Car accidents involving pedestrians often have devastating aftermaths. Anyone walking, standing, sitting, or just active in an area where car traffic exists faces a risk of suffering catastrophic injuries or death if a driver fails to exercise proper care. While it is not guaranteed that the driver is at-fault in all accidents, pedestrians suffer more injuries during incidents with the vehicle and its occupants suffering little or no damage. If you are nursing injuries following a pedestrian accident, we encourage you to contact the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm. We can help with investigations and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Even though pedestrians are more vulnerable on the road, they are not exempt from exercising their duty of care. Under Nevada Revised Statutes 484B. 287, pedestrians have the right of way on crosswalks provided they obey traffic signals. Even if they violate traffic rules, vehicles must give the right of way if this can avoid an accident. This further complicates the process of determining fault during car-pedestrian accidents.
How Dangerous Is Nevada For Pedestrians?
Between 2013 and 2017, Nevada ranked 5th nationwide for having the most pedestrian fatalities. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, 170 pedestrian accidents happen daily throughout the state. The report shows that Interstate 15-Northbound (IR 15) and Interstate 15-Southbound (IR 15) are the most notorious for causing pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Here are more statistics showing how dangerous Nevada roads are for pedestrians:
- A report filed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that about 75% of pedestrian accidents happen in urban areas. Areas with exponential growth like Reno and Las Vegas pose increased dangers to pedestrians.
- About 75% of pedestrian accidents happen at night.
- According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 50% of pedestrian accidents are caused by intoxicated drivers.
- Unfamiliarity with Nevada law is another top cause of pedestrian accidents within the state. This is more so when a pedestrian comes from a state where drivers have a legal obligation to yield the right of way at both marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Under Nevada laws, pedestrians must yield to cars in areas that are not intersections or crosswalks.
Drivers must be attentive at all times when behind the wheel. They must beware of other road users, including pedestrians on crosswalks or areas surrounding roadways. If you have suffered injuries following a pedestrian accident, it is imperative to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A skilled attorney will help you establish who is liable for the accident, how responsible they are, and the amount of compensation you should demand when filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Nevada’s Modified Comparative Negligence System
Establishing the at-fault parties following a pedestrian accident is not clear-cut as many may assume. Sometimes, there is more than one liable party. Nevada follows the modified comparative negligence system whenever more than one party bears the fault for an accident.
Generally, pedestrians can recover damages if they are not more at fault for their injuries. Under modified comparative negligence, the victim still receives compensation, although it will be minus the monetary value of their percentage of fault.
For instance, if the plaintiff bears 40% blame, they can pursue compensation because they are less than 50% liable for their injuries. However, the defendant will only pay compensation worth 60% of the total damages.
In cases with multiple defendants, each defendant will be accountable for their percentage of fault. Again, the plaintiff can only receive compensation if their percentage of fault is lesser than the combined faults of all defendants. Once the at-fault parties share the blame, they will only be responsible for paying their share of the damages.
A case can be challenging when multiple parties are involved. For instance, when two at-fault parties exist, one defendant can opt to settle out of court. A plaintiff can still proceed to trial and pursue compensation from the other defendant. In such instances, the court will still acknowledge that there were multiple at-fault parties, although the settlement will not be admissible during trial.
What was agreed upon during negotiations with the defendant that settled will not be discussed with the judge or jury. Instead, the court will focus on the remaining defendant and assign their percentage of fault based on the evidence.
Janet is crossing the road and is hit by Ken’s car. Ken was speeding and could not stop on time to stop the accident. Behind him was Brad, who crashed into Ken’s car because he was texting while driving. The tailgate crash plays a significant role in turning Jane’s injuries from bad to catastrophic. Brad agrees to settle with Janet during negotiations.
Ken does not settle, and the case proceeds to trial. The jury evaluates the evidence and says that Janet was 30% liable for damages because she did not use the crossroad. Also, the jury sets the total amount of damages at $100,000 and assigns 40% fault to Ken. Irrespective of the settlement offered by Brad, Ken should award Janet $40,000.
Parties That Can Be Liable For a Pedestrian Accident in Nevada
Nevada laws do not universally protect pedestrians from fault in an auto accident. Even though motorists often play a part in causing accidents because they should yield to pedestrians if doing so can avoid an accident, a duty of care exists among all road users.
Some of the parties that can be liable for an accident include:
Motorists are encouraged to remain alert and aware of pedestrians at all times. However, they do not always bear all fault when they hit someone. Impaired and distracted walking is equally as risky as impaired or distracted driving.
It is a misconception that pedestrians always have the right of way. Under Nevada laws, a pedestrian using a crosswalk or abiding by a crossing sign along intersections always has the right of way. Even though drivers should yield to avoid collisions, pedestrians do not have the right of way when they dart into the road. This is more so when they do not give the driver adequate time to stop.
