Pedestrian accidents have been on the rise all across the country in recent years, according to reports from the Governors Highway Safety Administration. Sadly, pedestrian accidents are far from uncommon on Pennsylvania's roadways. Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation indicate more than 4,000 pedestrian accidents happened in our state in 2017 alone, resulting in 150 fatalities.
Pedestrians seriously injured in accidents may be entitled to compensation from a negligent driver or another at-fault party. However, compensation is never guaranteed, and one the easiest ways for accident victims to jeopardize their financial recovery is to fall for myths that can damage their cases and cost them money.
If you were hurt in a Pennsylvania pedestrian accident, don't let these harmful assumptions stand between you and the compensation you need and deserve.
Myth: Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way
People often assume that pedestrian accident cases are all cut and dry, with the driver of the vehicle at fault in each and every instance. This is a pervasive—and extremely harmful—falsehood. Just as motorists are expected to obey the rules of the road, pedestrians are also responsible for understanding right-of-way. As a result, pedestrians who cross the road illegally or dart into traffic may be found partially at fault for the accident and their injuries.
Being partially at fault for an accident doesn't necessarily prevent injured pedestrians from collecting compensation. Pennsylvania follows comparative fault rules, which means it's still possible for pedestrian accident victims to seek and collect damages, as long as they're less at fault than the defendant. However, in some cases, victims' recoveries may be reduced to reflect their liability.
Myth: Only High-Speed Accidents Cause Serious or Disabling Injuries
While accidents involving high speeds can result in catastrophic injuries, even those that happen at relatively slow speeds can cause lasting health problems. Back-over, run-over and dragging accidents are perfect examples; though they often happen at slower speeds, they often result in devastating, disabling, or even deadly injuries, particularly in cases involving young children or senior citizens.
Myth: Pedestrians Can Only Collect Damages If They Were Actually Struck by a Vehicle
Though many pedestrian accidents actually involve collisions between a pedestrian and a vehicle, not all do. This isn't necessarily a prerequisite for obtaining damages. If a motorist's reckless behavior forces a pedestrian to take evasive action that results in injury, the pedestrian may still have grounds for a personal injury claim.
Myth: Pedestrian Accident Victims Have Plenty of Time to Take Legal Action
This is one of the most insidious pedestrian accident myths in circulation, as it takes advantage of the fact that the days, weeks, and months following a serious accident are often a whirlwind of doctors' appointments and medical treatments. Though it's perfectly normal to want to pause and take a breath before pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, time to pursue a legal remedy is limited. In Pennsylvania, pedestrian accident victims have just two years from the date of the incident to file their lawsuits.
Two years may sound like a long time, but when victims are caught up with medical-related issues, it can pass in what seems like an instant. In addition, the longer victims wait to take legal action, the greater the chances that available evidence could be compromised or lost.
Myth: Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer Is Too Expensive
Financial woes shouldn't prevent an accident victim from being able to pursue the justice they deserve. Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and, instead of requiring payment for their services upfront, are paid a percentage of the financial award the plaintiff receives when—and if—the case is resolved in their favor. Additionally, many personal injury firms offer free initial consultations so that prospective clients can ask questions about their cases, the legal process, fee agreements, and other factors.
Consult a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney
Hurt in a Pennsylvania pedestrian accident? Contact the Accident and Injury Law Group today to request a free initial case consultation.