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When Does a Pedestrian Have a Strong Personal Injury Claim After an Accident?

Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you get fair compensation from both the insurance companies and those responsible for your injuries.

There has been an evident increase in accidents involving pedestrians in recent years, and these incidents often result in serious injuries. The Governors Highway Safety Association recently found that pedestrian fatalities reached a 41-year high of more than 7,500 in 2023, including 62 people killed in Connecticut. One has to think that the rise in distracted driving has played a major factor in this increase.

Pedestrians can receive compensation through insurance or workers’ compensation claims after an accident, but they are often insufficient to cover the full costs inflicted by an accident. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you get fair compensation from both the insurance companies and those responsible for your injuries.

Causes of accidents involving pedestrians

Pedestrians can be injured in many unexpected ways, including slipping and falling on an unsafe sidewalk, falling materials at a construction site, or a collision with a bicyclist, scooter, or skateboarder. Pedestrians have even filed claims against other pedestrians who ran into them while distracted.

For this article, we’re focusing on motor vehicle accidents, which are the most common type of accident involving pedestrians and the most likely to cause serious injuries. Accidents can occur when:

  • A vehicle hits a pedestrian crossing the street, either in a marked crosswalk or outside of one
  • A vehicle goes around a turn and strikes a pedestrian
  • One driver stops for a pedestrian, who is then struck by a driver going around them or passing in a separate lane 
  • A pedestrian walks in front of a vehicle as it is backing up
  • A driver’s vision is blocked by hedges, walls, street signs or other obstructions
  • A pedestrian is struck in a parking lot
  • A driver does not see a pedestrian due to low visibility conditions, such as darkness or fog
  • A driver loses control, leaves the roadway, and strikes a pedestrian
  • Distracted driving

In some cases, a third party may share some of the blame or even be primarily responsible for the accident. This can occur when issues like poor road design, inadequate signage, or faulty vehicle parts contribute to an accident.

Finding evidence to support your claim

To prevail in a personal injury claim, a plaintiff has to put together strong evidence to uphold their version of events and show that a defendant’s actions were negligent. There are several pieces of evidence that can be used in a claim, including:

  • A police report: Includes helpful information such as witness statements, measurements, photographs, dashcam video and a preliminary assessment of fault.
  • Witness statements: Help corroborate your version of events. Ideally as close to the accident as possible, when they have a strong recollection of the accident.
  • Medical records: Show the mechanism of injury in pedestrian cases through a diagnosis of your injuries, the treatments necessary for your recovery, and the costs you have paid for medical care.
  • Photographs: Document the accident scene, including pictures of injuries, damage to the vehicle involved, and other relevant features such as road conditions and signs.
  • Video footage: Captures footage of the accident or a driver’s actions before the accident, as well as at the scene after an accident. Video evidence can include surveillance footage from nearby homes and businesses as well as dashcam footage from law enforcement.
  • Experts: Expert witnesses can include accident reconstruction specialists, investigators, civil engineers, code experts, and others. In addition, forensic accountants determine the impact of the accident on a plaintiff’s earning capacity.
  • Driver record: Can strengthen claims of driver negligence by highlighting past traffic violations. 
  • Cell phone records: Can help prove that a driver was distracted at the time of the accident.

Negligence factors

Motorists have a duty of care to drive safely and follow traffic laws for their safety as well as the safety of anyone else using the road. If a driver behaves irresponsibly and this behavior causes them to hit a pedestrian, they can be found negligent and held liable for a pedestrian’s injuries. Examples of driver negligence include:

  • Failing to yield: Drivers in Connecticut must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, and for safety reasons they must also give way to anyone crossing the street — even if not in a crosswalk. A recent Connecticut law also states that drivers must yield to pedestrians who make a visible signal that they are about to cross the street.
  • Speeding: Drivers who are traveling at an unsafe speed are less capable of stopping or avoiding pedestrians properly using the roadway.
  • Distracted driving: Drivers may not see a pedestrian in time if they are texting, talking on a phone, using an in-vehicle entertainment system, or otherwise distracted.
  • Driving under the influence: If a driver is intoxicated, they will be less aware of their surroundings and have a slower reaction time.
  • Disobeying traffic signals: Drivers may collide with a pedestrian if they go through a red light or stop sign
  • Reckless driving: Any driver behavior that is aggressive or unsafe can cause them to collide with a pedestrian

Compensatory and punitive damages

Pedestrians who are injured by a negligent driver can seek compensatory damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, they may also be able to seek punitive damages.

Compensatory damages take into account both economic and non-economic losses resulting from the accident. Economic losses cover things like medical bills, lost wages, and personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident. The court may also determine that the plaintiff is entitled to additional damages for indirect, non-economic losses such as pain and suffering or the loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages may be awarded in claims where the defendant’s behavior is reckless. These damages are meant to punish the defendant for their actions and deter similar behavior in the future.
In motor vehicle accidents where a pedestrian is injured, punitive damages may be awarded for particularly egregious conduct, such as when a driver intentionally hits a pedestrian, flees the scene after the accident, or hits a pedestrian while street racing, or drives distracted.

What if I was partially at fault?

