Pedestrian accidents occur when cars, bicycles, or motorbikes hit individuals walking on the sidewalks or crossing roads. If you are lucky to survive the accident, you obtain severe injuries that affect you mentally and psychologically. Besides, you must seek compensation for the harm and damage stemming from the collision.
Insurance companies will not hesitate to contact you after the crash to take your statement and offer a settlement. Nonetheless, the payment is usually lower than you are entitled to, explaining the rush by the insurer to settle. To protect yourself from these tricks and navigate the lengthy negotiations with an at-fault party’s insurer, you must lawyer up. At the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we understand all the discussion requirements and will compile all the evidence necessary to counter the insurance adjuster’s assertions.
Nature and Causes of Nevada Pedestrian Knockdowns
Walking in Nevada is extremely dangerous. The state is ranked the seventh most deadly for pedestrians nationwide, with a rate of 1.36 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents within the first half of 2019. The crashes are often severe because, as a pedestrian, you lack a shield from heavy cars or road surfaces. When you survive the knockdown, you sustain life-altering injuries.
After a pedestrian knockdown, move to a safe location and call 911. Although you should gather evidence to help with your claim, your focus should be on receiving treatment and recovery. Again, you should ensure the other party remains at the scene and call the police for investigations. The report from the officers will be a critical part of the evidence you need to seek compensation.
When injured in a pedestrian knockdown, whether you or the driver is liable, you are entitled to compensation. However, your portion of the blame for the crash should be less than that of the driver.
The first step to obtaining compensation from the liable party’s insurer is understanding the type and cause of the accident. By establishing the cause of the knockdown, you can identify those responsible and have evidence to back your claim. The common causes of pedestrian knockdowns are:
1. Drunk or Drugged Driving
Intoxicated drivers cause most pedestrian knockdowns or accidents. When motorists operate cars under the influence, they lack the mental and physical capabilities to drive safely, hitting pedestrians. Drugs or alcohol impairs one's vision and causes a slow response. If you happen to be crossing the road with an oncoming drunk driver, they will not see you on time, and their slow auto-response could make you a victim of an auto accident with severe injuries. Typically, drunk driving is noticed when the police arrive at the scene when investigations indicate in the report that the driver was under the influence.
2. Over Speeding
Another cause of pedestrian knockdowns is speeding on busy highways where you and other pedestrians use the sidewalks or cross the road. The problem with speeding is that it is easy for the driver to lose control of the vehicle during an emergency, primarily when they try braking.
Similarly, speeding elevates the risk of multiple collisions and domino effects where vehicles roll and collide with pedestrians on the sidewalks. It is challenging to claim compensation where numerous vehicles are involved because of the several claims and different witness statements. However, hiring the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm will improve the chances of reasonable reimbursement.
3. Disregard Traffic Signals
Ignoring traffic signs is another reason for the high number of traffic knockdowns in Las Vegas. All road users have to obey the right of way. When a driver disregards the traffic lights by failing to stop when pedestrians are crossing, the chances of pedestrian knockdowns are high. If a driver hits you at a crossing and there is evidence that they ignored traffic lights, you should make an insurance claim against them.
We encourage you to contact your injury attorney immediately after the crash before meeting with the insurance adjuster. An experienced attorney will listen to your side of the story regarding the accident and pick up facts that could help demonstrate the driver’s conduct moments before the accident. This will help show the driver was at fault, giving you an upper hand in the negotiations.
4. Distracted Driving
Additionally, distracted driving can lead to pedestrian collisions. A driver’s mental or physical attention on a busy highway can be taken off the road by distractors like texting, eating, or calling while driving. Pedestrian collisions are inevitable whenever a driver takes their eyes off the highway. If a distracted driver hits you or another pedestrian walking on the sidewalk, you are entitled to compensation. Nonetheless, the compensation process is not an easy one. Several distractors could have taken the physical or mental attention of the driver off the road, and you must identify them. When a collision occurs because the driver was texting, you must present evidence to back the argument to obtain compensation.
The Role of Insurance Companies in a Pedestrian Knockdown
Every motorist in Nevada must have general liability insurance coverage. Coverage is necessary to ensure car accident victims obtain compensation for harm. The insurance policy states that the insurer must defend the policyholder if a plaintiff brings a claim. You can pursue compensation for a driver if you demonstrate that they are liable for your injuries.
However, after bringing a claim, you will not be dealing with the liable driver directly but with their policy carrier because they are the ones to pay for the damages. An adjuster will be assigned the case and make the defendant's decisions.
After a pedestrian knockdown, the liable party’s insurer will reach out immediately. They will make an offer and convince you that it is either the settlement or nothing.
