Charlotte Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Anyone who has tried to navigate the streets of Charlotte on foot can attest to the risk of getting hit by a car when trying to cross the street, even in a marked crosswalk when there is a walk signal indicating it is safe to walk. Drivers commonly fail to yield the right of way and fail to stop before making a right on red, and due to the vulnerability of a walker, often, a pedestrian injury case can turn into a wrongful death case.
At Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers, our Charlotte pedestrian accident lawyers take legal action against negligent drivers for the personal injuries and wrongful death they cause. Partner Arlene Auger has been handling exclusively personal injury law for over 20 years. She has completed several marathons and logged thousands of miles on Charlotte roads; she is well aware that many drivers are distracted and fail to see, or look for, walkers or runners in the right of way.
“Unfortunately, the auto insurance industry is quick to blame pedestrians for these accidents. They know that if the pedestrian is only 1% at fault, they can deny their injury claim under NC law. If you have been hit by a car, truck, or bus, please call our office to speak with either myself or my partner for free legal advice before you call the insurance company,” said attorney Arlene Auger.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in Charlotte NC
Charlotte and its surrounding suburbs are not very walkable, leaving travel by motor vehicle as the primary means of transportation. Drivers always seem to rush to get to their destination, often seen weaving in and out of traffic and regularly running red lights, putting innocent pedestrians at risk.
Risky behavior is not limited to motorists. As a pedestrian, you have to follow traffic laws and also maintain a proper lookout. North Carolina General Statutes 20-174 states, “Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within a marked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.”
That section also prohibits pedestrians from crossing the street at any place except a marked crosswalk when walking between intersections in which there is a traffic-control signal present and in operation. However, even when you are disobeying a traffic law, you may still have a claim if you can prove that the motorist had the last clear chance to avoid hitting you after you put yourself in a dangerous position.
Additionally, the fact that pedestrians should yield the right-of-way outside of crosswalks does not necessarily mean that drivers are exempt from obeying traffic laws and driving carefully. In some cases, the pedestrian may not have a chance to yield if the motorist does something unexpected, like swerving into another lane.
Another frequent cause of pedestrian/car collisions is car trouble. Typically, a driver starts having difficulties, so they pull their vehicle over and get out to look under the hood. Or they may need to check on or change a flat tire. Unfortunately, they are harder to see and easier to hit once out of the car. We recommend getting out on the side of the vehicle that’s farther from the road, if at all possible. Always use your flashers to make your vehicle more visible from a distance. This allows drivers to slow down as they approach and move past you. It’s better to wait inside your vehicle if a tow truck or other help is coming, but if you have to wait outside, stand as far from the road as you can.
When walking on the side of the road, pedestrians must use sidewalks if available. On most city streets in Charlotte, this isn’t a problem. But once you get on the interstate or move into more rural areas outside the city limits, you may see fewer sidewalks. Where there isn’t one available, it’s recommended that you keep as much distance as possible between yourself and the road. Whether you’re on a sidewalk or the shoulder, always walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic to see vehicles coming.
However, there are some situations where pedestrians are hit despite not being in a roadway. Usually, these involve a car going off the road for some reason, like drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, etc. In most cases, these collisions are the driver’s fault. It’s very hard to claim that the pedestrian failed to yield the right of way when they weren’t even on the road.
Visibility is Key
One of the best things you can do if you like to walk or run near a roadway is invest in reflective or brightly colored clothes. If you don’t want to buy a whole new wardrobe, some sporting goods stores sell reflective patches that can be sewn onto any item. This is especially important if you go out at night or around sunrise or sunset.
What Types of Damages Can Your Charlotte Pedestrian Accident Attorney Help You Win?
If you can demonstrate that the driver was at fault and you did not contribute to the accident, there are multiple damages you can seek compensation for:
- Medical bills. These can be extensive in pedestrian accidents because, unfortunately, the victim often suffers severe injuries. Being hit with a two-ton piece of metal can do a lot of damage, even at low speeds. Frequently we meet clients with injuries such as broken bones, head injuries like concussions or traumatic brain injury (TBI), internal injuries, dislocated joints, back or neck injuries, and other painful issues. Even with a robust health insurance policy, pedestrians may find they’re facing multiple copays, deductibles, and procedures or treatments the health insurance carrier deemed “unnecessary.”
