Average Settlement: Pedestrian Hit By Car
Were You Hit By A Car As A Pedestrian?
If you’re involved in a “car vs. pedestrian” accident, the “average settlement” question has probably crossed your mind.
Searching for “average settlement for pedestrian hit by car” on Google isn’t going to tell you how much your specific case will settle for. But understanding a few key factors will get you pretty close.
Is There An Average Settlement For Pedestrians Who Get Hit By Cars?
Like other personal injury accidents, no one wakes up in the morning expecting to get hit by a car as a pedestrian.
Nevertheless, more than 137,000 pedestrians are treated in emergency rooms each year for non-fatal crash-related injuries. That’s about 375 ER-worthy injuries each day.
In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians were hit and killed in traffic accidents. That’s about one death every 85 minutes. California had the dubious honor of leading the pack with 972 pedestrian fatalities that year.
Average Settlement For Pedestrians Hit By Cars
A question that we are frequently asked by car vs. pedestrian accident victims is “what is the average settlement for a pedestrian hit by a car?”
It’s a simple enough question. The answer, however, can get a little tricky, especially when it comes to proving who was at fault.
“The most common settlement range that we see for accidents where a pedestrian is hit by a car and received relatively minor to moderate injuries is between $15,000 and $90,000.”
There are a number of factors that go into determining the final settlement value of car accidents where pedestrians were hit by cars.
Chief among them are:
✅ Whose negligence caused the injury?
✅ Does the injured plaintiff share any degree of fault?
✅ What interpretation of negligence law will be used?
✅ What is the extent and severity of the injuries and recovery?
✅ How much are the total medical expenses?
✅ How much total insurance coverage does the driver have?
Regarding The “Average” Settlement
First things first. There isn’t really an “average” settlement for a pedestrian hit by a car because there are so many variables and circumstances are always different.
Who was at fault, the extent and severity of the injury, and the type of negligence law used are all major factors when it comes to determining how much a case will settle for.
Here are some “ballpark” descriptions to give you an idea of the settlement ranges for different levels of injury. These examples assume the pedestrian hit by the car was 0% negligent:
❇️ Minor Injury
Back and shoulder pain, neck pain, knee and elbow pain, headaches, “road rash”, abrasions, and nerve pain are typical of minor injuries. These represent the low end of the settlement spectrum and typically settle for less than $7,500.
❇️ Relatively Minor To Moderate Injury
Relatively minor to moderate injuries such as lacerations and broken bones are common. Depending on their extent and severity and the expertise of the attorneys, settlements can range from $10,000 to $100,000 or more.
❇️ Serious Injury
Serious injuries that require one or more surgeries, involve extended hospitalization or include incapacitation, moderate brain injuries, loss of limb or loss of function types of injury, etc., settlements can range from $100,000 up to available policy limits.
❇️ Catastrophic Injury
Catastrophic, life-altering injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, major traumatic amputations, severe crush injuries, paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and death can settle for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The largest pedestrian vs car settlement we’re currently aware of was a case that settled for $13,500,000.
The most common settlement range that we see for accidents where a pedestrian is hit by a car and received relatively minor to moderate injuries is between $15,000 and $90,000.
Duty of Care And Right of Way Rules
An enduring myth we hear frequently is that “pedestrians always have the right of way”. Another is that any time a pedestrian is hit by a car, the driver is automatically at fault.
Neither is true.
Pedestrian Duty of Care
Pedestrians have a duty of care they must adhere to. They have a duty to abide by all traffic laws, signs, and signals, for example. They also have a duty to be careful where they are walking and, in most circumstances, to yield the right of way to vehicles in the roadway.
Unless a pedestrian is granted a specific right of way under the law over a vehicle in the roadway (in a crosswalk or when traffic is stopped at a red light, for example) a pedestrian must always yield the right of way to vehicles in the roadway.
Additionally, pedestrians must:
- Respond appropriately to traffic control devices (Walk, Wait, or Don’t Walk);
- Do not walk on or near roadways while intoxicated;
- Pay attention and exercise reasonable caution at all times;
- Cross roadways only at designated crosswalks;
- Use sidewalks whenever possible;
- Obey railroad or bridge signage and signals;
- Yield the right of way to approaching vehicles on a roadway;
- Yield the right of way to emergency vehicles;
- Use pedestrian tunnels or overhead crossings to cross roadways (if present);
- Maintain situational awareness at all times
- Take all reasonable precautions to remain visible to drivers
The “Smoking Gun” of Liability For Pedestrians Hit By A Car
In civil litigation, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the evidence.
