Imagine walking across the street, assured you’re following all pedestrian rules, only to be suddenly struck by a car. Your life changes in an instant.
According to the CDC, an estimated 104,000 pedestrians were treated for injuries in the emergency department in the U.S. in 2021. This unsettling reality can be faced by anyone, and when it happens, it’s crucial to take the right legal steps. Unfortunately, many make avoidable mistakes in pedestrian accident lawsuits that can drastically affect the outcome.
What are these common missteps? More importantly, how can you prevent them? Buckle up, as this article will guide you through the top 16 mistakes and show you how to avoid them.
1) Not Seeking Immediate Medical Attention
In the aftermath of an accident, your adrenaline might make you feel okay. It’s a common but risky mistake. When a pedestrian accident happens, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention.
A personal accident injury might not be apparent right away. It can take hours, or even days, for the symptoms to surface. But not seeing a doctor immediately can harm your lawsuit.
Insurance companies might argue that your injuries aren’t from the accident or that they’re not severe since you didn’t seek immediate care.
Avoid this mistake by getting medical help right away, even if you think you’re fine. Doctors can document your injuries and their relation to the accident and provide crucial evidence for your case.
2) Not Documenting the Accident Properly
After an accident, your mind is likely racing. But this is a critical time for gathering evidence.
Many people fail to properly document the scene of their pedestrian accident. A lack of concrete evidence can weaken your case.
Collecting pedestrian accident lawsuit documents immediately after the accident is crucial. This includes:
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Witness testimonies
- Police reports
Remember, physical evidence at the scene can change quickly, and witness memories can fade.
Avoid this pitfall by documenting everything you can. If you’re not in a state to do so, ask someone at the scene to help. Or, hire a personal injury lawyer to gather the required evidence.
3) Delaying Legal Action
There’s a clock ticking after your accident, and it’s called the statute of limitations. This law sets a lawsuit filing deadline for personal injury cases. Missing this deadline can cost you your right to seek compensation entirely.
Many people delay legal action due to stress, medical treatment, or hope that the insurance company will provide a fair settlement. However, procrastination can lead to rushed decisions later, under the looming deadline.
Avoid this mistake by starting your lawsuit filing process as soon as possible. Consult with a lawyer who can guide you through the legal maze and ensure all necessary documents are submitted on time. Remember, justice delayed can be justice denied.
4) Talking to Insurance Companies Without Legal Representation
Following a pedestrian accident, you’re likely to hear from the other party’s insurance company. Here’s a pitfall that many stumble into: speaking to insurance adjusters without legal representation.
Insurance companies are businesses, and their primary goal is to minimize payout. They employ professionals trained to save them money. These adjusters may seem friendly, but their objective is to get information that could reduce your claim’s value or dismiss it altogether.
Avoid this mistake by seeking legal advice before making any statements. A lawyer can guide your interactions with insurance companies. They can help you avoid saying something that could be used against you.
5) Accepting the First Settlement Offer
When medical bills are piling up, and recovery seems far off, a settlement offer can seem like a lifeboat. But, this is where the next common mistake lies: accepting the first settlement offer from the insurance company.
That first offer is rarely the best offer. Insurance companies might low-ball you, hoping that you accept it out of desperation or ignorance. If you agree, you could lose out on much-needed compensation.
Protect yourself by not rushing into a settlement. Get an attorney who can assess the offer and negotiate for what you truly deserve. This patience could mean the difference between an underwhelming settlement and rightful compensation that covers all your needs.
6) Underestimating Future Medical Costs
After a pedestrian accident, it’s not just the immediate medical costs you should consider.
Accidents can lead to long-term health issues, some of which might not manifest until later. Physical therapy, medication, future surgeries, or even lifelong care may be necessary. Underestimating these costs could mean accepting a settlement that doesn’t cover your actual needs.
Avoid this by consulting with medical professionals to get a comprehensive view of your future health needs. An attorney can help incorporate these projections into your claim. They’ll ensure your settlement covers both present and future medical expenses.
7) Overlooking Mental and Emotional Damages
An accident’s impact isn’t just physical. It can leave emotional scars that last even longer than physical wounds. Yet many overlook this.
Accidents can cause significant emotional distress, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ignoring these effects can lead to an underestimate of the compensation you deserve. Plus, leaving these issues untreated can adversely affect your recovery and quality of life.
Prevent this error by considering the emotional toll of the accident. Seek professional help if you experience any emotional or mental distress post-accident. Your attorney should take into account these damages when negotiating your compensation.
8) Choosing the Wrong Attorney
Choosing the right attorney is like finding a trustworthy guide in unfamiliar terrain. Yet many victims make the eighth mistake: selecting the wrong legal representation.
Not all attorneys specialize in pedestrian accident cases. A lawyer unfamiliar with this area might miss critical aspects of your case. In addition, some attorneys might rush to settle your claim without fighting for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Don’t make this mistake. Choose an attorney with a solid track record in pedestrian accident cases. They should not only have expertise in this area but also have the patience, understanding, and dedication to fight for your rights.
Remember, the right legal ally can make a significant difference in the outcome of your lawsuit.
