How Long Do Pedestrian Accident Claims Take to Settle?
You are likely a pedestrian at some point every day. Whether you are walking across a parking lot or crossing the street at a crosswalk, you trust drivers to safely navigate around you. Unfortunately, some drivers can be negligent and cause serious accidents.
Your life can change instantly if a vehicle hits you. Because cars, buses, and trucks are significantly larger than people, these accidents can lead to severe injuries and costly losses. After an injury, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver to seek compensation for your losses, though this process can take time.
If you are a pedestrian accident victim, you need a lawyer who understands the intricacies of the claim settlement process. Speak to a pedestrian accident lawyer immediately to discuss your case.
Pedestrian accident liability
The term pedestrian encompasses many people engaging in various activities, such as walking, roller skating, skateboarding, or bicycling. It can also include a person using a wheelchair or electric scooter for transportation as an assistive device for their disability.
Pedestrians often have the right of way, which motorists must respect. If a driver fails to adhere to right-of-way laws, you can hold them liable for your damages.
Liability forms the basis of your compensation claim.
The legal system requires victims to prove liability, and you will have to show that the following apply to your situation:
- The driver owed you a duty of care
- They breached this duty
- The breach caused pedestrian injuries
Some common examples of breaches include failure to yield in a crosswalk, distracted driving, or driving under the influence. Your attorney can examine what caused your pedestrian crash and who you can hold liable.
Timeline of events
Victims of pedestrian accidents often wonder how long it will take to resolve their case and receive their settlement. Remember that while we provide a general timeline, each case is unique and follows its own path. Several factors can speed up or slow down the settlement process, so never wait to get started. Consult a local pedestrian accident lawyer regarding your case and possible timeline.
The first phase of a pedestrian accident case is the investigation, which involves gathering evidence, reviewing the police report, and speaking to witnesses. Additionally, your lawyer will assess your injuries and property damage.
The process will vary depending on the complexity of your case. Multiple parties or an uncooperative insurance company can prolong this phase. You should never rush an investigation, as this is how your attorney gathers evidence to support your claim.
Completing your medical treatment
Get medical attention to treat your injuries. Before getting compensation, you should wait for maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning you cannot improve anymore from your injuries or your recovery has reached a plateau. When you reach MMI, you have a good idea of your long-term prognosis and how much additional treatment you will need. This allows your lawyer to estimate your future medical expenses.
If you settle before reaching MMI, you might not realize all the long-term effects or treatments you may need for your condition and might seek less compensation than you need. Serious injuries typically lead to longer recovery times, and you may have a prolonged recovery, affecting your MMI and settlement timeline.
Another essential aspect of your pedestrian claim is calculating your losses, and this requires an evaluation by an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer. This process will involve reviewing your medical documents for past and future losses and is also where waiting to reach MMI comes in.
You might garner compensation for:
- Property damage: If the accident ruined personal effects, the negligent parties are responsible for reimbursing the costs of replacing or repairing these items.
- Lost income: Taking time off to recover or for doctor’s appointments leads to lost income, which is an accident-related expense. Your claim should include the earnings you lost from missing work.
- Lost earning potential: Sometimes, pedestrians will suffer a job loss or career change because of their injuries. If you had to switch jobs, work less, or leave work, you can receive compensation for lost future earnings.
- Future damages: With permanent injuries, you may also have long-term medical needs or other financial losses. Your lawyer can work with experts to calculate these losses.
- Pain and suffering: You may recover compensation if you experienced physical pain from your injuries. These payments can cover physical pain and mental anguish.
- Home or vehicle modifications: If you suffer a permanent disability that requires changes to your home or vehicle, you should seek payment for it. These modifications would not be necessary if you did not have your lasting injury.
Calculating these losses can take some time because it involves reviewing your medical documents, repair estimates, and more. You must also consider long-term costs for a permanent injury. Your lawyer might need to take time with this process so they do not miss any compensable losses.
Insurance company negotiations
The next phase can be the end of the process for many claimants. It involves negotiation with the insurance company to get compensation for your losses. Even though your lawyer calculated what your case is worth, insurers can offer much less than you deserve. Your lawyer can negotiate for the higher amount you need.
These negotiations can take a few weeks or months. The period will depend on the insurance company’s willingness to negotiate and the case’s complexity.