That means the plaintiff has to prove the defendant was negligent. The defendant does not have to prove that he wasn’t.
Photos, video, traffic and ATM cams, eyewitness statements, vehicle damage, skid marks, police reports, blood toxicity reports, and statements from the driver and/or pedestrian can be invaluable forms of evidence.
Because defendants don’t always tell the truth, it can be especially challenging to prove negligence if there are no eyewitnesses and no photographic or video evidence of the moment the pedestrian got hit.
Generally speaking, investigators look at 2 main areas when determining causation and liability after a pedestrian has been hit or killed by a vehicle:
- Motorist negligence
- Pedestrian negligence
The most common cause of fatalities when a pedestrian gets hit by a car is alcohol.
Drunk or impaired driving or walking with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08% takes a serious annual toll on pedestrians:
- 47% (1/2) of crashes that result in a pedestrian death involve alcohol use by the driver and/or the pedestrian
- 33% (1/3) of fatal pedestrian crashes involve a pedestrian with a BAC of 0.08%+
- 17% (1/6) of crashes with a pedestrian fatality involved a driver with a BAC of 0.08%+
Behind alcohol, the next most common causes of pedestrians getting hit by cars are distracted driving and lack of situational awareness.
Texting, video-chatting, using a smartphone, interacting with passengers, and not paying attention to what’s happening on the road ahead frequently result in pedestrian casualties.
Other common types of motorist negligence that cause pedestrians to get hit include:
- Failure to obey traffic signals (running red lights)
- Reduced visibility caused by inclement weather
- Failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Pedestrians aged 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths and an estimated 10% of all pedestrian injuries in 2017
Most plaintiff negligence occurs when a pedestrian breaches their duty of care.
Common breaches of a pedestrian’s duty of care include:
- Jaywalking (crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk)
- Disobeying traffic signals (ignoring a red “do not walk” signal)
- Stepping into the street in front of an approaching bus or taxi
- Texting, video-chatting, reading, and other smartphone activities while walking
- Not paying attention or not maintaining adequate “situational awareness”
- “Distracted walking”
- “Drinking and walking”
- Entering the roadway from behind parked vehicles or curbside obstructions
- Entering early or remaining in crosswalk areas after signals change to “Wait” or “Do Not Walk”
- Walking on railroad tracks
- Failure to walk on sidewalks
- Wearing dark clothing while walking along a roadway at night
- Crossing barricades, traffic cones, or construction zones
- Entering roadways while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
When negotiating a settlement for a pedestrian hit by a car, attorneys for the defendant will work hard to implicate the pedestrian with some degree of negligence.
They do this primarily by suggesting the pedestrian breached their duty of care.
If they can show any degree of pedestrian negligence, depending on the state and jurisdiction, they will reduce, and may even eliminate, their obligation to pay damages.
While pedestrian accidents do occur on rural roads, the vast majority of them happen in urban areas.
Busy, crowded city streets bustling with activity are where most of the injuries and fatalities occur. And the majority of pedestrian fatalities occur at night in areas where there are no lights, signage, or traffic controls.
“A study by the NHTSA revealed that cars making left turns hit three times as many pedestrians as cars making right turns.”~ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Common Injuries To Pedestrians Hit By a Vehicle
Typical injuries suffered by pedestrians after they get hit by a vehicle include trauma to their head, neck, legs, pelvis, chest, abdomen, and arms.
The type of vehicle and the vehicle’s speed at the time of impact both play major roles in the magnitude of injuries.
Smaller cars tend to hit low and flip the pedestrian up and over the vehicle. In truck accidents, larger trucks and SUV’s tend to strike higher up on the body and, in glancing blows, push the pedestrian spinning to the side while straight-on hits transmit blunt-force trauma and send the pedestrian forward and down, where they are sometimes run over before the vehicle can stop.
