendant’s lawyer asks you questions for up to seven hours with your attorneys present. Your lawyer will also have the right to gather evidence and conduct depositions of people involved in your case.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will call witnesses. The jury will hear the evidence and will decide your case. If they find that the defendant was liable, they will order damages. Juries often will award more money than you can receive from an insurance settlement, but it means that your case takes extra time, and you have the risk of getting nothing if you lose the case.
Contact a Phoenix Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today
The time to contact an attorney is right after the accident. Even if you do not file a claim or lawsuit right away, you will need to prepare for when you do file. You do not want to waste time after your accident when your lawyer could gather evidence and help start the claims process.
It does not cost anything out of pocket to get Zanes Law Injury Lawyers working on your case. Instead, we only receive payment if you win your case. You have nothing to lose by contacting our team to learn more about our Phoenix Pedestrian accident lawyers and how we can help.
We know that cars don’t just hit pedestrians during business hours. You can call us any time, day or night, if you need our help. Reach out to us at (602) 999-9999 or contact us online, and we’ll start with your free claim evaluation.