Pedestrian accidents are clear-cut when they happen in safe zones like crosswalks. However, determining fault is tricky when outside these safe zones. Also, pedestrians can be fully or partially at fault if they engage in any of the following actions:
- Ignoring traffic lights or jaywalking — Pedestrians have the right of way at intersections as long as they follow the traffic light rules. While they can also cross paths with no traffic lights, they cannot do so when jaywalking. Jaywalking or ignoring traffic lights makes a pedestrian forfeit their right of way. They can be fully or partially liable for damages if an accident occurs.
- Impairment or mental distraction — Mental distraction and impairment caused by alcohol or drugs can make a pedestrian unreasonable, reckless or unpredictable. Such behaviors make it harder for motorists to avoid them, especially when they dart into traffic or enter a poorly lit path without taking proper precautions.
Motorists often bear some fault, especially if it was in their power to stop an accident. However, pedestrians can also be entirely to blame if they negligently or willfully put themselves in harm’s way. The case is different for children. Motorists should beware that a child cannot consistently make the best decisions to prevent injury.
Under Nevada modified comparative negligence laws, the plaintiff cannot receive compensation if they bear more than 50% fault in a pedestrian accident. If the jury decides you are 51% at fault, you cannot recover a dime. However, if a plaintiff is 49% at fault and the defendant 51% liable, they are entitled to compensation.
Motorists must always obey traffic rules and act reasonably while behind the wheel. They owe other road users the duty of care, including other drivers and pedestrians. Some of the common acts of negligence that can make a driver fully or partially liable for an accident include:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Traveling at unsafe speeds based on the roadway conditions
- Fatigued driving
- Distracted driving caused by mental distractions or using electronic devices when driving
- Impaired driving caused by the use of alcohol or drugs
- Reckless driving like running through crosswalks or intersections
Holding an at-fault driver accountable for their actions can be challenging. Even if they are only partially to blame, victims must seek legal counsel and representation from a competent car accident attorney. Your lawyer will assist with investigations and compile evidence from eyewitnesses, police officers, and medical professionals to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
The Property Owner
Property owners can be liable for a pedestrian accident because of poor or hazardous road conditions. For instance, property owners owe people who access their premises a duty of care, especially in areas with heavy foot or vehicle traffic. When an accident happens because of poorly maintained asphalt, the lack of markings, or signage, the property owner can bear all or part of the fault for injuries suffered.
Other Possible Responsible Parties
- The vehicle or vehicle part manufacturer
- The government (if an accident occurs because of a poorly maintained public road)
- The road sign manufacturer, installer, or Maintenance Company
- The company owning a vehicle
- The auto repair shop
Understanding How Fault is Determined in Pedestrian Accidents
The court depends on evidence to determine the at-fault parties in a pedestrian accident and establish their liability percentages. Four crucial elements help to prove that a defendant is liable for damages. These elements include:
A Duty of Care Existed
Motorists owe a duty of care to other road users, including pedestrians. This duty of care extends to numerous parties, including car manufacturers, mechanics at car repair and maintenance shops, and even government agencies responsible for servicing public roads. Also, drivers and pedestrians using the same road owe a duty of care to each other.
The duty of care gives people responsibility to each other. When road users exercise the duty of care, they ensure that they can all travel safely without harming each other. During a pedestrian accident, the party that fails to exercise their duty of care could be liable for the damages suffered.
The Defendant Breached the Duty of Care
A good number of accidents can be avoided by exercising the duty of care. Therefore, a party that fails to exercise their duty of care and does not do all it takes to prevent an accident or injuries can be liable for all or part of the damages suffered.
For instance, Paul walks into a bar and has several alcoholic drinks. He knows that his intoxication levels do not permit him to drive safely. Still, he gets behind the wheel and unfortunately hits Susan on the crosswalk a few yards away from the bar. Paul understood the duty of care existed. Still, he breached his duty and operated an automobile while intoxicated. The breach of the duty of care makes Paul liable for damages suffered.
Determining fault can be tricky if Paul was not intoxicated and Susan was jaywalking when the accident occurred. Even though Paul could bear some responsibility, he is not 100% to blame for the pedestrian accident. A skilled car accident attorney can help with investigations to determine whether Paul breached his duty of care and whether Susan deserves compensation under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence laws.
As A Result Of the Breached Duty of Care, an Injury Occurred
The claimant in a pedestrian accident must have suffered damages to receive compensation. The damage can be an injury that is evident right after the accident or that develops shortly afterward. Because it is common for some injuries not to be apparent immediately, pedestrians involved in accidents must always seek medical checkups even if they feel fine.
If the injuries from a collision show signs and symptoms days after, your attorney can help you prove that an accident was responsible for the damages in question. With the help of medical experts, you can present official records that link your injuries to an accident. In return, you can seek compensation on the grounds that your injuries occurred due to the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
A skilled attorney can develop a winning legal strategy to help you pursue maximum compensation in a pedestrian accident. Establishing the link between the at-fault party’s actions and your injuries can be an uphill task, especially when you (the pedestrian) also bear a considerable percentage of the fault in causing an accident.