In addition to the initial impact, many pedestrians can suffer secondary injuries from being propelled through the air or thrown across the road. These types of injuries include concussions, whiplash, road rash, facial trauma, degloving injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, brain injuries, shoulder injuries, and dislocated or amputated extremities.
❇️ Pelvic and Abdominal Injury
When a pedestrian is hit by a car or truck, the lower body usually contacts the vehicle first, bends at the hip, and then the upper body contacts the hood and windshield. The force of impact can cause crushing or shattering injuries, blunt force trauma injuries, and lacerations, fractures, damage to tendons, ligaments, and muscles, and serious pelvic fractures, which can be life-threatening.
❇️ Internal Injury
The torso and abdomen hold all of your most important organs, excluding the brain. The force of impact can damage or destroy any or all of them. It can also break ribs, which can then puncture organs like the lungs, heart, liver, kidney, bladder, stomach, and intestines.
❇️ Head Injury
Anytime a collision involves head trauma, the stakes are extremely high. Injuries range from minor concussions and whiplash to a traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain swelling, or open-skull fracture.
❇️ Neck Injury
The upper part of the body usually contacts the vehicle second. The face, head, and neck can strike the hood or windshield and cause serious neck injury. If the body is propelled up and over the vehicle, additional injuries include neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, and facial and jaw fractures.
❇️ Shoulder Injury
Common shoulder injuries include dislocations, vertebrae trauma, and torn rotator cuffs.
❇️ Spinal Cord Injury
Like serious brain injuries, spinal cord injuries can have life-altering consequences. The spinal cord transmits signals between the brain and the rest of the body, so even minor damage can be devastating. Injuries to the spine include bulging or herniated discs, nerve impingement, and severe injuries like a partially or fully severed spinal cord, paralysis, paraplegia, and quadriplegia.
❇️ Traumatic Amputation
Any extremity, if hit with enough velocity and mass, is subject to traumatic amputation.
❇️ Wrongful Death
Over 6,000 pedestrians are hit and killed each year. They are most often the victims of speeding and driving while intoxicated.
What Types of Damages Apply To Pedestrian Accidents?
Before estimating any pedestrian hit by car settlement amounts, you need to understand what types of damages can be included in your injury claim. Most personal injury cases have two types of damages: special and general.
In personal injury law, special damages are often referred to as “economic damages”.
This category of damages represents losses that can be calculated to the exact dollar. Your attorney will itemize your specials into a list using billing statements, invoices, hospital and ER bills, pharmacy receipts, etc. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatments including surgical, rehabilitative, and in-home care
- Direct financial losses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Occupational re-training
- Durable medical equipment
- Physical, psychological, and occupational therapy
- Home modifications (if applicable)
General damages are referred to as “non-economic damages”. Unlike special damages, general damages do not have an exact price assigned to them. Instead, they are calculated on a sliding scale used by insurance companies and augmented by your attorney’s negotiating expertise. Examples of general damages include:
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Long-term disability
- Long-term nursing care
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss or impairment of mental or physical capacity
- Loss of consortium
Factors That Will Affect The Value of a Settlement For Pedestrians Hit By a Car
Because every case is unique, it is virtually impossible to accurately predict the settlement value of a given case without knowing the specifics.
But here are a few of the key factors that are going to have an impact on the amount you can expect to receive in settlement of your claim if you were a pedestrian hit by a car:
- What is the extent and severity of your injuries?
“Hard” injuries and those requiring surgery or prolonged hospitalization tend to garner larger settlements.
- How much time have you missed at work?
Lost income is reimbursable and will be part of the total damages figure.
- How many and what kinds of medical treatments did you receive?
Treatment by non-physicians such as chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists, etc., tend to carry less weight.
- How much are your total medical expenses?
- What impact has your injuries had on your daily life and routine?
While pain and suffering can be difficult things to quantify, but with the right attorney, it can often account for a large part of a plaintiff’s damages.
- Can you still perform your work duties or do you need to be retrained for another occupation?
Any impact your injuries will have on your ability to earn a living in the future; when an injury prevents you from working at the same level, profession, or at all, the law requires that you be compensated for that lost future income.
- What are your prospects for a full recovery?
