Damages Available in a Pedestrian Accident Lawsuit

Pedestrian accidents frequently result in severe injuries or death to the victims, especially elderly adults and small children. When these types of traffic accidents are caused by a driver’s careless or reckless actions, victims can file a pedestrian accident lawsuit against the driver to recover compensation for their damages.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Being hit by a moving vehicle while walking or crossing the street in Chicago can alter the course of a pedestrian’s life. Many factors contribute to pedestrian accidents and injuries, but the most common causes include careless or negligent actions on the part of the driver and errors or lack of attention on the part of the pedestrian. Common causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Driver Negligence – As one of the leading causes of pedestrian accidents, driver negligence includes distracted driving, ignoring traffic signals, and driving over the speed limit.
  • Drunk Driving – Drunk driving or impaired driving caused by drugs and medications alters a driver’s senses of sight and sound and slows down reaction times needed to slow down or stop. 
  • Reckless Driving – Drivers who take risks on the road often speed, run through stop signs and red lights, change lanes abruptly, and tailgate.
  • Pedestrian Errors – Pedestrian injuries and deaths often result from pedestrian errors and lack of attention, like ignoring traffic signals and avoiding designated crosswalks.
  • Poor Road Conditions – Bad weather contributes to hazardous driving conditions, slick, icy roads, and potholes, all common causes of a pedestrian accident lawsuit in Chicago.

Common Injuries in Pedestrian Accidents

When a moving vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the result is often severe personal injury or death. A pedestrian who is standing on the sidewalk or crossing the street is no match for a speeding car. According to the AAA Foundation, the pedestrian death rate rises with the speed of the vehicle at impact. Older victims and small children have a greater risk of dying as a result of the crash.

Traffic studies show that the average risk of death for a pedestrian is 10% at an impact speed of 23 mph, but rises significantly with speed. The risk of death jumps to 25% at 32 mph, 50% at 42 mph, 75% at 50 mph, and 90% at 58 mph. Pedestrians who actually survive a crash face major lifestyle changes caused by long-term or permanent injuries or disabilities. Common injuries in pedestrian accidents include:

  • Amputations of limbs
  • Internal bleeding or organ damage
  • Loss of function in a body part or limb
  • Physical disfigurement or scarring
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

When severe pedestrian injuries occur, it’s rarely only the victim who suffers the aftermath. The victim’s family members and bystanders who witness the accident are often traumatized, and even the driver who caused the accident may pay a heavy emotional price in a pedestrian accident case. Following any pedestrian accident, especially one that causes death, it’s normal for the victim or the victim’s family to seek legal help from an auto accident lawyer who can recover damages through a pedestrian accident lawsuit. It’s also typical for witnesses of such a traumatic accident to seek emotional help through a psychologist, who provides emotional therapy and counseling.

What to Do After a Chicago Pedestrian Accident

If you suffer pedestrian injuries in Chicago caused by a motor vehicle accident, it’s important to seek medical attention right away and talk to an injury attorney who has experience in pedestrian injury cases. Car accident cases that involve pedestrian injuries are usually complicated. An attorney who is familiar with Illinois laws that relate to both vehicle drivers and pedestrians can be an invaluable resource.

As the victim of a pedestrian accident, knowing what you should do after a car hits you can save your life. Whether you have minor cuts and bruises or more serious injuries, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. You may think your injuries are not severe enough to warrant medical care. However, even if you only see evidence of physical injuries like cuts and bruises, you may have serious internal injuries that are not visible. First and foremost, focus on getting medical attention to treat visible injuries and a screening for internal injuries that may cause life-threatening conditions.

If your injuries are not severe, you can wait for the police to arrive to complete an accident report, but make sure you get a copy for your records. In Illinois, you’re required to file an accident report with the Illinois Department of Transportation within 10 days after an accident. The driver that hit you is required to file a police report within 10 days of the incident if the accident results in injury, death, or over $1,500 in property damage.

After seeking medical attention for your injuries, you should contact a Chicago injury lawyer about filing a pedestrian accident lawsuit and getting compensation for your injuries. Whether you have visible cuts and bruises or more serious unseen internal injuries, a personal injury lawyer can help you get fair compensation to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages for careless or reckless actions on the part of the driver who hit you.

Damages Available for Pedestrian Car Accident Victims 

After a pedestrian accident, the law provides three types of damages for the accident victim: Economic Damages, Non-Economic Damages, and Punitive Damages. There are major differences between the three, and the value of each will impact the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are those that can be measured or calculated in monetary terms. This is often done with medical bills, receipts for prescriptions and medical aids, pay stubs from employment, and any other expenses that can be tracked. Economic damages awarded to pedestrian accident victims include:

  • Expenses for emergency medical care (at the scene and/or at the hospital)
  • Expenses for surgical procedures or intensive care
  • Expenses for physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Expenses for psychological treatments and therapy
  • Lost wages for time away from work
  • Lost future wages and earning capacity caused by long-term injuries

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are those that can’t be calculated by physical evidence. These damages include the victim’s current pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and any other emotional injuries. Non-economic damages are often calculated using the multiplier method, based on the idea that non-economic damages should be proportional to economic damages. Through this method, economic damages are multiplied by a number, typically between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injury and the impact it has on the victim’s life.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded to pedestrian accident victims when the driver’s conduct is proven to be careless, reckless, or negligent. These damages require admissible evidence of the driver’s egregious actions and disregard for injuries to the pedestrian. They are not awarded in every pedestrian accident lawsuit.

Average Compensation for Being Hit by a Car

Compensation awarded to pedestrian accident victims will vary depending on the severity of the injuries and whether the case goes to civil court or is settled out of court, which is common. If a pedestrian accident lawsuit is filed and the case proceeds to civil court, a personal injury lawyer must prove that the driver who hit the pedestrian was negligent. This means that the driver failed to use reasonable care to avoid hitting the pedestrian. Factors that prove guilt may include speeding, distracted driving, drunk or impaired driving, reckless driving, and failure to stop or yield at a crosswalk.

Based on accident studies, the average cost of a pedestrian accident that requires medical attention is $14,000 compared to the average cost for a car accident, which is $8,500. The difference is attributed to higher costs for emergency medical services and surgical procedures due to internal injuries and head trauma. If the pedestrian suffers a broken leg, his or her medical bills may land in the 5 figure range. However, if the pedestrian suffers a traumatic brain injury, medical bills can rise to 6 figures.

Many pedestrian accidents are settled out of court between the victim’s injury lawyer and the guilty party’s lawyer or insurance company. The typical pedestrian settlement can range from $5,000 to $500,000, depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries and the driver’s actions at the time of the accident. If the accident was caused by negligent or reckless actions on the part of the driver, the payout will be significantly higher. If the pedestrian dies as a result of the accident, the victim’s family may receive a wrongful death settlement in compliance with the insurance company.