9) Misrepresenting the Facts of the Case
Honesty is the best policy, especially when it comes to a pedestrian accident lawsuit. However, many victims unknowingly step into our ninth mistake: misrepresenting the facts of their case.
Whether it’s a slight exaggeration of injuries or forgetting to mention pre-existing conditions, any discrepancy can severely hurt your case. Misrepresentation can give insurance companies and opposing lawyers ammunition to dispute your claim or even have it thrown out.
Avoid this mistake by being honest and thorough from the start. Communicate all details, no matter how minor they seem, to your attorney. They can help you present your case effectively without jeopardizing it with unintentional misrepresentation.
10) Not Understanding the Law and Your Rights
Lawsuits can be daunting, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the process and your rights. This leads to not understanding the law related to your pedestrian accident case and your rights as a victim.
The lawsuit filing process involves several steps, from collecting evidence to filing paperwork and beyond. It’s easy to overlook crucial elements if you’re not aware of what’s required. Similarly, ignorance of your rights could lead to accepting less than what you’re entitled to.
Prevent this mistake by educating yourself about the law and your rights. Reach out to a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the process.
11) Ignoring the Impact on Quality of Life
Life after a pedestrian accident can change dramatically. It can impact your ability to enjoy daily activities and hobbies. Yet, it’s common to overlook this.
Your accident could affect your capacity to:
- Perform certain tasks
- Pursue hobbies
- Maintain relationships
These non-economic damages, often termed “pain and suffering,” are harder to quantify but no less real.
Avoid this mistake by keeping a diary documenting your daily struggles and changes in your lifestyle post-accident. This evidence can contribute to the value of your claim. An experienced attorney can help quantify these damages and ensure they’re factored into your compensation.
12) Failing to Update Your Lawyer
Keeping your lawyer informed is crucial to your lawsuit’s success. Yet many victims don’t do this. Too many fail to update their lawyer with new information or changes in their condition.
Your lawyer is your advocate. They can only fight for you effectively when they have complete, up-to-date information about your case. According to an article source, this mistake has caused unforeseen issues in many lawsuits.
Avoid this mistake by maintaining regular communication with your attorney. Inform them promptly of any changes in:
- Your medical condition
- Additional expenses incurred
This constant update ensures your lawyer can adjust your claim appropriately and strategize for the best outcome.
13) Posting About Your Accident on Social Media
In our digitally connected world, sharing personal experiences on social media platforms is a common practice. But when it comes to your pedestrian accident lawsuit, this habit could lead to our next mistake: posting about your accident or injuries on social media.
Insurance companies and opposing lawyers may scrutinize your online activities. They’ll be on the lookout for inconsistencies in your story or evidence that you’re not as injured as you claim. A seemingly innocent post can potentially damage your case.
Avoid this mistake by staying silent about your accident and lawsuit on social media. Better yet, consider taking a break from these platforms until your case concludes. Your attorney can provide you with specific guidelines about what you should and shouldn’t post.
14) Failing to Consider All Possible Sources of Compensation
After a pedestrian accident, victims often focus solely on the driver’s insurance company for compensation. This myopia leads to the next mistake: failing to consider all possible sources of compensation.
There may be multiple parties who share the responsibility for your accident. For instance, a faulty traffic light or poorly maintained sidewalk could mean the city or county is partly responsible. Similarly, if the driver was working at the time of the accident, their employer might also be liable.
Avoid this mistake by identifying all potentially liable parties. A skilled attorney can:
- Thoroughly investigate your case
- Identify all possible defendants
- Pursue compensation from all sources
- Maximize your potential recovery
15) Failing to Document Everything
After a pedestrian accident, preserving evidence is essential. Yet, many victims don’t give it the importance it deserves, leading us to the next mistake: failing to document everything related to the accident.
From photographs of the accident scene to medical records and expenses, every piece of evidence can be crucial in building a strong case. Even seemingly insignificant details can help establish liability and the extent of your damages.
Avoid this mistake by documenting everything. Photograph your injuries, the accident site, and any vehicles involved. Keep a record of all your medical appointments, treatments, and costs.
Also, note down how the accident has impacted your day-to-day life. Your attorney can use these details to strengthen your claim.
16) Not Following Medical Advice
Medical treatments and recovery protocols are there for a reason. Yet, some accident victims don’t follow them.
If you don’t follow your doctor’s orders, it could give the impression that you’re not seriously injured. Or that you’re not committed to your recovery. This could potentially reduce your compensation.
Avoid this mistake by strictly following the treatment plan your doctor prescribes. If the treatment isn’t helping or if it’s causing additional issues, discuss this with your doctor. Definitely don’t stop treatment on your own.
Your medical records should show compliance with treatment. They are often crucial pieces of evidence in your pedestrian accident lawsuit.
Avoid Mistakes in Pedestrian Accident Lawsuits
In this maze of legalities and challenges, it’s easy to stumble. Avoiding these mistakes in pedestrian accident lawsuits can significantly increase your chances of receiving rightful compensation. With careful consideration and proper guidance, you can navigate this journey more confidently.
To read more about pedestrian accident cases and the intricacies involved, explore our blog.