Whether your case seems straightforward or complex, a competent car accident attorney will ensure you have the best odds of proving the elements of a personal injury lawsuit and receiving the compensation needed to help you recover fully.
Common Types of Injuries Suffered During Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians face an increased risk of sustaining life-threatening injuries during an accident. While a car’s driver and occupants are protected by the vehicle’s body and other devices like seatbelts or airbags, pedestrians have little or no protection. They suffer injuries caused by direct impact with metals, shuttered glass, and even the tarmac.
Some of the most severe injuries sustained during pedestrian accidents include:
- Fractured bones (including broken ribs, legs, or arms)
- Traumatic brain injuries (can lead to mental and behavioral disorders, hearing issues, and vision problems)
- Spinal injuries (can limit movement and increase the risk of paralysis)
The above are merely the most severe injuries commonly sustained by pedestrian victims. These injuries cause immense pain and suffering and can impact a victim for months or years. Working with a seasoned attorney who can help you recover compensation to keep you going as you focus on regaining your health.
Damages Recoverable Following a Pedestrian Accident
Under modified comparative negligence rules, it is crucial to investigate the circumstances of an accident to establish whether the pedestrian and the driver share fault. Even if both parties file claims against each other, only one party can recover damages. As long as the pedestrian is not more than 50% to blame for the injuries, it is possible to receive compensation.
Pedestrians are vulnerable to suffering catastrophic injuries following an accident. Depending on the level of injuries, some victims must undergo multiple surgeries and months of physical therapy. It is also possible to suffer lost limbs or permanent scarring, which are all aspects that can make treatment lengthy and expensive.
You can recover compensation for the following damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
- Medical bills and cost of future treatment
- Expenses related to seeking treatment (ambulance costs or transport to and from hospital)
- Lost wages or future loss of earning ability
- Pain and suffering (both physical and psychological)
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Wrongful death (if the victim succumbs to injuries)
It is also possible to recover punitive damages. The compensation does not cover economic or non-economic damages but seeks to punish the defendant for their highly negligent conduct that shows a lack of regard for human life. Because claimants in personal injury cases do not have an absolute right to punitive damages, your best chance of receiving an award is to work with a highly skilled attorney.
Essential Steps to Take After a Pedestrian Accident
Gathering evidence right after a pedestrian accident is a matter of paramount importance. As aforementioned, the court relies on evidence to determine the at-fault party and assign the fault percentage.
Here are essential steps to take when possible:
Pedestrians are vulnerable to suffering grave injuries during pedestrian accidents. If you have suffered deep cuts, bone fractures, bruises, or other common injuries, it is crucial to call 9-1-1 immediately or ask someone to call the number for you.
If the accident only involved a “low impact fall,” this does not necessarily guarantee you are fine. It is still essential to check in with your doctor for a thorough examination. Sometimes, accident victims only develop the symptoms of back, neck, or head trauma hours or days after an accident. A checkup right after an accident can help ensure that delayed symptoms do not push an injury from bad to worse.
Gather As Much Information as Possible
Taking pictures and videos of the accident scene is always a good idea. Also, take photos of your injuries and the car that hit you. Other vital information you should gather includes:
- The name of the driver, their driver’s license, car registration number, and insurance information
- The names and contact details of all parties involved in an accident
- The names and contacts of any eyewitnesses
You must refrain from admitting fault or even apologizing for an accident. For instance, if you were distracted when crossing the road, it can be a little tempting to say that you are sorry, a little stressed and distracted. Unfortunately, other parties involved in the accident can use your words against you and limit your chances of receiving maximum compensation.
Call your Attorney
It is best to bring your attorney on board sooner than later. Attempting to deal with insurance companies in person is one of the surest ways to get a raw deal. A skilled personal injury lawyer will have what it takes to fiercely represent you during negotiations and ensure you are properly compensated.
The right time to file a personal injury lawsuit following a pedestrian accident is before the statute of limitations expires. Even if you find it safer first to seek treatment to establish the cost of medical care, always inform your attorney about your plans. The expert will be in the best position to evaluate the situation and dispense reliable legal guidance on the best way forward.
Find a Pedestrian Accident Attorney Near Me
Even as the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) continues to report escalating pedestrian accidents, the roads are still packed with drunk or distracted drivers. Unfortunately, even keen pedestrians cannot fully protect themselves from the risk of severe harm or death when using Nevada roads. If you have suffered injuries from a careless, reckless, or distracted driver, we urge you to contact the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm. Let us help you bring home compensation to help you seek proper treatment and lead a comfortable life as you recover. For more information about determining fault in pedestrian accidents, or to speak to an experienced attorney, call us at 702-576-0010.