Pedestrians also have a duty of care when using a sidewalk or roadway and are expected to act in a safe, predictable manner. In some circumstances, it may be determined that a pedestrian’s behavior contributed to the accident, including:

  • Jaywalking, walking against a “Don’t Walk” signal, or failing to use a crosswalk 
  • Not following the rules of the road, including expectations that pedestrians will use a sidewalk when available, walk on the left side of the road, and yield to emergency vehicles with flashing lights or sirens. 
  • Acting in a way that a driver cannot anticipate, such as darting in front of a vehicle or entering the street from between two vehicles
  • Walking while distracted, intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs
  • Walking in a prohibited area, such as on the shoulder of a freeway
  • Failing to take proper precautions when walking at night, such as wearing reflective clothing or carrying a flashlight.

Connecticut has a modified comparative negligence statute, which can hold a plaintiff partially responsible in an accident and reduce their compensation accordingly. However, it is still possible to recover damages as long as the court finds that you weren’t more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.

Let’s review your case

If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident, call Anderson Trial Lawyers at 860.886.8845. We’ll set up a free consultation to discuss your case and the intricacies of pursuing a claim when injured as a pedestrian.

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Is a Driver Liable if a Car Crash Occurs on an Icy Road?

If a driver collides with your vehicle on a slick road, they may argue that they are not liable for your injuries because the dangerous road conditions made the crash impossible to avoid.

Winter weather conditions can sometimes make for a scary driving experience. Snow, ice, or slush might create slippery road surfaces, which can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and crash.

Icy roads can also complicate motor vehicle accident claims. If a driver collides with your vehicle on a slick road, they may argue that they are not liable for your injuries because the dangerous road conditions made the crash impossible to avoid. The condition of the road can also be a factor in determining whether a driver was at fault in an accident, and hence, whether insurance will pay for all damages caused in a crash.

The attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers are skilled in handling motor vehicle accident claims of all kinds, including motor vehicle accidents that occur in winter weather. Here are a few factors that commonly come up in these types of claims.

Negligent driver behavior

When you get behind the wheel, you owe a duty of care to drive responsibly — not only for your own safety but for the safety of everyone else on the road. When hazardous conditions are present, this means you must reduce your speed and otherwise use extra caution to reduce the chances of an accident.

For this reason, motor vehicle accident claims primarily focus on the behavior of each driver rather than the road conditions at the time of a crash. Drivers are expected to be aware of any hazards the weather might create — many vehicles even issue a warning that ice might be present when they are started on days with freezing temperatures — and respond accordingly.

If you are involved in an accident with another driver who was not exercising due caution at the time of the crash, they can be held liable for your injuries. Some examples of negligent behavior include:

  • Driving too fast for conditions: During hazardous conditions, drivers are expected to slow down to travel at a safe speed — even if their vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive, snow tires, or other features to help them navigate winter weather. Drivers who travel too fast for conditions may not be able to safely stop on a slippery road.
  • Following too closely: Drivers must always maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them so they can stop, if necessary. During slippery conditions, drivers are expected to increase this following distance to account for reduced traction. 
  • Inadequate maintenance: A driver’s duty of care includes keeping their vehicle in safe working condition. Certain maintenance issues, such as tires and brakes, will make it more difficult for a driver to operate their vehicle and avoid a crash in icy conditions.
  • Failing to take other precautions: A driver might be held liable if they do not take other proper precautions in poor weather conditions, such as using their headlights during low visibility conditions and clearing their windshield of snow and ice.

Factors that limit a driver’s liability

In some cases, a court may decide that a crash resulted from the inherent risks of driving in hazardous weather during the winter, not negligence on a driver’s part. Even if a driver is found to be negligent in a crash, certain factors can limit their liability. These include:

  • Unpredictable hazards: If a driver encounters something unusual on a road with little or no warning, they may be able to argue that they did not have adequate time to respond to the hazard. 
  • Reasonable driving behaviors: A driver may be able to show that the accident occurred even though they were taking the necessary precautions, such as reducing their speed.
  • Uncontrollable sliding: Some circumstances, such as a severe ice buildup and sloped roads, can cause vehicles to slide uncontrollably. This can be considered a mitigating factor that reduces a driver’s liability in a crash.

Third-party liability

On public roadways, it is the duty of the state or municipal government to keep the road reasonably clear of snow and ice in order to permit safe travel. They are also responsible for the upkeep of features that can improve road safety and reduce accident severity, such as streetlights and barriers that separate the road from a steep slope. 

Governments typically have immunity protections against certain lawsuits, on the principle that excessive litigation could impede the government’s ability to provide services. However, municipal or state governments can still be held liable if they fail to properly maintain a road. 

For example, you might show that a town’s public works department failed to sand and salt the road despite adequate warning of potential icing, or that they did not respond to icy conditions in a timely manner. You can also argue that inadequate maintenance of safety features contributed to a more severe accident.

If the crash occurred on a private road, you may be able to file a claim against the entity responsible for maintaining the road. Certain other factors will also affect liability for motor vehicle accidents on private roads, such as contractual agreements between a homeowners association and the party responsible for the upkeep of the road.

Let’s review your case

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can help. We’ll review the circumstances of your accident and help you get the settlement or verdict you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 860.886.8845 to set up a free consultation.

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