- Even more medical costs. Beyond the initial hospitalization and treatment, people who have suffered pedestrian injuries may need continued care as an outpatient for several months or more. This could include follow-up visits with doctors, physical or occupational therapy, treatment for chronic pain, visits with specialists, etc. You may also need to spend money on mobility aids, like crutches or a wheelchair, or even make modifications to your home to improve accessibility as you recover, like installing handholds in your shower. All of these are additional medical expenses for which you deserve compensation.
- Future medical bills. Typically, we negotiate a final amount with the at-fault party’s insurance company when the client’s treatment is concluded, ensuring that all expenses are accounted for, and nothing is missed. However, in some situations where the pedestrian has suffered a serious and permanent injury, they may need continued care for the rest of their life. If your doctor believes you’ve improved as much as possible, but you’re still having difficulties that will require treatment, we will consider this in estimating your damages.
- Compensation for permanent disability or scarring. Aside from the costs of future doctor visits or medication refills, you can also seek compensation for the permanent injury. If you can no longer work or do things you enjoy, that’s another damage that you’ve suffered. One example is head injuries. Many people do recover fully from a concussion or TBI. But in some cases, a patient may have permanent difficulties, even with treatment and supportive therapies. These permanent issues can range from memory problems to difficulty with everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, or balancing a checkbook.
- Lost income. There are two different possibilities here. If you were injured, recovered, and were able to return to work, you may seek compensation for your lost time on the job. This is true even if you could use sick days or other paid time off because those are paid days off you can no longer use. If you were injured and developed a permanent disability or chronic pain issue that prevents you from returning to work at all, or at least from returning full-time, then you may have damages in the form of lost earning potential. This may also be true if you returned to work but had to take a less physically demanding job that doesn’t pay as well.
- Pain and suffering. Again, the injuries we usually see in pedestrian accidents are often very painful. Even with pain medication, you may be feeling bad for days or weeks after your accident – and pain and suffering aren’t just about physical injuries. The trauma of being hit by a car can also cause real psychological damage. Many people report they have nightmares, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, or symptoms of PTSD following their accident. If you’re struggling with these issues, please don’t hesitate to speak with a mental health expert who can help you work through them.
- Property damage. This is more common in collisions where the victim has had damage to their vehicle, but in some cases, pedestrians may be carrying property like a laptop or phone is damaged in the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. If you can’t take part in activities you enjoy, you may have a claim for loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium and companionship. If you’ve lost a loved one in a pedestrian crash, you have suffered damages in several ways – losing the care and support typically provided by a relationship, as well as potentially losing financial support for you and your family. In this case, your attorney can walk you through the various damages that may be present in a wrongful death case.
The Complications Of Recovering Damages in a Pedestrian Accident
Because so many people involved in pedestrian accidents suffer multiple serious injuries, we often need to make multiple claims to fully recover all or most of their potential damages. In general, a typical accident case begins with making a claim on the at-fault party’s insurance. However, many drivers only carry the state minimum of $30,000 in liability coverage. That means that no matter how much your medical bills are, the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you more than $30,000 (even if they accept their client was 100 percent at fault). What are you supposed to do if you have $100,000 in damages?
There are several options in this kind of situation:
- Sue the at-fault driver directly. This is a good option if the driver has a reasonable amount of assets we could acquire in a recovery. However, if they’re broke and can’t pay a judgment against them, then suing will not help you cover your bills.
- Make a claim on other insurance policies. Many clients are surprised to learn that their uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance actually works on pedestrian accidents as well. Often people think it only applies if they are driving their insured car at the time of the accident, but this isn’t true. If you have this type of coverage, you can collect additional damages after the at-fault party’s insurance carrier has paid their policy limit for your pedestrian accident.
- Consider other at-fault parties. In some situations, you may have a claim against a third-party who also contributed to the accident, such as a manufacturer of faulty brakes in a car that hit you.
Recovering Damages from Negligent Drivers
Our attorneys are experienced in obtaining compensation for pedestrians that are injured by negligent drivers, and have been handling exclusively personal injury cases for over 20 years. We will investigate the facts surrounding your accident and prove why the motorist was responsible for your injuries. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Time is of the essence. Many intersections and businesses maintain surveillance cameras but the data from these devices is only held for a short period of time. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, let our experience work for you. Call Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers at 855-969-5671.