Also, the adjuster will attempt to disregard the facts you have to back the claim or counter it. Others will try to shift the blame for the accident to others just to force you into accepting their offer. Even after settling, they will delay the payment to frustrate you and cause you to abandon your claim entirely. Luckily, when you hire an attorney, the adjuster will be more willing to play ball and will not use their tricks to lower, delay or deny compensation.
Before you obtain compensation, you must present evidence to show that the insurance company’s client was at fault. Afterwards, they will employ various protocols or strategies to counter your claim.
Strategies Employed by Insurance Companies to Defend Against your Claim
Legal representation is critical in pedestrian knockdown claims because insurers employ many tactics to deny claims. An injury attorney will help you anticipate these strategies during negotiations to secure maximum reimbursement. The standard tactics insurers use are:
Asking for a Recorded Statement
One common standard by policy carriers is requesting a copy of the police report and using it to their advantage. After a knockdown by a vehicle or motorcycle, a police officer is likely to visit the scene to investigate. Once investigations are complete, they give their perspective of the crash in an official statement called the police report.
Additionally, the statement contains all the accident details, including witness statements on the events leading to the collision, their contact information, your perspective, photos, and videos of the accident scene. Besides, the report highlights your actions after the accident if you were not severely injured. All this information is a critical part of your evidence. Therefore, remember to collect a copy of the report from the investigating traffic officer to have an advantage while meeting the insurance adjuster.
Insurance companies are not in business to help you but for profits. Therefore, they will try all tricks to deny your claim or offer an unfair settlement. One standard trick is to request a copy of the report for evaluation. They then highlight a single event where you are at fault moments before or after the accident to prove you are to blame for your injuries, enabling them to counter your claim or deny benefits.
Nevertheless, when you have an experienced attorney by your side, these tricks will not work. Your injury attorney will safeguard the police report and ensure it is not misused to the insurer’s advantage. Before meeting the adjuster, arrange a meeting with your injury attorney to review the police report and point out information the insurer could misuse to their advantage and significantly reduce the payment you are entitled to. When you do due diligence, you will evade these traps and obtain maximum compensation.
Also, it will be safer to have your attorney present when meeting with the adjuster or have them show up for the negotiations on your behalf to give you time to focus on healing. With your law expert present, the adjuster will play ball and offer a fair settlement.
Lastly, because of the shock stemming from the crash, you have a right to postpone your meeting with the insurance representative. If you lack attorney guidance, reschedule the appointment for another day.
Shift Blame From Their Client or Motorist
Another common tactic by insurers is shifting blame from the at-fault party, their client, to you, the plaintiff. Nevada adopts the comparative negligence doctrine where you can obtain compensation if you are less than 50% liable for your injuries. Nevertheless, the damages will be less than when you are not liable for the collision. If you are 10% responsible for the accident, your damages will be lowered by the percentage of fault apportioned. And if you are more than 51% liable for the collision, you are not entitled to reimbursement.
Sometimes you could be responsible for a pedestrian knockdown because you were drunk or distracted while walking on a sidewalk or crossing the road. When the police report, video surveillance footage, eyewitnesses, or phone records show you were negligent before the knockdown, the insurance adjuster will apportion your liability, reducing your damages by your apportionment. And if more than half of the blame for the accidents is on your side, the tables will turn. Instead of receiving compensation, you will be the defendant.
Your injury attorney will strive to ensure you do not admit fault and, if you were to blame, negotiate to reduce your percentage of fault. A legal expert will ensure you do not side with the adjuster or concede to being at fault to protect you from relinquishing your right to seek compensation.
Challenging Injury Severity
The insurer aims to offer minimum or zero compensation for your injuries. And when you table solid evidence to prove their client is liable for your damages, they will find defense strategies to counter your claim. A standard tactic they employ to weaken your claim is poking holes into the severity of your injuries. Raising issues regarding your injuries is a trick aimed at lowering your payment or sticking within the compensation limit set by the employer.
You must be aware or ready for these attempts to reduce your compensation by making arguments that downplay your injury severity. The insurance representative or adjuster will argue that the pedestrian collision was low-impact and, therefore, you could not have sustained severe injuries from the same. YOU should not discourage from seeking your rightful damages for all the injuries obtained when they diminish or challenge the severity of the harm.
Similarly, you must seek medical examination immediately after the crash. If you go for treatment a day after the accident, the insurer will argue that your injuries stemmed from something other than the knockdown. They will challenge the injuries by claiming that if at all they were related to the crash, you could have sought treatment earlier.
Your injury attorney will help you seek treatment on time with doctors within their network. These doctors have been preparing medical reports for injury claims and will conduct an intensive medical examination of your injuries for a detailed medical statement. Further, they will highlight the care you require after the injury, if any, denying the adjuster the chance to diminish the injuries.