Filing a lawsuit
Sometimes, the insurance company refuses to settle or negotiate, extending your claim and forcing it into litigation. Filing a lawsuit will substantially increase the settlement timeline and involve court procedures, discovery actions, and legal filings. Your lawyer needs to prepare for trial, though often, insurance companies and lawyers settle the claim before going to trial.
Trial and resolution
A trial is necessary if the insurance company refuses to settle with your pedestrian accident lawyer. Depending on the judge and court schedule, the trial duration can vary, and case complexity and other factors can also extend the trial period. Once the trial ends, a judge or jury reaches a decision.
Whether your case goes to trial can significantly affect how long the process takes. Factors that can increase the timeline include injury severity, medical treatment, responsible parties, etc. Lawyers and insurance companies can resolve some cases within a few months, but the more complex ones might take a year or longer. You must work with a local pedestrian accident attorney for the best outcome and remain patient while you wait for a settlement.
What can affect your settlement process?
Some factors can prolong the settlement process and increase your settlement timeline.
Some problems that can arise include:
- Liability issues: A major factor is whether the defendant accepts responsibility for their actions, and if they do, that can help the claims process. However, if they do not, that can lengthen the claim process. If anyone disputes liability, it can take your case longer to settle.
- Insurance coverage: Sometimes, the defendant acknowledges their wrongdoing and accepts liability, but you can still not get full compensation. This situation happens when they do not have sufficient liability insurance coverage, the insurance policy lapses, or the motorist has a license suspension. It can also be due to a lack of adequate coverage. Your damages might exceed the insurance policy, and all of these factors can lead to delays.
- The extent of damages: You can resolve your case easier if you have minor injuries and few medical bills. High medical bills surpassing insurance limits can lead to delays, and the higher your expenses, the harder it may be to get a settlement. The insurance company wants to settle for as little as possible to maintain its bottom line, and it can fight hard against a substantial claim. The higher your damages, the longer your case might take.
- The likelihood that the case will settle: While most cases reach a settlement, some do not. Sometimes, the insurance company pushes back so much that nothing you say will convince them to offer you a fair settlement. Other times, this happens because the driver refuses to accept responsibility or lacks adequate insurance.
While these are some common factors that might extend your case, other circumstances can complicate matters. The more complex your case, the longer the process can be because of lengthy investigations or negotiations. The best way to determine the possible length of your claim is to speak to a local pedestrian accident lawyer. They can let you know what to expect from the process, including how long everything might take.
Average settlement amounts
You might be wondering how much to expect for your pedestrian accident claim or what the average claim is worth. Every case is different. The value of your settlement depends on your specific injuries, and payouts for these claims can range from a few thousand to millions. The more severe your injuries, the more compensation you might deserve, and the longer your case might take.
Instead of focusing on an average amount or an average timeline for a settlement, allow your attorney to provide representation tailored to your claim. No one-size-fits-all approach will work for all injured pedestrians.
You must get an individual assessment of your losses. A pedestrian accident attorney can assess your circumstance and provide an accurate estimate of your potential settlement amount and how long it might take to receive it.
Steps to speed up your settlement
The following are some tips that might reduce your settlement timeline, though there is no guarantee that you will settle faster. Some factors can speed up or prolong your settlement process.
Here are some steps that can help you get a favorable outcome quicker:
- Hire a pedestrian accident lawyer: The best way to shorten your pedestrian accident timeline is to work with an experienced lawyer. Many victims make the mistake of trying to handle these cases independently, which can lead to unnecessary obstacles and delays. A pedestrian accident attorney can keep your case on the right track and fight for fair compensation.
- Avoid delays: Waiting too long to hire a lawyer and file can hinder your claim. The longer you wait to begin a claim, the more evidence will disappear. You may lose your ability to file if the statute of limitations expires. Many statutes of limitations are two years from the accident date, though some states might have shorter or longer deadlines for filing a lawsuit.
- Don’t discuss your case: A critical way to protect your claim and speed up your settlement is to refrain from discussing your case with insurers or on social media. Avoid discussing your claim with friends, coworkers, strangers, or online. The more you talk about it, the more likely you will jeopardize your case. The insurance company will use anything you say against you, even if you think it is harmless.
You can speed up your claim. When you hire a local pedestrian accident attorney, they will guide you through those measures.
Consult a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are all too common. If a vehicle strikes you, you may suffer serious injuries and pursue compensation for these damages and losses. Time is of the essence after a pedestrian accident, so gather your documents and speak to a local pedestrian accident attorney.
Let a top-rated personal injury law firm in Orange County review your situation and advise of your best options.