Many people now walk more frequently as a way to get exercise or run errands in their neighborhood. It can be a great way to get more fresh air and spend time in nature, but it also puts you at risk of injury from someone else’s negligence. When you are walking, running, riding a skateboard, or skating close to streets or in cities, it is easy to be hurt unexpectedly as a pedestrian.
If you or a loved one has been injured by someone while walking, contact a West Memphis personal injury lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC. We can show you how to pursue a claim and win the compensation you deserve.
Risks You Face as a Pedestrian
As the Memphis area develops, city planners are looking to include more mixed-use communities and pocket neighborhoods that make the city more walkable for residents. This means more opportunities for people and vehicles to encounter each other, and a greater risk for pedestrian accidents. As construction increases, even preventative measures taken by building companies will not always protect people passing by.
Pedestrian accidents often occur when someone, either a driver or the pedestrian themselves, is not giving their full attention to where they are going. Failing to obey crosswalk signs can put a walker in the path of a truck or a driver making a right turn in a hurry might not see someone stepping off the curb to cross. Even a low-speed impact from a vehicle can cause significant injury to an adult and could be deadly for a child.
Pedestrians can even be at risk from other pedestrians. If someone is running through a crowded sidewalk, it is easy for them to knock another person down. The same is true for skateboarders or skaters; even a skilled rider can lose control on sidewalks or walk paths and cause injuries.
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What to Do if You Are Injured as a Pedestrian
In the last reporting year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that over 140,000 people were treated for non-fatal injuries related to an accident with a vehicle and over 7,000 individuals died. If you are hurt by a car, truck, or motorcycle, it’s important to know how to proceed to ensure your safety and recovery.
The first step is to seek medical care. This could be as simple as seeing a doctor after a minor incident that does not incapacitate you. Even if the accident is more serious and you receive treatment from first responders at the scene, you should follow up with your physician. Bruises or swelling could develop hours or days after injury, and symptoms of a concussion might not be immediately evident.
Once you are physically cared for, it is important to begin understanding who should be held responsible for your injury. A West Memphis pedestrian accident lawyer can guide you on how to proceed. Filing a personal injury claim can bring compensation from the individual who harmed you or their insurance company.
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Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident
Many pedestrians listen to music or other entertainment through earbuds or headphones. This means they may not have their full attention on their surroundings. Likewise, many drivers are listening to the radio or having a conversation with their passengers.
Using cell phones makes both drivers and pedestrians more distracted and likely to make mistakes. In short, there are a lot of reasons why it may be difficult to determine exactly who is at fault in an accident.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Tennessee follows a modified comparative negligence system, where fault can be assigned to more than one party in a personal injury claim, including the person injured. In cases where the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault, the jury will award no damages to the victim. This also holds true if it can be found that the plaintiff knowingly caused injury or death to another party, such as if they purposely walked in front of a car to cause it to swerve and crash.
To prove someone is at fault for your pedestrian accident, you must show that they are guilty of negligence and that their negligence directly led to your injuries. In some cases, the defendant can countersue if they feel you are also at fault, and it can become very complicated. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in West Memphis is vital in ensuring you collect sufficient evidence to prove your claim.
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Your lawyer and their professional team will aid you in gathering the right kind of evidence for a successful case. There are many sources of evidence, and what is most effective depends on the details of the accident. Ideally, it will highlight the events leading to the incident and the extent of your injuries.
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Some Typical Types of Evidence Used in Pedestrian Accident Personal Injury Claims Are:
- Traffic camera footage
- Dashboard camera footage
- Video or photos from witnesses
- Police photographs of the accident scene
- Driver cell phone records (state law prohibits holding a phone while driving)
- Police reports
- EMT reports
- Medical records and receipts for medical treatment
- Witness statements
- Driving records (which could show a history of moving violations or drunk driving)
These materials are useful when you are claiming fault by other parties. They can also be used as a foundation for calculating damages to seek. You can pursue both economic and non-economic damages for your injuries.
Economic losses are those which are easily measurable, such as doctor bills or lost wages from work. Non-economic costs do not come with a specific price tag but are no less damaging.
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Seeking Damages for a Pedestrian Accident in Tennessee
Your lawyer will help you put together a full story of your accident and its impact on your life to properly assign a value to your case. When an accident is especially serious, the injuries could affect you for a lifetime. You may need to change careers or be left unable to work at all.
You may need to provide constant care for a child who is now severely disabled from an accident. Regardless of how minor or how drastic the injuries are, you may not be able to rely on your personal insurance to cover your costs. In cases where the accident is clearly someone else’s fault, you should not be expected to simply shoulder the financial and emotional burden without justice.
Seeking damages in a personal injury claim can ensure your needs are taken care of while you recover. A qualified pedestrian accident lawyer will help you understand the laws governing damages in Tennessee. You are allowed to seek the full amount of economic damages you have (or expect to) incur.
Non-economic damages are limited but should be sought as they are very real effects that can result from an accident.
Economic Damages You Can Claim
There are many types of economic damages and most are easily calculated using bills or receipts. Common examples include:
- Medical treatment bills
- ER bills
- Funeral expenses
- Hospital costs
- Physical therapy bills
- Travel costs for medical care
- Lost wages if you are rendered unable to work
- Loss of future income if you are disabled and cannot work again
- Cleaning, cooking, etc. services for your home if you are unable to do these
- Home renovations to accommodate a disability
Tennessee Code § 29-39-102 (2014) puts a limit on the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can pursue. In personal injury claims, this limit is $750,000 regardless of the number of defendants involved. In the case of a catastrophic injury, the amount is raised to $1 million.
Types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering (emotional and physical)
- Physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of normal activities
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
While you are likely to receive all your economic damages if you win your case outright, it is important to remember that comparative negligence means that you could win only part of what you seek. For example, if you crossed against a traffic light right before it changed but the driver was speeding to beat a yellow light, you could be found 25% at fault. Your damages would be reduced by 25%. Again, Tennessee law states that if you are 50% or more at fault, you will receive no damages.
When it is especially clear that the defendant acted recklessly or intentionally, the jury could decide to award punitive damages. These are meant to serve as a warning to others who may engage in the same behaviors and to harshly punish the defendant for their actions.
Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney in West Memphis Today
If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian, contact a West Memphis pedestrian accident attorney at the offices of Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC immediately. We are proud to serve clients in the tri-state area of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Use our convenient online contact form to receive a free consultation today.