Again, the insurer can challenge the severity of your injuries by citing the nature of the collision. They will argue that their client was driving at low speed when the accident occurred, and the injuries sustained are minor. However, their argument is hinged on your physical state when meeting the insurance representative.
Do not discuss your injuries with the insurance adjuster when they call you immediately after the accident. It is a common strategy they apply to lower damages. After the crash, you will feel shaken, and the shock could prevent you from noticing your injuries, especially internal injuries. These injuries are noticeable after a medical checkup, and if you have not undergone one, it is difficult to know the extent of the harm. So, do not discuss your injuries with the adjuster after they call you because you are unsure. When you diminish the damages over the phone, but after a medical checkup, they turn out to be extensive, the insurer can refer to your statement to challenge the medical report to lower your damages.
Withholding Compensatory Damages
Even after you have won a settlement, some insurance companies will not release it immediately. They use the delay technique to cut costs. A delay in payment, especially for medical bills, can have severe consequences because you must pay out-of-pocket. It is precisely what the insurer wants. You pay for treatment using your money just to reimburse you later. It seems fair, but the truth is that when it comes to reimbursement for the money you used for treatment, they will reduce the amount agreed upon initially because they have the upper hand. Do not fall for this trick. Insist on receiving the compensation upfront to avoid spending your money.
Also, when you wait long without a settlement, you will grow desperate and lower your demands, agreeing to a lower settlement than initially approved. If you are desperate enough, even if the payment is reduced, you will be okay with it instead of dealing with the uncertainty of waiting longer when you desperately need the money.
Luckily, with the help of your attorney, you will be comfortable during delays and willing to wait longer for total compensation. An excellent attorney will arrange with medical professionals to offer treatment and receive payment after settling the claim. You will not drain your finances by paying for medical care because the hospital bill can wait longer. Your finances will remain intact, enabling you to financially support yourself or your family before the insurer releases the payment.
Furthermore, your law expert will be in your corner when the insurance company pressures you to lower your demands, meaning you will not succumb to the pressure and agree to reduce compensation.
Challenging Their Client’s Fault
The liable party’s insurer will not relent in their efforts to blame you for the accident and ensuing injuries. If they insist you were at fault for the pedestrian knockdown injuries, you should turn to your attorney for the defense. Your injury attorney must prove that the driver acted negligently and their actions or inactions led to the crash. When you demonstrate these elements with a preponderance of the evidence, the defense attorney will find it an uphill task to counter the arguments and avoid responsibility for the harm or property damage.
Negligence is not the only grounds to bring a lawsuit. You can use grounds like wrongful death, strict product liability, negligence per se, or respondeat superior depending on the defendant. Defendants in pedestrian accidents include:
- The company that owns the vehicle in question
- State or federal government agency charged with construction and maintenance of the road
- Car or auto part makers
Dealing with the insurance policy carrier of any of these defendants is the best way to seek compensation. However, the strategies these companies employ will make it difficult to seek compensation. You need an injury attorney for support and guidance when you encounter obstacles.
Bring a Pedestrian Accident Claim Against an Insurance Company
The process of bringing a claim against the liable party’s insurer is not easy. You should discuss the case with your injury attorney to find the right words. Once the discussion is over, you can contact the company over the phone or online. If the pedestrian knockdown involved another car, you must have the insurer's name, driver’s license number, and policy number. Sometimes the Vehicle Identification Number will be necessary. Do not let the parties involved in the collision flee the scene without this information because it will be challenging to track them down if you decide to pursue compensation in the future.
An insurance adjuster is assigned the case to make decisions on behalf of the defendant. You should contact your Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm immediately to avoid falling victim to tricks used by adjusters to lower or deny damages.
Your attorney will notify the insurer of your intention to claim via a notification letter. Once the letter is received, they will file another one to inform you that they do not deny the claim.
The next step involves the attorney investigating the case to establish the person at fault and the damages available if you sue for compensation. The attorney then uses this info to file a demand letter highlighting the losses suffered and the compensation you deserve.
Once the liable individual’s insurer receives the letter, they can accept or deny it. And because they will not take your demands at first, the claim will enter the negotiation stage, which lasts for a few months before a settlement. Your attorney will consult and update you during negotiations until an agreement is reached. If the negotiations are futile, you can then proceed to court.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
You deserve compensation after you have been in a pedestrian accident. Nonetheless, the liable person’s insurer will not be quick to pay the compensation you need. They will challenge the claim to deny or reduce your reimbursement using several strategies. At the Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm, we know the tricks used by these companies, denying them an advantage in negotiations. Reach out to us today at 702-576-0010 for a free consultation.