The process of recovering from serious injuries can be long and arduous. This is especially true after a pedestrian accident since the injuries are often catastrophic. Broken bones, scarring, and brain trauma are all common. If the driver who caused the accident fled the scene, you may be worried about both your financial future and your physical health.
If you’re not sure how to cover your medical bills and other damages, you should schedule a free consultation with a pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can review the facts of your case, assess your own insurance policies, and help you determine the most strategic way to proceed. Your lawyer may even be able to assist law enforcement in identifying the liable motorist.
Read on to learn the answers to some FAQs about hit and run pedestrian accident claims:
1. What Should I Do After a Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident?
The steps you take after a hit and run pedestrian accident are similar to those you would take after any other motor-vehicle collision; however, it is especially important that you take action right away. You should contact the police immediately so the authorities can start tracking down the driver who hit you. Waiting just a few hours to report the crash could severely diminish the likelihood of identifying the at-fault motorist.
If you were not rushed to the hospital, you should seek medical attention right away. To win a fair settlement, you must be able to prove the kinds of injuries you sustained and their severity. You will also have to tie them to the crash and demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to mitigate your damages. Visiting a doctor immediately after leaving the scene will help in all these regards. The sooner you undergo a medical assessment, the less likely the opposing party may be to dispute your claim.
After your medical evaluation, you should contact a pedestrian accident lawyer to set up a free consultation. You should then take a few minutes to write down every detail you remember about the collision—the make, model, and color of the vehicle; its license plate number; any identifiable features on the vehicle such as dents or stickers; where and when the crash happened; whether there were eyewitnesses; whether you were jaywalking; and any other pertinent facts.
You should also compile any evidence and documents your attorney might request. These include:
- Photos of the scene;
- The names and contact info of any eyewitnesses;
- The names and badge numbers of responding law enforcement officers;
- The contact information of your medical providers;
- Your own insurance policies; and
- Your medical and financial records.
To minimize the likelihood of facing a dispute, you should disable your social media accounts temporarily to prevent the opposing party from using your online content to dispute your claim. You should also follow your doctor’s instructions exactly, and direct any phone calls from the insurance company to your attorney.
2. Are Punitive Damages Available After a Hit and Run Accident?
Maybe. Pedestrian accidents almost always cause injury, and they are often fatal if the victim does not receive immediate medical care. Therefore, when a driver chooses to flee the scene of a pedestrian accident, they are willfully disregarding the safety of others. This would constitute malice, which is a basis on which punitive damages can be awarded in California.
3. What Kinds of Compensatory Damages Might Be Recoverable?
Unlike punitive damages, which are awarded to punish the defendant and to deter similar misconduct in the future, compensatory damages encompass the economic and non-economic damages incurred by the victim. In the state of California, the following compensatory damages may be available after a pedestrian accident:
- Past medical bills and any healthcare costs the victim is reasonably certain to accrue in the future;
- Lost income and benefits as well as any loss of future earning capacity;
- Property damage;
- Other economic damages such as home modifications and domestic help;
- Emotional distress;
- Hedonic damages; and
- Pain and suffering.
Sometimes the spouse or registered domestic partner of a pedestrian accident victim is entitled to compensation for loss of consortium. This encompasses the loss of care, comfort, assistance, love, companionship, moral support, society, affection, and the ability to have children.
4. What If I Was Jaywalking When the Accident Occurred?
If you were jaywalking, violating another traffic law, or otherwise behaving negligently when the accident occurred, your award of damages may be reduced by your own percentage of fault in accordance with California’s pure comparative negligence standard. In other words, if you were 20 percent liable for the accident, your award of damages would be reduced by 20 percent.
However, if the driver who hit you was under the influence of alcohol, speeding, or breaking another traffic law, it is possible that you will be able to recover compensation for 100 percent of your damages even if you were jaywalking. A seasoned attorney can review the facts of your case and gather the evidence needed to counter or overcome the comparative negligence defense should it arise. If you were in fact partially liable, your attorney can take steps to minimize the percentage of fault imposed on you.
Discuss Your Case with a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you were injured or lost a family member in a hit and run pedestrian accident, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks for representation. Attorney Michael Waks will do everything in his power to help law enforcement identify the liable motorist. Even if the at-fault driver is not identified, there may be other avenues available for pursuing compensation.
Michael will represent you with compassion and understanding while aggressively fighting for the highest possible compensation. He offers free case evaluations and accepts pedestrian accident claims on a contingency fee basis. You won’t have to pay anything upfront to take advantage of his legal services. Call (562) 206-1939 or send us a message to schedule a consultation.
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