California is a notoriously dangerous place for drivers, with some of the highest accident rates in the country, but it is also hazardous for pedestrians. If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries while walking because of the negligence of a motor vehicle driver, you may have grounds to file a pedestrian accident claim against them to recover your losses. A Rocklin pedestrian accident attorney can guide you through the legal process of securing compensation for your damages with confidence.
At the Kreeger Law Firm, our team has years of experience handling complex personal injury claims, including pedestrian accident claims involving substantial damages. As your Rocklin pedestrian accident attorney, Chris Kreeger and the team at the Kreeger Law Firm will guide you through your proceedings. They will help you secure the compensation you require after a pedestrian accident has left you injured, unable to work, and uncertain about your financial future.
Why Do I Need a Rocklin Pedestrian Accident Attorney?
Do not make the mistake of believing that your claim is so straightforward that you can handle it yourself, especially while you are recovering from serious injuries. Filing a personal injury claim is more complex than most people realize. Without any formal legal training or experience, a personal injury claimant will likely unintentionally jeopardize their own claim due to the strict procedural requirements of the California civil court system.
Instead of trying to manage your legal affairs while dealing with painful injuries, trust an experienced Rocklin pedestrian accident attorney to guide you through your claim with confidence. Your attorney can manage your legal concerns on your behalf and ultimately provide you with the best chance of securing maximum compensation for your injuries while you focus on your recovery. Your Rocklin pedestrian accident attorney will handle all your court filings, ensure you meet all required deadlines, and help you prepare for each phase of your case as it unfolds.
How Pedestrian Accidents Happen
California is home to some of the busiest metropolitan areas in the United States. Wherever there is a lot of traffic, there is always a higher chance for accidents to occur. In urban areas, accidents involving pedestrians are likely when drivers fail to pay adequate attention to the road, commit moving violations, or engage in other negligent behaviors behind the wheel. Some of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents include:
- Distracted driving. Distraction is the leading cause of all vehicle accidents. When a driver takes their attention away from the road, even for a few seconds, this can be more than enough time for traffic conditions to change enough for an accident to occur. Using a cell phone behind the wheel, “rubbernecking” to look out of the car window, or talking with a passenger are typical examples of distractions that can easily cause pedestrian accidents.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. Drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles responsibly, and driving while intoxicated is illegal in every state. A driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs will have diminished reaction time and judgment, making it more likely that they will hit a pedestrian. Drivers who hit pedestrians because of intoxication behind the wheel are likely to face criminal prosecution for aggravated DUI or even vehicular manslaughter if a victim dies from their injuries.
- Moving violations, including speeding, illegal U-turns, lane changes without signaling, and running stop signs and red lights, can easily cause pedestrian accidents. Drivers must abide by posted traffic signals and signs to avoid these accidents.
These are only a few examples of how pedestrian accidents can happen. All drivers must exercise caution when driving near pedestrians to avoid these incidents.
Pure Comparative Negligence in California Pedestrian Accident Claims
California enforces a pure comparative negligence statute that allows plaintiffs to recover compensation even when they are partially at fault for causing their damages. Some pedestrian accidents occur because of jaywalking or crossing a street outside of a designated crosswalk. If a pedestrian does this and suffers injuries, they will likely incur partial liability for the incident. However, state law upholds that drivers have a higher duty of care than pedestrians, so drivers who hit a pedestrian will still absorb most of the fault for a pedestrian accident.
When a judge determines that comparative negligence applies in a pedestrian accident claim, the judge assigns fault percentages to the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff will lose a portion of their total case award equal to their fault percentage. For example, if a plaintiff claims $50,000 in damages, but a judge determines they are 20% at fault for causing those damages, they will lose 20% or $10,000 of their case award and receive only $40,000 instead. There is no upper limit for fault percentage to bar plaintiff recovery in California, so theoretically, a plaintiff would still be legally entitled to compensation even if they were 99% at fault for causing their damages.
To succeed with a pedestrian accident claim, the plaintiff and their attorney must prove that the defendant owed a certain duty of care in the situation in question, failed to uphold this duty in some way, and directly caused the plaintiff’s claimed damages. The plaintiff must also provide a complete and accurate accounting of all the damages resulting from the accident.
Potential Recovery From a Pedestrian Accident Claim
Pedestrians struck by cars often experience severe injuries, some of which may cause permanent damage or prevent them from working in the future. Personal injury law in California allows an injured plaintiff to claim several types of compensatory damages in a pedestrian accident lawsuit, including:
- Medical expenses. A plaintiff may not only claim the medical expenses incurred immediately after an accident, such as emergency room bills and ambulance fees, but also long-term medical expenses that resulted from their accidents, such as extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Lost wages. A plaintiff may be unable to work while they recover from their pedestrian accident injuries, and they have the right to claim the income lost during this time in their pedestrian accident claim. Additionally, a plaintiff has the right to claim lost future earning capacity if their injuries are severe enough to prevent them from returning to work in the future.
- Property damage. If a pedestrian accident resulted in damage to the plaintiff’s personal property, they could claim repair or replacement costs in their civil action.
In addition to these compensatory damages, a plaintiff can also recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering. While it may sound challenging to assign monetary values to abstract concepts like physical pain and psychological suffering, there are several possible ways for a Rocklin pedestrian accident attorney to calculate a reasonable amount of pain and suffering damages for a pedestrian accident claim.
In some cases, such as those involving injuries that will heal relatively soon, a “per diem” pain and suffering compensation formula could come into play. This method seeks a set amount of compensation each day until the plaintiff reaches maximum medical improvement. It is also possible to secure pain and suffering compensation in a lump sum. The attorney will multiply their client’s claimed medical expenses by a certain factor, usually between two and five, depending on the severity of their client’s injuries. For example, if a plaintiff incurred $100,000 in medical expenses for injuries that caused severe pain for an extended time and they are likely to experience long-term medical complications from their injuries, their attorney may seek $200,000 or $300,000 in pain and suffering compensation to reflect the severity of their injuries.
It is also possible for a plaintiff in a pedestrian accident claim to recover additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. A judge awards punitive damages to punish the defendant’s bad behavior, not necessarily to compensate any particular loss of the plaintiff’s. The amount awarded in punitive damages depends on the defendant’s financial status and the severity of their behavior. If the defendant injured the plaintiff due to a criminal action, such as fleeing from police, driving under the influence, or intentionally hitting the pedestrian, they would likely face restitution as a term of their sentencing in criminal court.
Understand the Value of Legal Representation
Navigating a pedestrian accident claim is much easier when you have a reliable and experienced Rocklin pedestrian accident lawyer on your side. The right attorney will ensure you receive maximum compensation for your losses and have the greatest chance of success with your personal injury claim. They can handle your legal matters while you focus on your recovery.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries while walking as a pedestrian in Rocklin, CA, it is vital to speak with an experienced Rocklin pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible about your options for legal recourse. The sooner you begin working on your claim, the greater your chances of success will be. The Kreeger Law Firm can provide the objective and detail-oriented legal counsel you need to navigate a difficult pedestrian accident claim and help you maximize your recovery. Contact us today for more information about how we can help after a pedestrian accident in Rocklin, CA.