If you have long-term or permanent serious injuries, or injuries that will require in-home nursing care, settlement values can increase very rapidly.
- Who was at fault, and can you prove it?
More often than not, the driver is clearly the negligent party, but the defendant’s attorney will still try to assign as much fault on the plaintiff as possible.
- How much insurance coverage did the defendant have at the time of the injury?
This is often the overriding concern in most serious injury settlement negotiations. In the next section, we’ll explain why.
How Much Insurance Coverage Is Available?
The maximum liability coverage, called a policy limit, is the maximum financial exposure the defendant’s insurance company has on the claim.
In other words, if the policy limit is $100,000, the maximum possible settlement offer would be $100,000. If a policy limit is $5,000,000, the maximum the insurance company could be liable for paying is $5,000,000.
But just because a policy limit is high, that doesn’t mean the insurance company is going to offer it up without a fight.
And that’s why they call it a settlement negotiation.
The problem is that many motorists only carry state minimum liability coverage on their vehicles. This creates a problem if the damage they caused exceeds the policy limits of their coverage.
For example, if a drunk driver has a policy limit of $50,000 and he hit a pedestrian and it required $1,000,000 in medical care, the defendant’s insurance company would only pay the policy limit of $50,000.
Who Is Liable When a Pedestrian Is Hit By a Car?
Every person operating a motor vehicle has a duty of care to obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals, and to pay close attention to their surroundings. This duty of care requires all drivers to act reasonably and carefully under all circumstances.
Any driver who breaches their duty of care by ignoring traffic laws or failing to use sound judgment is negligent in the eyes of the law and liable for any damage they cause.
To prove that a motorist is liable for your injuries and damages, your attorney must prove to the insurance company that their insured was negligent. She must also prove that this negligence was the direct or proximate cause of your injuries.
But insurance companies aren’t in the habit of paying without a fight. You can count on them to use the jurisdiction’s comparative negligence laws to full advantage.
Comparative Negligence In Pedestrian Accidents
There are 3 basic interpretations of negligence law in use in the United States. The state and jurisdiction your injury occurred are what will determine which interpretation will be used in your case.
Here is a breakdown:
Comparative Fault Laws
Comparative fault systems fall into one of three basic types: pure contributory negligence, pure comparative fault, and modified comparative fault (sometimes referred to as “proportionate responsibility”). The comparative fault standards for the 51 jurisdictions break down as follows:
Pure Contributory Negligence
Only four states and the District of Columbia recognize the Pure Contributory Negligence Rule, which says that a damaged party cannot recover any damages if it is even 1 percent at fault. The jurisdictions which employ the Pure Contributory Negligence Rule include Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. Under this rule, a plaintiff found 10 percent at fault for causing an accident will recover nothing, even though the defendant is 90 percent at fault. In certain cases, the contributory negligence defense can be overcome. If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant’s willful and wanton acts caused the injury, then the defendant cannot claim contributory negligence bars the plaintiff from recovery. Likewise, if the plaintiff can show that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid an accident and did not do so, then the defendant can still be held accountable even if a plaintiff is found contributorily negligent.
Pure Comparative Fault
Thirteen states recognize the Pure Comparative Fault Rule, which allows a damaged party to recover even if it is 99 percent at fault, although the recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault. These states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington.
Modified Comparative Fault
There are competing schools of thought in the 33 states that recognize the Modified Comparative Fault Rule.
Twelve states follow the 50 percent Bar Rule, meaning a damaged party cannot recover if it is 50 percent or more at fault, but if it is 49 percent or less at fault, it can recover, although its recovery is reduced by its degree of fault. States which adhere to the 50 percent Bar Rule within modified comparative fault include Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.
Twenty-one states follow the 51 percent Bar Rule under which a damaged party cannot recover if it is 51 percent or more at fault. However, the damaged party can recover if it is 50 percent or less at fault, but that recovery would be reduced by its degree of fault. The states which follow the 51 percent Bar Rule include Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
This information originally appeared here.
By determining which negligence law applies to your case, evaluating the extent and severity of your injuries, calculating your special and general damages, the degree of fault of each party, and how much total insurance coverage is available, your attorney can help you develop a pretty clear estimate of the approximate settlement for a pedestrian hit by a car.
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